If you like tapping your feet to the beat, this might a game up your alley.
After years of complaining, Nintendo finally did the right thing and will be bringing Rhythm Heaven, lr at least the Japanese sequel for DS, to America. The E3 demo of the game only had three sections, but they give a good idea of what rhythmically inclined gamers can expect from the full game.
For those not familiar with Rhythm Heaven, it can be described as a game constructed in the style of WarioWare, only much more simple and elegant. It uses music and visuals in tandem to prompt you to follow along to the beat to complete certain tasks. The timing in the demo was generally unforgiving, which is great for people who want the challenge of going for the perfect score. However, the game is simple enough for anyone to understand what to do. That simplicity, however, may give the perception of boredom to some people.
The first of the three games on the demo, which was my favorite, was the conveyor belt. In this mode, two square cogs with holes in the middle roll in from either side simultaneously. When they meet in the middle, you need to perform a swift flicking motion on the touch screen with the stylus, which will fling a bolt into the cogs and lock them together. The cogs roll in to the beat of the background music, so it's possible to play the level with your eyes closed. You'll almost need to for the second part, in which most of the screen blacks out, leaving you only with a small window with which to see the cogs intersect. What makes this game interesting is that the tempo at which the cogs roll in changes, which creates a simple, catchy song of incrementally rising piano tones. I played this mode several times to try to get a perfect score, and when I did, I promptly went back and played it again. I was addicted to it.
The second game in the demo was called robot factory. Here, pieces of a robot fall from the sky, all to a simple beat. After the pieces fall down, you need to tap the touch screen and hold the tap to lower a gas nozzle. There are actually two points when you need to be aware of the timing: one when you lower the gas nozzle, and another when you raise it. If you lower it too early or late, you'll miss the fill-up. If you release too early or late, you'll make your robot friend very sad. To hit the fill up at the proper time, you need to keep the beat going in your head, since there's a missing beat where you get no assistance with timing. Sometimes, a larger robot with twice the capacity appears, requiring you to stay on the fill-up for twice as long (eight beats). To further mix it up, sometimes the robots fall into place on the down beat of the rhythm, requiring that you change how you match the pattern with the music. I felt this mode was enjoyable, albeit a little sparse.
The third mode available in the demo, and my least favorite, was the chorus line. In this mode, you control the voice of a member of a chorus trio. He has two vocal ranges: On and off. The directions claim "tap to close your yap," indicating that you must keep hold on the touch screen to keep quiet. The goal of the mode is to follow along and match your vocal rhythm with that of the other two vocalists. If the first two sing for a beat each, then when it's your turn to sing you must match the same cadence. There will be some times where you must all sing in unison, but the cue to do this is very hard to hear and the timing to get it just right is extremely unforgiving. If you mess up, and you will mess up, the other two singers will give you a dirty look. It was charming, but not as fun to play as the other two demo games.
Rhythm Heaven on the DS feels like it will have a similar structure to that of the WarioWare games, although the games in Rhythm Heaven will offer won't be as rapid-fire. That means there could be hits and duds strewn about the different games on offer. The E3 demo made that pretty clear to me. Still, for anyone who likes music games, Rhythm Heaven is the genre stripped down to its basics, and that could make it just the thing for handheld gaming. However, I wonder if the touch screen will be used for more than just tapping, holding, and flicking, or if there will be more variation in player input. If not, then the game might as well have been released on the Game Boy Advance ... or at least, the first game should have been brought to America like we've been asking Nintendo to do.