Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: "Rhythm Heaven"

Have you ever played a rhythm game without so much of a visual indication? Enter Rhythm Heaven for the DS! Rhythm Heaven is a special rhythm game that does not focus entirely on visual aid. It's predecessor was on the GBA.

Rhythm Heaven is actually a compilation of rhythm minigames. All the minigames are quite different from each other; from songs, to sound to even graphics, but they all have one thing in common and that is they do not depend so much on visual aids. In fact, you can even play the minigames without even looking at your DS.

Rhythm Heaven uses 5 techniques of the stylus and touch screen to create sound:

1) Tap (tap on the touch screen, ie quick hold and release)

2) Hold (touch the touch screen and hold it there)

3) Lift (release the hold of the touch screen)

4) Slide (a shaking motion, sliding your stylus up and down)

5) Flick (as if drawing a 'tick')

Every minigame uses up to 3 techniques to play. As long as you have a good sense of rhythm, the game should be fine, although there are really difficult parts later in the game.

One fun part about the game is that there can be unexpected occurances in the middle of the minigame, like sudden change of rhythm (eg suddenly going to a irregular beat timing), blackouts and camera pans. Focusing too much on visuals may cause alot of misses (espacially the ping pong minigame). It is best to focus on the music, with the visuals acting just as in assistant.

There are 3 outcomes you can expect while playing a minigame. There's "Try Again", "Just OK" and "Superb". "Try again" simply means you screwed up too many times and there's way too many mistakes for you to advance to the next stage. "Just OK" simply lets you advance as you have probably hit most of the beats. "Superb" will be obtain when you hit most of your beats in the correct timing (elaborated next paragraph), and thus reward you with a 'Gold' medal. 'Gold' medal are like points used to unlock many different random and fun stuff.

About timing, although most minigames focus on only 'Hit' or 'Miss' for each beat the player must hit, some have another condition that works like a 'half-miss', or rather, an imperfect hit. Excessive 'half-misses' may cost you your 'Gold' medal, so be careful.

Finally, one cool thing I find about Rhythm Heaven are the Remix Stages. After every 4 mini-games, you will have to go through a Remix Stage, where they combine minigames together to play a single music. Speaking of music, worry not. Rhythm Heaven have a great collection of music, in which all of them correspond very well to the minigames.

In my opinion, it is really hard to describe how good this game really is, considering it's wide variety of minigames. I can't possibly review each and every one of the minigames, so my recommendation is to really get this game and try it out. It is one of the better games DS have to offer. If you are still unsure, the best way is to search for videos from YouTube. Trailers and video captured videos about Rhythm Heaven won't show you anything since, like I mentioned, visuals are only secondary and the interesting part about the game is the creative usage of the stylus + touchscreen, so just look for gameplay videos.

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