Heart of Darkness Presents: Rhythm Heaven (Review Wars III Winning Review That Tied for First)

It's paradise since the first time
I saw you standing there,
But it seems so long ago now, yeah.

It's paradise, but no map can
Show us how to get there.
Come on, oh, baby, planet of love...

Heart of Darkness presents...

Rhythm Heaven

Review Wars III Winning Review (That Tied for First)

Woo, another two months down, another review. Saying that my review writing speed is glacial would probably be an understatement. Anyway...

For those who've been keeping track, Pimppeter2 has been kind enough to host the Review Wars reviewing competition. Since Review Wars III has come to a close, and with my review coming in a tie for first (didn't see that coming) with MiracleOfSound, the time has come for me to post it for the world to see! And to finally get another review out here...

Anyway, here's my competition entry, a review of Rhythm Heaven, in all of its unedited glory!

Rhythm games are a relatively new fad when it comes to gaming. When the niche was opened due to Guitar Hero, it spurred a revolution in rhythm titles, only to have the entire niche saturated with plastic instruments, widespread karaoke stations, and rooms blaring with classical and contemporary music (well, from rock to beyond). So when a rhythm game comes along that isn't just a rehash of the already glutted genre, the result can be both refreshing yet similar at the same, and spur on hope for the genre yet. And one of those games is Rhythm Heaven.

image
Can't...stop...tapping...

So what, exactly, is Rhythm Heaven? As you may have guessed, Rhythm Heaven is a rhythm-based game released for the DS in 2008-2009 by Nintendo SDP Group No. 1. Rather than take the Guitar Hero approach to rhythm games, Rhythm Heaven opts for a more stylized feel, new music, and a deceptively simple but intuitive input system in order to differentiate itself in an attempt to breathe new life into the tired genre. The game is both accessible and challenging, and newcomers and veterans alike should enjoy what Rhythm Heaven has to offer.

One of the first things that should attract your attention is the game's artistic direction. Rather than go with the realistic route of human avatars, or the avant-garde style of wavy lines, Rhythm Heaven chooses to detail its minigames with a variety of styles and coloration. This ranges from the overly-simplified, monochrome choir boys from Glee Club (depicted), or the softer, more subtle feel of the taiko drummers from Drummer Duel (which also incorporates a mixture of Japanese art with American cheerleaders). Colors may also be saturated and solid or varied and gradient, but overall the styles and colorations of each minigame help to fit the style and motif of the content, and are varied enough to feel unique each time you change a song. The animations are also well done, and flow fluidly for a game so heavily reliant on user input.

The Glee Club is in town. Don't screw up your performance!

In the audio department, the sound, while not the top-budget orchestrations that permeate the market today, is highly polished, and each individual song not only matches the mood of each minigame perfectly, but also serves to complement the actual actions to an astounding degree. The music encompasses a wide variety of styles, from simplistic chromatic scales and fusions of rock and jazz to the saccharine sounds of pop. While some of the lyrics to some of the songs (there are six vocal songs total, of which three are a tad...overdone) may be a little off-putting, but they do serve to enhance the mood of each individual minigame. And, for what it's worth, the vocals come out crisp and clear through the DS's tiny speakers (assuming that it's played on the DS Phat).

The fusion of both audio and visuals is top-notch as well, and complement each other perfectly. This is a good thing, considering that you need your attention firing on all cylinders to play this game and even the slightest delay would be enough to throw your attention out of whack. Similarly to Guitar Hero (and, by extent of the genre, all other rhythm games), Rhythm Heaven requires you to match the beat as closely as possible to the track, but, unlike other rhythm games, Rhythm Heaven does NOT display your clicks for you. Instead, the game requires you to intently focus both on your ability to keep an internal pulse as well as the ability to coordinate hand and eye movements to an obstinately high degree. You input the beats by holding the DS and stylus in "book mode," and using the stylus to tap, flick, and slide your "cursor" along the touch screen and, while the location of your inputs doesn't matter, timing definitely does. And did I mention you need really good timing?

But there's more to the game than just completing the minigames, however. Every five levels, you will be present with a Remix level, which encompasses the preceding four minigames and mashes them up to a new theme and even more unique music. After Remix 6, the game will also throw your way even harder versions of (some) of the previous minigames, and the Remix stages can encompass, well, everything. And, every so often, you'll receive a challenge from the game to perfect a stage in its entirety, and you're given three chances to do so. Succeed, and the game will reward you with a medal, which can be used to unlock additional "games" and playmodes as well as some slight reading material that goes with the motif of their corresponding minigames. Gathering all the perfect medals will enable you to unlock everything, but this should only be attempted by a rhythm master.

Practice your DJ skills with DJ Yellow. 'Scratch-o, hey!'

