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DS

North America

Rhythm Heaven

by Nick DiMola - April 8, 2009, 6:58 am PDT
Total comments: 8

8.5

WarioWare-esque mini-games plus crazy beats equals one wacky and addictive rhythm title.

Rhythm Heaven, known as Rhythm Tengoku Gold in Japan, is the latest formerly Japan-only Nintendo title to make its way stateside. Created by the same team responsible for Nintendo's popular WarioWare series, Rhythm Heaven is very much in the same vein, with the exception that all of the actions are now performed in concert with the beats in a song. Minor flaws aside, the game is extremely addictive and challenging.

Rhythm Heaven is comprised of a few different parts. Mini-games make up the bulk of the game, but as players both beat the main rhythm mini-games and earn medals and perfects on them, they will gain access to the café (for listening to music), rhythm toys, and endless rhythm games.

Playing Rhythm Heaven requires players to hold the DS book-style, similar to the Brain Age titles. Upon first booting the game, only a single mini-game is available for play, Built to Scale. In this mini-game, as with any exercise, players are given a short tutorial and practice session in which they can master the basic skills needed. As the music starts, players will see that they must perform a flicking motion on the DS touch screen in order to drive a bolt into two moving squares, each featuring a circular hole. Sounds easy, right? It turns out that it's not quite as easy as it seems. Because we so often play video games relying primarily on sight, when we must play predominantly on sound it makes the game much trickier.

Many of the games in Rhythm Heaven can be performed with your eyes closed (after you know the proper actions from playing the tutorial). In one particular challenge where you must fuel an assembly line of robots, I actually had to close my eyes in order to be successful. Every time I had played it prior, I missed the cue to start gassing up the robot. Perhaps it was just a distracting visual cue; regardless, it was a remarkably odd experience that drove me to play the game more and attempt to sync up my vision and hearing.

However, before I had figured out how to beat this mini-game, I was stuck in a frustrating position. Because games are unlocked one-at-a-time, I had no choice but to push on and figure out how to beat it. Eventually I noticed that the coffee cup in the bottom-right corner of the touch screen will sometimes blink when you get stuck, allowing you to skip the challenge. But what's the fun in that? A much better solution would've been to unlock games in sets: that way, players could have gotten their groove on elsewhere, and maybe after a few other successes, mustered up the ability to beat the problematic mini-game.

As previously suggested, Rhythm Heaven is controlled entirely with the touch screen. Every game involves players either tapping, flicking, or rubbing the touch screen. For those with an original DS model, fair warning that you might experience some flicking issues due to the seemingly less sensitive touch screen. Some of these problems are eliminated with a DS Lite (and I presume the DSi as well), but even still, because the controls are gesture-based, on occasion, your input will not be recognized properly. Such hiccups can cause you to lose a challenge or miss out on that perfect score you were pushing for.

Fortunately, even when the game is being frustratingly hard due to your own poor timing or a mishap with the controls, it's still extremely fun to play. Whether you are pushing to either beat a mini-game you are stuck on, or attempting to get a perfect on one you feel you have mastered, there is certain addictiveness to the gameplay that will keep you coming back. The wacky style, zany humor, and catchy tunes found in WarioWare all are present in Rhythm Heaven. These aspects make the game endearing and fun, and are arguably the best qualities of the title.

Those looking for an unconventional rhythm game or something close to the WarioWare series would do well to pick up Rhythm Heaven. Fair warning: the game is challenging, and at times you will want to throw your DS against the wall. Regardless, you will likely become addicted to the game's unique traits and simple-yet-fun gameplay.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 9.5 8 9 9 8.5
Graphics
7

While the game isn't pushing polygons or rendering any detailed 2D sprites, the hand-drawn simplicity of the graphics is endearing, suiting the style and feel of the title.

Sound
9.5

What would a rhythm game be without excellent sound? Aside from a couple of annoying songs, Rhythm Heaven is an aural feast.

Control
8

Controlled entirely by the touch screen, Rhythm Heaven suffers from a couple of small problems. Gestures are not quite as accurate as button presses; thus, sometimes if you don't execute the gesture perfectly (such as not flicking with enough velocity), you won't perform the desired action. Owners of the original DS might have greater trouble with this due to the seemingly less sensitive touch screen.

Gameplay
9

The gameplay in Rhythm Heaven is quite simple. Whether you are playing the part of a popstar, smacking dumplings into someone's mouth with a karate chop (don't ask), or taking pictures at a race, players will be tapping, flicking, or sliding the stylus on the touch screen to a rhythm. It's definitely not easy, but most players will appreciate the challenge and become addicted to success.

Lastability
9

Given the plethora of mini-games, each of which is a challenge to complete, and the wide variety of toys to play with, players have plenty to enjoy in Rhythm Heaven. Even after completing a mini-game, players can go back and earn a medal by striving for perfection, and then another when they reach it.

Final
8.5

Rhythm Heaven is an overall fun title that only suffers from the sometimes questionable DS input and the pacing in which mini-games are unlocked. Fans of rhythm games and those looking for something in the vein of WarioWare would do well to pick this one up.

Summary

Pros
  • Catchy Music
  • Chock Full of Personality
  • Enjoyable, varied mini-games
Cons
  • Gesture based input causes occasional problems
  • Mini-games unlocked one at a time
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 08, 2009

I fully agree with Nick's review except I don't really mind that the game has a linear unlock method. Even while playing on a DSLite I also occasionally have issues with controls, primarily with flicking. However it is a very unique game and I would highly recommend it as well.

StratosApril 08, 2009

Thanks for the nice review. I'm thoroughly sold on this game now.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 11, 2009

Sad face to the lack of interest in this great game...

or do the lack of comments mean everyone already ran out and grabbed this?

StratosApril 11, 2009

Well I just got my last paycheck from my old job and it was for $30 so I may use it to get this game instead of waiting till I get a new job. I'm not sure why no one is commenting. You just did such an awesome job writing that review that people have to play it before talking.  :)

PeachylalaApril 11, 2009

I don't mind the unlocking method at all. In fact, learning the games before the remix is part of the charm.

My one grip however is the female vocals. Holy shit, she sounds so uninterested in singing the damn song. Japanese vocals = awesome.

D_AverageOctober 16, 2009

Man. What's with the lack of interst with this game?  I just bought it and I can definately say this is a ds killer app. It's just awesome.

KDR_11kOctober 16, 2009

Dunno, I don't like rhythm games.

BeautifulShyOctober 16, 2009

Just bumped the DS topic.

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Rhythm Heaven Box Art

Genre Rhythm
Developer Nintendo
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Rhythm Heaven
Release Apr 05, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Rhythm Tengoku Gold
Release Jul 31, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Rhythm Paradise
Release May 01, 2009
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Rhythm Heaven
Release Jun 04, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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