REVIEW: Rhythm Tengoku Gold/Rhythm Heaven

I’m a sucker for rhythm games, as always.  I bought this one as soon as it came out, thinking that it wouldn’t be released in English, much like its predecessor for GBA.  Happily, I was wrong, but I lost my job right around the time it came out so I was unable to support it.

I recently got a copy for free, more or less, and I was reminded of why this is my favorite DS game ever.

I was a bit leery of it at first, since I didn’t think it would surpass the simple button presses that made Rhythm Tengoku on GBA fun.  I was right, sort of, and I like it a little less because of the sometimes inaccurate swipes and stabs, but there’s so much more game in this version I can forgive it that.  I beat the Japanese version to the credit roll in two days, and beat all the extra repeats a week later.  I think I beat the entire thing, remixes and all, in one sitting when I got the English version, most with gold frames.

It’s simple, addictive, and fun.  There are about… 30-50 games, if you count the harder repeats, and each one is a different activity with (somewhat) different input.  You fill robots by timing a hold just right.  You do a simon says mimic of a singing moai head that involves flicks and holds.  There’s a percussive simon says involved in shooting down enemy ships.  There’s all sorts of stabs, swipes, holds, flicks, and other touchscreen stuff involved in everything from singing to karate chopping to kicking soccer balls to dancing in a group of identical black and white men.  The gameplay is all rhythm-based, and one song per “line” (the games are divided into groups of four that aren’t necessarily related, with a remix at the end that mixes all four together, usually while another long song is playing).  If there’s no song, a simple, sometimes goofy rhythm/melody plays instead.

As I said, I’ve always been a little disappointed in the imprecise stylus controls, especially when it comes to the perfects.  Sometimes you’ll miss, and you won’t be exactly sure what was different about that particular swipe or bit of timing.  I have trouble getting perfects in the ping-pong games for this reason.  Inevitably one tap will be off, and I’m never sure why.  Same with the Moai stage and “Lizard Loving” (though, mysteriously, that was the first perfect I earned in the English version, it still eludes me on the Japanese cartridge).  It’s not a serious problem, and those that say it makes the game unplayable are babies with no rhythm.  It’s not a problem for clearing any stage, or even getting gold frames on all of them.  It’ll just be hard to get a few perfects.

The game was much funnier in English, though I was better off without knowing the lyrics to the songs.  I have to yell the Japanese audio cues when playing the pop idol game with the monkeys because I can’t get the timing right with the English commands.  I do like the Frog Hop song in both languages, though, it’s my favorite in the game.

I can’t stress what pure, unadulterated fun I get from keeping a beat to goofy animations.  It’s a simple formula, and it works incredibly well.  You don’t ever get bored of anything because you’re moving on to the next game so fast.  I’ve heard that some have more problems keeping up with the rhythms than others, but as I said, if one stage gives you problems, a prompt lets you skip it after a certain number of tries.

A great game.  I don’t know that it was that popular in English though, which is a real shame.

Again, sorry for the lame gamespot images.  We can’t have nice things here.  And I like taiko drums.

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