However, Rhythm Heaven is not a faultless game in the slightest. For one, some of the minigames are downright punishing: a few early levels (Rhythm Rally in particular) are incredibly hard to time right. This comes down to the game's tutorial system, which introduces how to play a certain minigame before startup, but this system has the tendency to not only be vague, but also to sometimes gloss over the actual mechanics of the minigame altogether. In addition, some of the songs are incredibly saccharine (as stated above) and difficult to listen to, but muting the game would only serve to drive the difficulty spike up even further. And some songs require near constant metronomic tapping and end up turning into a test of endurance rather than skill.

The rewards aren't all that great, either. Some of the unlockable games are downright pitiful, and many are worthless in terms of distractibility. Perfecting on most songs also turns into a test of endurance and memorization, and the three-limit system only strives to make the whole process more infuriating than it needs to be--perfecting a song will only win you a medal when the game offers you the challenge, so the incentive to go back and replay certain minigames really turns into a question of either "practice" or "I really just want to do it again."

In the end, however, Rhythm Heaven is definitely a unique game, and one that breaks the mold of rhythm game enough to feel unique, while at the same time keeping the same intuitiveness of "hit the beats when I say 'NOW!'". If your think your musical skills are up to the task, you will surely find yourself in Rhythm Heaven when you play this game.

Bottom Line: Despite its few flaws and occasionally campy/saccharine music, Rhythm Heaven delivers in what it promises, and those of musical ability should find themselves in paradise with this game. For those who enjoy the rhythm genre, it won't break down any new walls, but it's certainly a change from Guitar Hero.

Recommendation: Despite it's brevity, it's worth buying for yourself if the stylized graphics and occasionally cheesy songs don't deter you. If not, it's at least worth a rent.

[Name removed] doesn't jest when he states that he can't stop tapping. He couldn't stop until he actually finished the game.

And that's it. Hope you enjoyed it, go check out MiracleOfSound's review, and I'll see you again in another two months.

Heart of Darkness really needs to write more...

Great job man.

'saccharine sounds of pop'... I especially liked that phrase for some reason, it just... flows.

Is it just me or does "joint-winning" sort of sound like you guys just won a dewbie? One thing you may want to do is edit the [name removed] so your name is no longer removed.

MiracleOfSound:
Great job man.

'saccharine sounds of pop'... I especially liked that phrase for some reason, it just... flows.

Thanks. And I like that phrase, too. Must be the repetition of the "s"'s.

Fightgarr:
Is it just me or does "joint-winning" sort of sound like you guys just won a dewbie? One thing you may want to do is edit the [name removed] so your name is no longer removed.

Noted and changed the title to something more wordy. If I knew how to phrase that better, I would, but I'm drawing a blank.

EDIT: As far as [name removed], I'm going to keep it in, just to keep the review as unedited. Which is also why I added another comment line after that review.

Well looky here... *fires up chainsaw... chainsaw dies* aww.

Anyway very well done, you manage to fill the review full of interesting words and phrases while still managing to inject some personality into it. Which is a lot more than I can say for almost every reviewer on this site, who usually tend to lean one way or the other. It's also good to see a review of yours amongst the mist of my reviews that you've torn to shreds :)

Stranger of Sorts:
Well looky here... *fires up chainsaw... chainsaw dies* aww.

Anyway very well done, you manage to fill the review full of interesting words and phrases while still managing to inject some personality into it. Which is a lot more than I can say for almost every reviewer on this site, who usually tend to lean one way or the other. It's also good to see a review of yours amongst the mist of my reviews that you've torn to shreds :)

Thanks. Comments are always appreciated. And I would still love to see someone tear into this at full force. I know that not all of it is great, and, rereading it, I can see I messed up my grammar in some spots. I would love someone to take a chainsaw to this.

And remember, I chainsaw because I love. Well, not really, but I chainsaw to polish and better. I mean, that's how diamonds are treated for public consumption. With diamond-coated chainsaws.

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:
Well looky here... *fires up chainsaw... chainsaw dies* aww.

Anyway very well done, you manage to fill the review full of interesting words and phrases while still managing to inject some personality into it. Which is a lot more than I can say for almost every reviewer on this site, who usually tend to lean one way or the other. It's also good to see a review of yours amongst the mist of my reviews that you've torn to shreds :)

Thanks. Comments are always appreciated. And I would still love to see someone tear into this at full force. I know that not all of it is great, and, rereading it, I can see I messed up my grammar in some spots. I would love someone to take a chainsaw to this.

And remember, I chainsaw because I love. Well, not really, but I chainsaw to polish and better. I mean, that's how diamonds are treated for public consumption. With diamond-coated chainsaws.

Hmm... if someone were to chainsaw into your review I wouldn't be the man for the job. I am completely inept at judging other people's reviews without saying they should do something that only I seem to do.

If I were to say one thing (keep in mind that this "one thing" will turn out to be completely wrong), I would say that in some cases the transitions between paragraphs could be improved on. How? I do not know, but I'm sure there's a way.

