In 2009, North American gamers were introduced to a brand new concept by Kazuyoshi Osawa - who had previously worked on WarioWare titles - when Nintendo brought over Rhythm Heaven for the DS from Japan. The game was aiming for the same type of “pick up and play”, accessible fun that the WarioWare games offer. Three years later, Nintendo brings us the sequel, this time on the Wii, which gives us similar mechanics and a slew of new mini-games. Will it be enough to convince gamers to try it out? Read on…
The mechanics are extremely simple. The control scheme only involves two buttons, no motion recognition or joystick movement. Surprised? Don’t be. The simple mechanics are the heart and soul of this game as the whole concept revolves around 50 rhythm-based mini-games that all work similarly: Players are given audio and visual cues with which they must work to perfectly time their button presses. Sounds simple enough, right?
First of all, let’s talk about the most important aspect with this game type: The content. Essentially, Fever offers 3 components: A single-player mode featuring a series of mini-games, an unlockable multiplayer mode in which 2 players compete in the mini-games from the single player mode, and a collection of bonus mini-games that are unlockable based upon your performance in the single player mode. As you can see, the real meat of the game is in the mini-games of the single player mode. Much like what is found in the WarioWare series, there is no story here. The focal point of the entire experience resides in completing a series of 50 different rhythm games that get progressively harder as you go. 10 of the 50 are dubbed “remixes”, and act as boss stages that simply recompile the past 4 challenges and put them all in one slightly longer challenge. The concept is obviously very simple; the players will find themselves in different situations that require them to press either A, B or both to a certain beat.
"Rhythm Heaven Fever is a very unique experience that is definitely worth a look."
Every single mini-game uses those same mechanics, and Nintendo does a remarkable job keeping things fresh by varying the visuals and the musical stylings in each of the original themes that play through every mini-game. However, despite Nintendo’s efforts, players will undoubtedly start feeling burnt-out after a while given the limited variety of interactivity offered by the game. Once it sets in, boredom can become a factor due to the extreme repetitiveness. The objective always remains the same, and once you become familiar with the concept, you may start looking for something else to do. That’s not to say the game is boring; it isn’t. The gameplay is incredibly fun and rewarding, the mechanics work extremely well and, for what it tries to accomplish, it’s hard to imagine how major improvements could have been made to the gameplay. The frustrating part, though, resides in the user interface. Just like the gameplay mechanics, the user interface is kept to a strict minimum, and can feel pretty frustrating at times. For example, there is no meter to indicate how well you are doing. While some may say it helps with concentration by minimizing distractions, I found myself longing for it as I wondered if I should just restart the mini-game after messing up at the beginning. That brings us to the second main problem: There is no retry button! It may sound like a minor gripe, but it truly is a major problem for this type of game. You are forced to either quit and go through the menu again, or to wait until the challenge is over if you want to start over after missing too many beats. Given the sometimes inhumane level of difficulty in the later stages, it is a real issue that could have been easily rectified.
With that said, in the grand scheme of things, the core experience is a really fun one that many players will undoubtedly enjoy. The multiplayer side of the game is welcome and provides a fun, competitive angle. However, it is limited and the lack of a 4-player mode is disappointing. Despite all that, larger groups of people could still have a great time given how entertaining it is to watch someone play, and purposefully mess up their concentration!
While RHF does offer a very enjoyable experience, the biggest question it raises is about its value. Can someone justify paying a full $29.99 for this? In my case, I believe the answer is “hardly”. While the game is still great, I couldn’t help but feel like it would be a better fit as a downloadable title on Nintendo’s WiiWare service. I think it perfectly highlights the changes the game industry has been going through for the past several years, especially with the arrival of Apple as a major competitor with its cheap iPhone and iPad games. Gamers nowadays seem to demand certain types of games to be sold at a cheaper price, which is the case for games like this. Paying a high price becomes less and less attractive when games that actually offer a complex visual and gameplay experience coupled with a good storyline and high production values are available at the same cost. Simplicity can be good, but in this case, it makes it hard to justify paying so much.
In terms of presentation, the game is in the same ballpark as the aforementioned WarioWare titles. It features simplistic drawings and very little animation. The cartoonish, goofy style remains a design choice that truly pays off at the end of the day since the title manages to have an instantly recognizable charm to it and a very unique look. As for the music, it is probably the strongest point of the game. Featuring an original soundtrack with a definite Japanese flair to it, Fever will almost certainly manage to hard-wire its music into your brain.
Overall, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a very unique experience that is definitely worth a look. Featuring simple, accessible and addictive gameplay, unique and charming visuals and a soundtrack that is simply to die for, the game impresses on many levels. However, as a game reviewer, the main question I have to answer still remains “is this game worth my time and money?” and unfortunately, it simply doesn’t fit the requirements for the latter. Had RHF been available for a much, much cheaper price on the WiiWare platform, it most certainly would have scored a bit higher. Sadly, I just can’t bring myself to give it much more than this considering its price tag.
Release date : 2012-02-10
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
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