Review – Rhythm Heaven Fever

Review Rhythm Heaven Fever
Videogame releases comprised entirely of mini-games leave me struggling come review time, puzzling over some means to measure and weigh how the individual offerings form together into a cohesive experience. The situation might be easier if today’s game was 101-disposable-games-in-a-box – insofar as I could probably get away with giving the quick thumbs up or down to each tiny game and be done with it.

But as with the WarioWare series, Rhythm Heaven is less about bargain quantity and much more about offering dozens of brilliant ideas for tiny games – a landslide of joyful tactile discoveries that find harmony in the audio and visual to leave an impression best captured by a snapshot of the player’s lips curling into a smile the longer they play. My best attempts to describe the experience to others recently tended to descend into off-key singing and wild hand gestures while hurriedly listing off the games that stood out most.

The best review is probably that there are so many offerings from Rhythm Heaven Fever that I feel obliged to mention. If you’re willing to read on however, I’ll try to offer some more constructive words on the subject.


Review Rhythm Heaven Fever
One of these mini-games I was recently trying to sing-explain at the dinner table is Love Rap, which asks players to simply press a single button to repeat lyrics in time with another backup singer for a hip hop performance by MC Adore. Players need to nail the timing after Adore utters recurring lines such as “fo’ sho” and “crazy into you”. The experience found me bobbing my head to keep the beat, much like the mini-game Double Date, which again used a single button press, this time to kick away sports balls to protect a couple of weasels while sitting on a park bench with a date. Another single-button favorite is Ringside, where players fill the shoes of a wrestler answering interview questions and posing for press photos. Already I’m three games in and haven’t mentioned the madness of Flock Step’s prancing birds.

While I love how crazy the variety of these activates sounds, it’s only a small example of how many ways Rhythm Heaven Fever finds to shake up the act of simply pressing one button. Some of the games will ask players to press the A and B buttons simultaneously to perform an action, but the larger share of games rely solely on the A button while conjuring situations and activities that almost always feel unique from the others. There are small moments of similarity that pop up – rolling seals aren’t far removed from dancing lobsters – but the game continually surprises with fresh and bizarre oddities that found me hurriedly pushing through each in anticipation of what might come next.

Review Rhythm Heaven Fever
The desire to uncover every offering can stir some irritation when hitting a game that isn’t as easy to sync with, even after repeated replays. Each game starts with a tutorial covering the necessary prompts and beats required for success, but there are times where my rhythm skills are sadly lacking. Monkey Watch was assuredly the worst for exposing my rhythm deficiency, requiring me to maintain an alternating rhythm for a longer period of time versus the quick reactive actions found in the larger share of mini-games.

For the most part, the key is listening and staying in time to the beat of each game, hearing the precise moment of action or maintaining actions at key times. There’s a bit of trickery that found me often looking for visual cues as well, which is sometimes necessary in addition to the beat – helpful when working with a cheer squad, essential when firing pins through widgets.

As more mini-games are unlocked, the difficulty rises by adding a larger variety of beats and patterns to remember for each game, requiring players to switch between response timings in a hurry. This is put to the test by remix stages that splice the challenges of four mini-games together, quickly and cleverly swapping between activities to the beat of some rather memorable musical numbers.

Players are graded after each mini-game, with ratings varying between failing, being just good enough to pass, being good enough to get a medal, and achieving perfection.

If you happen to fail a stage three times in a row, you can visit the game’s friendly canine barista at the coffee shop, who will offer to show you a tutorial or simply unlock the next available stage. This will work for the first seven stages, with each offering four mini-games and one remix stage. An additional three stages offer revisits on established mini-games, taking the total to ten stages with fifty individual games.

Review Rhythm Heaven Fever
Rhythm Heaven Fever offers some unlockable distractions as well, such as Rhythm Toys and Endless Games, which lends some quick additions to the package but certainly won’t steal players away from the main course for very long.

Occasionally the game will challenge players to achieve perfection on a certain stage, rewarding the victorious with reading material and/or music tracks that can be accessed at the coffee shop as well. Fever also introduces two-player mode, which challenges rhythm minded partners to achieve harmony to pass select levels based on a shared performance.

Nintendo’s mini-game releases are never hard-pressed to marvel me for a time, but what makes Fever’s offerings more memorable is the coordination of the audio and visual to deliver a sense of the tactile that bypasses the brain to talk straight to my hands. At least, this is how I choose to explain the times when I earnestly have no idea how I achieved a medal.

Review Rhythm Heaven Fever
The rhythm is infectious here, worming a way into the brain, possibly causing you to hum strange songs at inappropriate times. If you happen to have a dance partner in mind, there’s definitely added longevity and enjoyment to be had here, and it’s always interesting to discover which mini-games speak to different players.

As a single-player experience, it won’t take players long to chew through these games, certainly favoring those willing to return for repeated bids at perfection after the initial wow factor wears off. The fact that Fever is hitting the Wii for a retail price of thirty dollars however, which is less than the price of the last DS release, certainly helps extend the invitation to put your rhythm to the test at least once.


Developer
Nintendo, TNX

Publisher
Nintendo

System
Nintendo Wii

Modes
Singleplayer, Local 2-player

Release Date
February 13, 2012

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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  • EdEN

    Need to work on my backlog since I decided I would only buy a new game after finishing 5… Oh, wait, I just finished Rabbids Travel in Time 3D today and it IS lucky number 5! Guess I have a date with RHF after all.

  • Anonymous

    that actually reads very much like Rhythm Heaven on the DS. almost verbatim.  I’m totally loving RH so I guess I’ll keep my eyes pealed for a sale on this one too.