Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gaming Purgatory - Rhythm Heaven

I loved my DS lite.

I never thought it was anything too special on the surface, but inside it laid some of the best times I've had with gaming in years. Unfortunately, mine was the victim of one too many sessions of the Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan 2 trifecta, having fallen prey to a particularly rousing session of Jumpin Jack Flash on "Sweatin’" difficulty.

(Yeah..That'll do it.)

So after a good year or so without it, withdrawals having finally ended (I was starting to like my PSP, a LOT-- Yeah, I know.) I cracked and found myself a DSi, using my fallen DS as leverage.

Sadly, a certain retail chain thinking they were getting over on me with my trade-in towards it will have a very pleasant surprise when they realize they’ve essentially gotten a GBA.

Moving on...

Of course, the first thing I’d done with my new contraption was take a bunch of gloriously low-res photographs, and indulge in the regular Nintendo gimmickry until the novelty wore off and I had to acknowledge that it actually played GAMES.

So, learning nothing from my previous mishap, I played Ouendan again, but somehow, it almost paled in comparison to another game I picked up on my way out, and that game is Rhythm Heaven.

In playing it, It honestly felt like something I hadn’t felt in a while.


It was almost exhilarating, I wasn’t worried about being swept up in an epic story, I wasn’t concerned about production values or texture quality, I wasn’t hung up on an infinite number of buttons and game mechanics that each require their own individual FAQ, I was simply playing and enjoying myself. It’s cute, it’s quirky and above all, it was SIMPLE to grasp and enjoy, yet a challenge to master were you so inclined. In fact, many games on the DS remind me of this basic component of gaming that we seem to have left behind. It works brilliantly here.

The premise is simple, with the game being comprised of minigames, each with a specific goal. many of the games have a central theme, from putting together small contraptions, to singing in tune with a glee club, to defending a spaceship from attacking aliens. The catch is that they’re all rhythm based, and many of the challenges have to be done in tune with the music. Controls are simple, with every action being controlled either by tapping or “flicking” (think making a check mark) on the touch screen.

The funny thing is, the games are already fun and charming enough on their own, but the catchy music involved adds another layer to the enjoyment. I’ve only gone through about half of the more than 50 games the game promises, and I can see myself returning to this for the next few months, easily.

If you have a DS and haven’t given this a chance yet, I recommend you do so RIGHT AWAY.

You won’t be disappointed.

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