With more catchy tunes and improved graphics, Rhythm Heaven's first console iteration is shaping up to look like a good time.
For those of you who never played the first two entries in the series - Ok, first off, you are terrible people - Rhythm Heaven is a goofy collection of rhythm-based mini-games made by the WarioWare team. The Game Boy Advance debut never made it to the States, but it's inferior, DS sequel did. Now, we have the Wii follow-up - one I didn't know existed until I stumbled upon it on the show floor.
Don't worry, series fans: The transition to Wii doesn't mean gimmicky motion controls galore. Rhythm Heaven Wii continues to keep things stupid-simple, requiring only pressing a button or two in time to the beat. This Wii sequel keeps the simplicity while improving the experience with better sound and graphics that a console can provide.
The demo contained three games/songs. The first game involved stabbing a fork in time as peas flew across in the screen in time to the beat. The sound, music and graphics keep the lo-fi charm of the original without sacrificing fidelity. There isn't much going on in these games, but the attention to detail is nice. For instance, if you slightly missed the beat, the pea would get stuck between two prongs of the fork instead of stabbed directly.
The second game was a reiteration of the samurai game in the GBA debut. You slice demons who hop out of a black portal, in time to the beat. As the level progress, slower demons that alter the rhythm, fog that covers the visual cues and green demons that require to press both the A and B buttons add to the challenge.
The final level, and my personal favorite, involved a relentless game of Badminton between a dog and cat fighter pilots. Throughout the song, your cat opponent repositions himself high and far, altering the timing required. Of the three games, it's the trickiest and the most visually appealing. Colorful trees and blue sky blur across the screen and the character animation helps you prepare for a button press.
I never expected Nintendo to make another Rhythm Heaven, especially one for consoles, so discovering a Wii sequel was one of E3's greatest surprises. No multiplayer was shown at E3, but the idea still has me excited to see it in action.
A U.S. release was confirmed at E3, but there is currently no release date. However, the game is very accessible to non-Japanese speakers and would make for an excellent import when it hits store shelves July 21 in Japan.