Wii

North America

Rhythm Heaven Fever

by James Jones - February 15, 2012, 6:29 am PST
Total comments: 13

9.5

All I know about music I learned helping a monkey tell time.

Scroll down to the bottom for a video review.

"I'm not looking for perfect, but if that stupid wad of dough would just hit the ball when I tell it to I could move on to more important things, like interviewing a sweaty wrestler."

"Was it one-and-two three or one-and and-three?"

"Was the pattern small ball, small ball, large ball, or the other way around?"

These are the kinds of thoughts Rhythm Heaven Fever will inspire.

This mountain of a man gives fantastic interviews using only his pectorals.

Really though, all that on-screen silliness is just window-dressing; Rhythm Heaven bores into your soul by having some of the absolute best executions of Nintendo's "gameplay first" philosophy ever constructed. There is nothing particularly complicated about the concept: press the Wii Remote's buttons to match the beat pattern of some catchy music. At the end of each song/game your performance is evaluated and if you pass the next game/song unlocks. Every fifth game is a “remix” that cleverly combines the gameplay of the previous games into one delightful package. It's just hard enough to frustrate but not anger, and just complicated enough to induce struggle but simple enough that any bystander will instantly assert, "Give it to me, I can do this." Too bad for them they probably can't either.

How do monkeys know the concept of time?

Rhythm Heaven’s challenge is addictive. Even clearing a stage with a strong score is just an invitation to replay it in an attempt to get the insidiously stressful "perfect" score. From a gameplay standpoint, that really is the entire game, and yet it is so much more. Rhythm Heaven Fever is a fusion of gameplay and presentation that is unrivaled on the Wii.

This man/frog/dustball/thing is keeping your children safe from defective see-saws.

At the risk of being accused of heresy, Rhythm Heaven Fever might be the best top-to-bottom soundtrack ever composed for a Nintendo title. It has to be; the songs are effectively the game's stages. Musically clever and decidedly infectious, they're the pulse of the game. The tight integration of music and gameplay allows for an extreme range of styles; from bossa nova to pop to Japanese folk music to blazing guitar rock, these styles provide more than audio variety. These distinctions influence all other aspects of the game, from the “story” of each stage to its gameplay. In fact, your input completes the songs, making this not only a rhythm game but a proper music title.

Rhythm Heaven is also stunningly beautiful. Music blends with art in some of the most sublime ways, be it in twisting a robot's head onto its body or swatting spiders away from boxes of candy (at the not quite convincing “Spider-Free Candy” company). The absurd action on screen sells the music in ways that give the latter extra resonance, with dozens of distinct art styles populating the 50 mini-games. The bright, colorful, active, creative, and hilarious imagery can be almost a detriment for the player. It's hard not to get distracted from the task at hand by some of the details Rhythm Heaven's artists have packed into the game, with the frenetic remix stages blend styles so fluidly it can be disorienting.

They call this being "a great explorer." I find this a questionable assessment.

Overall, it's hard to imagine a more well-presented title. Everything is polished to a glisten, and the extra work to perfect every aspect of presentation really enhances the simple concept. The precise gameplay is complemented by hilarious scenarios, equally absurd art, and excellent music. Even the writing, which could rightfully be considered insignificant in a game such is this, is legitimately funny.

Dancing prawns set to Japanese music? Sure.

The only issues I have with the game seem incredibly minor. The game never uses the B trigger on its own, rather insisting you use either A or A and B at the same time. It also requires you go "Go for Perfect" only at certain times for certain games, much like the comets in Super Mario Galaxy. This Rhythm Heaven isn't much different than the very first iteration, although it does add an intense two-player mode for some games. Still, I don't care. I love this game.

The two-player mode is only for a few games, but it is delightfully chaotic.

This is the most polished game in the Rhythm Heaven series, a series already so well constructed that it has the ability to consume lives. It's occasionally frustrating, frequently hilarious, decidedly beautiful, and monumentally fun. If you own a Wii you need to own this game. Pull it out next time you have friends over; I guarantee it will be more fun than any "party" game, even for those not playing.

Summary

Pros
  • Amazing music
  • Hilarious writing and scenarios
  • Simple but challenging gameplay
Cons
  • “Chance for Perfect” instead of just letting me get perfect
  • The B trigger should work on its own

Talkback

StogiFebruary 15, 2012

Excellent review. I've never been much of a fan of music based mini-games but I may give this a shot simply because of how much you enjoyed it!

Side-note: You forget the word 'a' in this paragraph.

Quote:

Overall, it's hard to imagine a more well-presented title. Everything is polished to a glisten, and the extra work to perfect every aspect of presentation really enhances the simple concept. The precise gameplay is complemented by hilarious scenarios, equally absurd art, and excellent music. Even the writing, which could rightfully be considered insignificant in a game such is this, is legitimately funny.

ejamerFebruary 15, 2012

I don't know...


Recently picked up Rhythm Heaven (DS) because it was cheap and came highly recommended here at NWR. That ended being arguably the worst, most frustrating gaming experience I've ever had.  Cute visuals and a sense of humor only take you so far when the gameplay is limited and entirely one-dimensional.


Some people will clearly enjoy the game, but my experience with Rhythm Heaven on the DS has taught me that at least some musical ability is required for a game like this.  I'll be avoiding Rhythm Heaven Fever, and suggest that people who know they are rhythmically challenged do the same.

Thanks for the catch on the typo.


ejamer, I can say that my musical experience at least helps me with rhythm, so I can't play the game turning that part of my brain off. I will say that the Iwata Asks for this game is very informative on the subject:

Quote:

Iwata: This series began with your desire to change Japanese people's sense of rhythm, and that energy is alive this time, too.


