What’s better than listening to music on your MP3 player of choice when on the bus/on the train/at some place that makes you sit still? Playing music on a DS in a way that makes people look at you funny, probably moreso than using two styluses to beat a Japanese Taiko drum. Rhythm Tengoku Gold is the sequel to the 2006 cult hit (aptly named Rhythm Tengoku) for Gameboy Advance. Now that the second incarnation is surfacing in stores, we’re here to tell you whether or not it’s worth the 3990 yen asking price.
For those unfamiliar with the first game, Rhythm Tengoku can best be described as “Wario Ware with Music.” You are given a set of four stages and one final “Remix” stage which incorporates the minigames from the previous four in a brand new, sometimes vocal, song. These mini-games vary from directing a choir of simply-drawn child-looking things to driving rivets into squares to mimicing easter island heads to punching flower pots. It’s all very silly and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but rest-assured you won’t even take that into consideration once you start playing.
Rhythm Tengoku Gold boasts a decently sized musical mini-game collection. I believe to have unlocked them all, with 50 main mini-games, 51 if you count the extra credits stage. They each unlock one at a time as you complete the previous one in a set, and a new set unlocks as soon as you clear the Remix stage at the top of a set. There are also a handful of other mini-games which are separate from the normal stages, some featuring returning characters and stages from the first game.
The controls are exclusive to the touchscreen, and like the GBA predecessor, are extremely simple. You either tap, press and hold, or quickly slide the stylus. Before each song the game gives you an opportunity to practice different segments that are likely to appear, with some on screen instructions in Japanese (although they’re easy enough to figure out given a few tries). Screenshots cannot do the game justice, so I recommend watching the video above to see what the game has in store.
Being a rhythm game, Rhythm Tengoku Gold extremely import-friendly. While the bulk of the game is in Japanese, no knowledge of the language is required to enjoy the game’s quirky musical stages. The menus are easy to navigate, and the game typically highlights something whenever there is an item of interest for you to check out.
Simply put, Rhythm Tengoku is a must-have for any music game fan. Those who can’t wait can order the game and enjoy it thoroughly, but if being unable to read bits of text here and there is something you simply can’t live with you can wait for the stateside release, as the name “Rhythm Heaven” has been trademarked.
And now for the numbers:
Graphics – 8/10 : The user interface for menus is brightly colored with no shortage of animation or activity. The mini-games all feature simple, yet excellent artwork and animation, though the simple and sometimes minimalist style might strike a few as lacking.
Sound – 9/10 : Being a music game, the game would obviously have to bank on producing good music. While I doubt many will be putting this music on their MP3 player or listening to it much when not playing, the tracks are still unique and catchy enough to get them stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Gameplay – 8/10 : With no shortage of strange-but-fun mini-games, Rhythm Tengoku Gold delivers a solid distraction from the norm in terms of music games. The simple control scheme manages to pull off a feeling of uniqueness for each mini-game, despite using the same motions for each. The timing can be rather strict, and there is no progress meter to gauge if you’re passing or failing a song until the very end, but after a few stages you develop a gut feeling for judging how well you did.
Final Score – 8/10 – Rhythm Tengoku Gold delivers a great performance, showing that the DS can have its own brand of unique games without feeling very gimmicky. The rather short length of the game and odd timing may be a put-off to some, but the game can be thoroughly enjoyed by both newcomers and hardcore rhythm game enthusiasts alike.
Images courtesy of DS Fanboy.
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