From the people who brought you the cheap-but-charming Kamiko comes another budget eShop title, this time in the form of a rhythm game with one heck of a title.
Based on a mini-game from one of the Dark Witch 3DS eShop series, this rhythm title popped up on the eShop pretty suddenly at the end of last week with minimal fanfare. Brought to you by the same people who recently released the light but fun Kamiko, yet again Flyhigh Works and Circle Entertainment have come to the table with a budget title that is relatively simple but nonetheless delivers some challenging fun.
In the game you’ll choose one of the 3 main characters, though they operate roughly the same way. They have a unique look, different endings to their stories, and their attack visuals vary but they each play pretty well identically. Every stage you choose has an opponent who will attack you with what are called, I kid you not, Boing-Boings that you’ll have to hit in order to keep them from harming you. Each enemy stage has its own style of music that you’ll be battling with and you’ll find yourself sometimes having to connect with the melody, sometimes with the backup accompaniment, and sometimes you’ll have to do a little of switching back and forth.
Early on at Easy difficulty you’ll only have to use your one Attack button that hits the red Boing-Boings, allowing you to primarily focus on your rhythms and getting used to the gameplay. In order to progress you’ll need to score at least a B rating, but if you want to be able to gain access to alternative costumes for each of the characters you’ll need to score at least an A rating to earn a crystal (once you collect enough of these you’ll unlock new costumes in a set order). For completionists there are S ratings and even elusive S+ ratings if you want to challenge yourself, and even at the easier skill levels you’ll need to work pretty hard to get them all quickly. As you progress you’ll begin to unlock additional stages and enemies, eventually unlocking the game’s final boss who you’ll be able to complete the game with even just defeating her on Easy difficulty. The label Easy for the unlocked enemies can be a bit deceiving, though, since even with only one button to press the demanding and up-tempo music they’ll throw at you can get pretty intense.
Once you’re up for a greater challenge you’ll be able to take the stages on in Normal, Hard, and even a Lunatic difficulty level. With each new level comes additional challenges and distractions and the leap in difficulty at each step can be pretty substantial. In Normal mode not only will you need to contend with blue Boing-Boings that require you to press a different button, but you’ll also have to periodically dodge either fireballs or lasers by pressing up. On some stages there will be additional challenges as well, including Boing-Boings that are deceptive and will start out appearing to require you to press a different button or that will move at different rates of speed to arrive for you to hit in a different order than they were fired. This compounds the challenge of being sure to execute the right patterns with visually ensuring that you’re pressing the right button or performing the right action, and it can get pretty crazy at times. Stepping up further to Hard and Lunatic modes the difficulty spikes further by throwing in a third green Boing-Boing type to contend with and switching up the order of attacks even more frequently.
In terms of the music the game sports a pretty wide variety of genres, styles, and tempos from pretty traditional classical arrangements, to more pop-style tunes, to some that are more big band / jazz style. Even while in Easy mode you’ll have to keep pace with the music and will have to switch up from being on the beat to dealing with syncopated rhythms and off-beats to sometimes performing some rapid-fire runs. Especially when you’re trying to mix up which button you’re hitting, having to dodge fireballs and the like will begin to need familiarity with the sequence and even some practice to get it all down. Then the pressure will be on to execute when the time comes.
If you’re not really into rhythm games in general even Easy may come to be a real challenge for you but even people who enjoy them, and who may blow through Easy pretty quickly, will begin to face increasingly steep challenges in Normal and beyond. Your enjoyment of the game, then, will depend greatly on your determination to learn the music and rhythms and get through it all. If your only goal would be to see the three endings offered (one of which is a bit peculiar in an otherwise benign game) you’re not going to get much mileage out of it. If you wanted to get enough crystals to unlock all costumes for the main characters (which only show in the game’s stages and don’t alter anything fundamental about how each one plays) that will be a bit more of a commitment but you’ll likely be doing it more for the challenge, which does extend past the music itself and into a mix of a rhythm and either your reflexes or memory. The game does have its charms, and presents a formidable challenge depending on what you choose to take on. The question will be how many people are seeking out this specific combination of elements, and the game simply isn’t going to be for everyone.