Rhythm Heaven Fever

Rhythm Heaven Fever - Review

by Alex St-Amour, posted on 20 March 2012 / 2,479 Views

Ah Nintendo, first you made me realise I need to lose a few pounds by playing Wii Fit and now you’re out to prove to me that I have no sense of rhythm? What did I ever do to you? Well, I hate to admit it, but you were right about the weight thing and it appears that you’ve gotten me yet again, as after playing through Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii I can assuredly say that my musical timing is almost non-existent Which begs the question: is this edition of Rhythm Heaven a party game for the masses, or should only those with master's degrees in musical theory apply?

Like its DS predecessor, Rhythm Heaven Fever is all about getting in synch with the rhythm of the game’s beats. Each track is presented as its own mini-game, with its own rules, pacing and style. After you finish a group of four stages you are challenged with a ‘Remix’ level that mixes the previous mini-games into a WarioWare style musical assault; beat it and you can move on to the next set of mini-games. It’s a pretty simple premise but that’s exactly what this series was designed for and it’s nice to play a game that sticks to what it does well and doesn’t try to stretch itself too thinly. 

Unlike the dual screened version, which had you using the ‘new age’ control method of tapping and sliding on the touch screen, the Wii version takes a simpler approach by asking you to only use the ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons. This is definitely a breath of fresh air as far as party games on Nintendo’s console goes, which usually have you shaking a Wii Remote as if you're training for a bodybuilding competition. The downside, however, is that unlike other Wii party games this one is definitely geared towards a slightly older audience (don’t let the flashy colors fool you) that can pick up on subtle audio cues and appreciate the gruelling difficulty.

The main thing holding the game back is the absolutely broken rating system. After every level you're given a title, either ‘Try Again’, ‘OK’, or ‘Superb. The problem is that the game gives you no indication of how you're doing during a level. I've run into several instances of having near-perfect runs only to get an ‘OK’, only to try again, miss a few more beats and yet still receive a ‘Superb’ rating.

Even more confusing is that this odd rating system is perfectly fixed in the game’s multiplayer mode. Here, after every level, both you and your partner earn a score and see how much you contributed to your grade. It’s absolutely mind-boggling that this simple feature is completely missing from the single player mode and yet is not only present in the two-player mode but presented as an important part of the experience. Honestly, it would have made trying to get all of the medals in the single player mode so much less frustrating if this simple addition were present throughout the entire game.

Being developed by the same minds behind the WarioWare series, Rhythm Heaven Fever will immediately draw you in with its ridiculously over the top visuals. Everything in the game is presented in gorgeous 2D animation that helps give the game a look that is all its own. The developers also did a great job in the writing department, scripting a game that can make fun of both itself and the crazy situations that you find yourself in, whether it be rounds of golf with a mandrill, aerial badminton, or rapping about love.

Of course, as with any music-based video game, the most important aspect is the soundtrack. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Rhythm Heaven Fever, where a track with a bad or subtle beat can completely throw you off the groove. Thankfully most of the mini-games featured here have some pretty catchy tunes that you can easily identify the rhythm of, however there are definitely a distinct few that will have you pulling your hair out in frustration. I should also mention the great work put in by Japanese artist Tsunku, who helped to write the tracks and created his own songs just for the game.

Rhythm Heaven Fever features 50 mini-games. While it won’t take you more than a few hours to sample each track, earning all of the medals and unlocking the game’s slew of unlockables can add some serious playtime to the experience. Add to this several addictive hidden mini-games and a fun multiplayer mode and you have a game that is sure to be a hit if you have the right kind of players around. If you’re on the fence about picking up a copy, it's good to know that this is also a budget title that only costs $30; a great price considering the amount of content you get.

At the end of the day, while I was frustrated with Rhythm Heaven Fever forcing my ear to hear things it couldn’t, I kept coming back for more. The addictive gameplay, wacky and fun visuals, and solid soundtrack kept calling to me like a reporter asking gibberish questions and I couldn’t put the Wii Remote down. Now be warned, this game is not for everyone, especially young kids and people with no sense of humor, but if you want to experience something totally off the wall and which will put a smile on the faces of everyone in the room, then look no further.

This review is based on a retail copy of Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii.

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