Tsunku♂: Yes, it really is. I still want Japanese people to work on their rhythm, even today.

For reference, Tsunku is the man from who all of this series sprung.


I do think the game can be a bit instructive with respect to beat-patterns and the like. I also think the DS game was considerably more complex, due to the use of the touchscreen. By using only the buttons the entire thing feels a bit more precise. Also, if you get stuck on a game you can skip them. I think three failures and the game lets you skip ahead, or conversely you can watch the computer play the game to try to get a feel for what they're doing.


I will say that Nintendo did release the game for $29, so it is pretty affordable.

ejamerFebruary 15, 2012


Worth noting that I am severely challenged when it comes to rhythm.  Most people will probably have a better experience with the series, especially the Wii game, than what I did with Rhythm Heaven on DS. But it still reminded me of playing a trivia game: either you are good enough to be successful at that type of game or not. Practice helps to some degree but can be painful since it means losing badly and repeatedly.


This game looks great and definitely has an audience. I'm not criticising the quality in any way. I just think that gamers who know they have no rhythm going in should approach with caution.  (Should be obvious due to the game name, right? But this game isn't like Rock Band or the Hero series where you can fake it.)

Mop it upFebruary 16, 2012

Quote from: ejamer

Worth noting that I am severely challenged when it comes to rhythm.

How well do you do at games in general? I ask because I actually find that playing many games requires good rhythm, at least to play them well. Oftentimes actions require good timing and sequencing, and so having a sense of rhythm definitely helps. One example is Zelda Skyward Sword's shield bash technique, though the window is larger there than in games like this one. Smash Brothers is also all about timing and rhythm.

ejamerFebruary 16, 2012

Quote from: Mop

Quote from: ejamer

Worth noting that I am severely challenged when it comes to rhythm.

How well do you do at games in general? I ask because I actually find that playing many games requires good rhythm, at least to play them well. Oftentimes actions require good timing and sequencing, and so having a sense of rhythm definitely helps. One example is Zelda Skyward Sword's shield bash technique, though the window is larger there than in games like this one. Smash Brothers is also all about timing and rhythm.

It's a fair question.


Typically, I consider myself good at platformers (especially the 2D variety), puzzle games, and RPGs. Those genres also tend to take up the majority of my gaming time.  While RPGs don't require any sense of rhythm (Mother 3 excluded), timing and sequencing are often important for puzzle games and platformers.  I'm also decent at FPS titles, but haven't played enough recently to have sharp reflexes or to feel really comfortable with dual analog controls.  I'm pants at fighting and racing games, and you've seen my mediocre third-person "skills" first-hand when playing Monster Hunter Tri - a game I love but honestly kind of suck at.

I don't have problems with games in general, but once music gets involved I end up completely and hopelessly lost.  I love DJ Hero, but can barely scrape through on the easiest difficulty setting.  Playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero is also a real challenge for me. Maybe the difference comes in the fact that with other games - even with the Hero/Band series - visual clues are stronger than what you get with Rhythm Heaven, and timing is only part of the equation instead of the entire challenge.

EyothrieFebruary 16, 2012

I actually went out and picked this up today because of your review.  Looking forward to checking it out later today!

Glad to hear it!

Say goodbye to the next few days!

KDR_11kFebruary 17, 2012

Rhythm games aren't my thing, I couldn't keep a rhythm in the school music lessons either. Also I prefer games that give me ways to think ahead and make strategies (but I don't like TBS either, weird, huh?).

There are some pretty terrible reviews for this game out there, which indicates that the reviewers must suck horribly at rhythm, which then begs the question, why are they reviewing it to begin with?

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterFebruary 19, 2012

This THE game right now! My wife and I are having a blast. During my first play through something was unlocked in my subconscious and I was reminded of a moment in my child hood that nearly had me cry tears of joy. Yes I'm an emotional mess at times, but I havn't had an emotional response from a game like that ever. 

This game is a 10 for me.

broodwarsFebruary 19, 2012

I tried the demo for this game a few days ago at my local GS, and I just had a really bad experience with it.  It was left on the "timing test" section, with the only unlocked mini-game being the Golfing one.  I'm generally pretty decent at games with rhythm components (7 years of music training during Middle & High School will do that), but I just couldn't for the life of me hit a single frickin' golf ball in the training mode of that golfing mini-game (and the game wouldn't tell me what I was doing wrong).  The review sounds great, and the Giant Bomb Quick Look makes the game seem pretty awesome, but if my time with the demo is any indication I think it would just frustrate me.  And if I can't do well at one of the rhythm mini-game with my musical experience, I think I can see how it would really hurt the game in reviews.

Plus, the IGN review put up a video showing just how wonky the scoring system for this game apparently can be.  The guy only missed one object in the mini-game, and he only got an "OK" rating.  But in other sessions he did far worse and got a "Superb".

Mop it upFebruary 20, 2012

Quote from: MegaByte

There are some pretty terrible reviews for this game out there, which indicates that the reviewers must suck horribly at rhythm, which then begs the question, why are they reviewing it to begin with?

To judge the game's worth for a general audience.

Who, specifically, gave the game a terrible review? Metacritic shows that only one review is less than an 8/10, and that one review is a 7/10 from IGN, which isn't a bad score.

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Minna no Rhythm Tengoku Box Art

Genre Rhythm
Developer Nintendo,
TNX

Worldwide Releases

na: Rhythm Heaven Fever
Release Feb 13, 2012
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Minna no Rhythm Tengoku
Release Jul 21, 2011
PublisherNintendo
eu: Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise
Release Jul 06, 2012
PublisherNintendo
Rating7+

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