Dance Dance Revolution for your arms.
While WiiWare has become somewhat of a dumping ground for mediocre titles and even cell phone game ports, occasionally a unique, original title makes its way onto the service. Helix is such a title and can best be described as a rhythm game akin to Dance Dance Revolution where you dance with your arms instead of your feet.
The premise of Helix is quite simple: an on-screen robot performs a motion with one or both of his arms, and the player mimics it to the beat of the music. The motions range from something as simple as a punch to a back-and-forth waterfall gesture. Unlike many Wii games, two-handed control is achieved through use of two Wii Remotes. This is the preferred control scheme, and really the only worthwhile way to play the game. The option to use a single remote is available but really loses the charm found with the 2 Wii Remote control.
Motion recognition in Helix is very well done, and is accurate nearly all of the time. While wild arm-waving works on occasion, it is never reliable and will ultimately lead to failing the song.
Controls aside, the other centerpiece of any rhythm game its soundtrack and associated note tracks. Helix features an impressive twenty-six songs, all of the techno (or trance) variety and from a collection of independent artists. Admittedly I am not a fan of techno, but the featured tracks in Helix had me grooving to the beat and enjoying every minute of it.
Similar to most rhythm games, Helix features a range of difficulty settings along with unlockable songs that grow progressively more challenging. After playing at length, I felt that Medium offered the most even-handed challenge as well as the most rhythmic. Easy mode is a great stepping stone to Medium, and a necessary starting point with the title; Hard mode is mind-blowing and moves at a mile-a-minute. In this regard, the game is very similar to DDR and requires the player to memorize note progression to master each song.
Though the game has undeniable parallels with DDR, one aspect in which it differs is the presentation method of required actions. Because the on-screen robot performs the action first, there is a necessary delay until you are able to mimic the action. This creates a minor disconnect that proves difficult to keep up with at the highest difficulty setting.
Graphically, Helix is pretty sparse. A simple audio visualizer (similar to those found in programs like Windows Media Player) spins behind the robot while the note track timing scrolls across the top of the screen. Though minimal, it works and the visualizer flashes enough bright colors to properly accompany the pumping techno tracks.
Though similar to many other titles in the rhythm genre, Helix is a unique experience and feels more like real dancing than DDR ever has. The soundtrack is enjoyable and fun, and will keep you grooving until the end.