Stranger of Sorts:

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:
Well looky here... *fires up chainsaw... chainsaw dies* aww.

Anyway very well done, you manage to fill the review full of interesting words and phrases while still managing to inject some personality into it. Which is a lot more than I can say for almost every reviewer on this site, who usually tend to lean one way or the other. It's also good to see a review of yours amongst the mist of my reviews that you've torn to shreds :)

Thanks. Comments are always appreciated. And I would still love to see someone tear into this at full force. I know that not all of it is great, and, rereading it, I can see I messed up my grammar in some spots. I would love someone to take a chainsaw to this.

And remember, I chainsaw because I love. Well, not really, but I chainsaw to polish and better. I mean, that's how diamonds are treated for public consumption. With diamond-coated chainsaws.

Hmm... if someone were to chainsaw into your review I wouldn't be the man for the job. I am completely inept at judging other people's reviews without saying they should do something that only I seem to do.

If I were to say one thing (keep in mind that this "one thing" will turn out to be completely wrong), I would say that in some cases the transitions between paragraphs could be improved on. How? I do not know, but I'm sure there's a way.

Yeah, my transitions could be better. I find that that's one of my weak points, as I tend to rely on refutations (but), "however," and "also" to transition. Probably the best way to fix that would be to write more.

Is it getting chilly in here, or is it just me?

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:
Well looky here... *fires up chainsaw... chainsaw dies* aww.

Anyway very well done, you manage to fill the review full of interesting words and phrases while still managing to inject some personality into it. Which is a lot more than I can say for almost every reviewer on this site, who usually tend to lean one way or the other. It's also good to see a review of yours amongst the mist of my reviews that you've torn to shreds :)

Thanks. Comments are always appreciated. And I would still love to see someone tear into this at full force. I know that not all of it is great, and, rereading it, I can see I messed up my grammar in some spots. I would love someone to take a chainsaw to this.

And remember, I chainsaw because I love. Well, not really, but I chainsaw to polish and better. I mean, that's how diamonds are treated for public consumption. With diamond-coated chainsaws.

Hmm... if someone were to chainsaw into your review I wouldn't be the man for the job. I am completely inept at judging other people's reviews without saying they should do something that only I seem to do.

If I were to say one thing (keep in mind that this "one thing" will turn out to be completely wrong), I would say that in some cases the transitions between paragraphs could be improved on. How? I do not know, but I'm sure there's a way.

Yeah, my transitions could be better. I find that that's one of my weak points, as I tend to rely on refutations (but), "however," and "also" to transition. Probably the best way to fix that would be to write more.

Is it getting chilly in here, or is it just me?

Positively freezing. Extra views/comments doesn't seem to have worked out the way it was promised. I think everyone's too occupied with wondering how NewClassic came last, though now I've read his review I realise why.

Stranger of Sorts:
Positively freezing. Extra views/comments doesn't seem to have worked out the way it was promised. I think everyone's too occupied with wondering how NewClassic came last, though now I've read his review I realise why.

Yeah, Nuke's position surprised me, too, especially considering he went in as the top contender.

And I was referencing my review about my "glacial" writing style for the chilly remark. *ba-dum-tish*

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:
Positively freezing. Extra views/comments doesn't seem to have worked out the way it was promised. I think everyone's too occupied with wondering how NewClassic came last, though now I've read his review I realise why.

Yeah, Nuke's position surprised me, too, especially considering he went in as the top contender.

And I was referencing my review about my "glacial" writing style for the chilly remark. *ba-dum-tish*

Well I'm afraid I am far too blunt in my approach to recognise things like that, although on occasion I do surprise myself.

Stranger of Sorts:

Heart of Darkness:

Stranger of Sorts:
Positively freezing. Extra views/comments doesn't seem to have worked out the way it was promised. I think everyone's too occupied with wondering how NewClassic came last, though now I've read his review I realise why.

Yeah, Nuke's position surprised me, too, especially considering he went in as the top contender.

And I was referencing my review about my "glacial" writing style for the chilly remark. *ba-dum-tish*

Well I'm afraid I am far too blunt in my approach to recognise things like that, although on occasion I do surprise myself.

And now you know...

Hmm. Now what?

This was a great review, and I believe I sent you a fulled out sheet with my scores. Either way, it was interesting mostly becuase it won on an somewhat "casual" game. So it was well pulled off. Either way, congrats on a job well done and I hope Review Wars sees you again.

Pimppeter2:
This was a great review, and I believe I sent you a fulled out sheet with my scores. Either way, it was interesting mostly becuase it won on an somewhat "casual" game. So it was well pulled off. Either way, congrats on a job well done and I hope Review Wars sees you again.

Danke, Herr Pimp. I'll be sure to participate in the next one.

 

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