I would love to know what the hell goes on in the offices of Nintendo Software Planning & Development Group No. 1. These are the guys responsible for some of my absolute favorite recent handheld video games – most of the Wario Ware series of games, and the Metroid handheld titles. Oh shit. Aside.
Where the fuck is a new handheld Metroid game? Castlevania can only go so far, but I need to shoot goddamn space pirates with increasingly powerful beams. On a desolate and abandoned world. With the possibility of seeing a digital space lady in a bathing suit. This is what I want.
Back to the review.
Nintendo SP&D1 (I am making this up, but I think their nickname is “Gen. Wackballz and the Goofpolice”) are also responsible for a Game Boy Advance game that never made it over to America: Rhythm Tengoku, which was a nonsensical rhythm mini-game collection. Taken as a whole, Wario Ware and Rhythm Tengoku have me convinced that the developers are insane geniuses. From the very first moment you start to play until you turn it off, you are assaulted with weird, colorful, clever gameplay. I once showed Wario Ware: Twisted to my father, who gave me a look of ultimate disappointment. Here was his oldest son – playing a video game that you only see in science fiction films from the 90s. You know, the ones with pounding beats, bright flashing lights, and the ability to turn you into a drone for a robot overlord, Gobor. When I bought my Nintendo DSi, I also purchased the sequel to Rhythm Tengoku, but for the DS: Rhythm Heaven.
Rhythm Heaven is Wario Ware, but without Wario, and instead of a tiny time limit, you are limited by your own terrible sense of rhythm. You are presented with a series of little games that require tapping and flicking with the stylus in time with the music based on the rules of the game. The games are (for the most part) straightforward, and you will always be presented with a tutorial before the game.
What types of games? Well, there is a game where you play the third member of a synchronized swimming team. There is a game where you are a singing Easter Island Head. There is a game where you eat a shitload of multi-colored dumplings that are handed to you by an unknown, demanding jerk. Basically, I could explain how the games are played, but you should go try it out yourself. There’s a demo on the Wii DS Download service (part of the Wii’s Nintendo Advertisement Channel that you downloaded, fucked around with, and deleted before they announced the SD card storage solution), and essentially the games all work the same way. You tap, or flick, in time with the music.
So, what’s fun about it? Well, first off, the music is quite catchy. Almost annoyingly so, for people who are not playing, but rather in the room next to you, trying to study FOR THEIR DENTAL EXAMS SHUT UP WHY DON’T YOU COME MAKE ME YOU ARE THE WORST ROOMMATE OH YEAH? YEAH? I POOPED IN THE TOP PART OF YOUR TOILET. I DID. Some of the songs are definitely not winners, especially those with trite lyrics, but in a rhythm game, if your music sucks, there is no reason to play. The music does not suck. If you are like me, you will definitely be saying “Stretch out your neck!” and “peck your beak” in weird, inappropriate situations. Second, the games are varied, and quite clever, especially when you realize that you’re just doing the same thing you did in an earlier game – tapping and flicking. And some times tapping, holding, and then flicking. However, the games are over so quickly, and offer enough charm, that you don’t care, and move right along to the next. After each set of four games, there is a remix level, where all four games are put together with a new song, and it’s here where the game absolutely shines. The remix levels change the tempo and visuals of the games, tying them all together with a wackydoodle theme. Spaghetti Western music while you tenderly rub the back of a horny lizard? This is one of the many gifts that Rhythm Heaven has to offer.
As many have pointed out, the game can be difficult, requiring almost perfect taps and flicks on the beat in order to progress. Also, the game can come off a little strange – there were times when I would complete a level and have praised heaped on me, only to get a final ranking of “Just OK” (complete with annoying downtrodden failure noise). Make up your damn mind, Rhythm Heaven. If I am a failure, don’t be a dick about it. You’re not my dad.
So, here’s Rhythm Heaven. It’s a fun game, and it’s the only reason I’m actually using my DSi (I’m sorry, Nintendo, but I don’t care about Master of Illusion Express: Shuffle Games, and also, what). It can be a little annoying since it doesn’t give much advice as to what you’re doing wrong, and you will do things wrong. But, there is more than enough there to not only justify a purchase, but possibly even an import of the (apparently superior) GBA prequel. Which you won’t be able to play on your DSi. Why did I buy one? Why do I not think before making purchases? What would Gobor do?
[!/mrface5.jpg "Mr. Face say this game AWESOME. Mr. Face never wrong!")