One egg, one egg, one egg, one egg… one egg… HANDFUL OF PEAS!
You see that above? That’s just one of the many crazy things that you’ll hear from Nintendo’s latest foot-stomping beat-bopping rhythm game, also known as the wacky beast called Rhythm Heaven Fever. A game of bright colors and personality, Fever is the latest entry to the Rhythm Heaven franchise, and the first entry to be on a home console. But how well did Rhythm Heaven Fever make the transition from portable to console? Well, for starters, this game is still Rhythm Heaven as you know it. Which means it’s great.
What is Rhythm Heaven, you ask? It’s hard to describe such a unique and wacky game. At it’s core, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a fairly basic rhythm game that utilizes only two buttons, A and B, to form patterns in a rhythmic manner. Depending on which buttons you press when you press them, and how fast you press them, you can perform different types of patterns that go along with the stage’s given music. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. But Rhythm Heaven Fever becomes surprisingly complex.
Take, for example, the minigame “Samarai Slice.” In this minigame, you press A once to perform a slice, press A twice to perform a double slice, and press and hold both A and B at the same time to perform a combo attack. Depending on which enemy you are facing and how fast each subsequent enemy appears, you will have to choose between one of these three different attacks. Where’s the rhythm part? Well, you should know that all enemy appearances and player attacks go with the beat of the background music. Crazy, right?
Does that sound to complicated? Fear not. The game provides numerous audio and visual cues to help you out along the way. Even so, many of these minigames are surprisingly difficult, as several of them purposely block your view of the action in order to force you to rely solely on the stage’s audio cues. Tricky, I know. And totally evil.
Do some of the games become impossibly hard, you ask? The answer is YES. Even being one who’s been playing piano since I was in my mother’s womb, there were several games that I did have a lot of trouble with. Some stages took five or six tries until I finally passed. Though this challenge may be welcome to some, but it’s actually one of the weakest points of the game. You see, the game won’t allow you to move onto the next stage until after you pass it, and the problem is, the feedback system tells me little about what specific parts I need to improve on, opting to give me the same generic message every single time: “Try Again.” What could have been better? How close was I to passing? Thankfully, there is a menu option that let’s you skip a stage, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of frustration over the multiple “Try Agains” that I just received, nor does it help me pass the stage when I want to come back to play it again. Sheesh.
The game features 40 “normal” stages and 10 “remix” stages. As said before, each normal stage is quite unique, forcing you to analyze the rhythm for each minigame differently. And each stage lets you play as a different character with a different storyline; you’ll play as a sweaty wrestler, a pot full of dough, and a flock-stepping bird within a flock-stepping bird (birdception!), among other crazy things. After every 4 normal stages comes a remix stage, or boss stage, if you will. These stages combine components of the four previous minigames and puts them into an upbeat remix that challenge your skills in a challenging montage of different rhythms. Needless to say, these remix stages are some of the hardest stages in the game.
Occasionally, a random challenge will appear as you progress through the game. In order to pass these challenges, you must achieve a “Perfect” on the given song. Frankly, getting “Perfects” on all of these minigames are impossible, unless you have really, really good rhythm. Your reward is usually an audio track or a short narrative story. Is it worth the time to achieve “Perfects” on each and every single minigame? Personally, I say NO. Though audio tracks are nice (the game really does have SUPERB music) and the little stories are kinda cute, these rewards are not worth the hours of frustration you’ll have with trying to pass all of these challenges. It’s just too hard, and you only have 3 tries to complete it. And it hurts your fingers. I don’t understand why you can’t just aim for a “Perfect” any time you want. It’s a strange design decision that doesn’t do a whole lot to help the game.
Aside of the main rhythm games, Rhythm Heaven Fever also has a plethora of other features. The multi-player feature, something new to the series, allows you and another friend to tackle several minigames together. Your rating depends on how accurate your timing is and how well you sync with your partner (or, if you’re a loner, how well your right hand syncs with your left hand). Other activities include trying your best to achieve high scores in “Endless Games” (which are basically rhythm games that never end, also available in multi-player mode) and “Rhythm Toys” (which allow you to tinker with a few rhythm tools that really serve no purpose whatsoever), both of which are unlocked after performing a certain number of “Superb” ratings in the main game. There’s also an unlockable “Extra Games” section for those who want a taste of some of the games from previous entries of the Rhythm Heaven franchise. If you’re tired of playing, go ahead and chill in the “Café” where you can listen to the audio tracks and read the short stories that you unlocked via those previously mentioned (and devilously difficult) “Perfect” challenges in the main game.
Sadly, even with so many things going for it, there are still many things that hold the game back. Rhythm Heaven Fever is still relatively shallow; you can’t compete for high scores, and there is still only one difficulty level for each song. Even so, the real question is this: is Rhythm Heaven Fever right for you? Here’s my answer. If you enjoyed the DS entry of Rhythm Heaven, you’ll absolutely adore Rhythm Heaven Fever. If you like music games, whether it be modern hits like Dance Dance Revolution or classic PSOne titles like Parappa the Rapper, then you’ll likely enjoy this game too. And even if you don’t like rhythm/music games, you should still try this one out. It’s simplicity makes the game accessible to anyone, and its wacky character will make you fall in love with the game. Even so, this game isn’t for everyone; it’s high difficulty may turn some players off, and if you found the DS Rhythm Heaven to be too repetitive (and if you do, then why are you even reading this review?), then this game probably won’t change your mind about the franchise. But at a price tag of $30, this game is a steal. And that’s not because it’s cheap. It’s because Rhythm Heaven Fever is a great game that is both fun and addicting. It may be a bit shallow, but Fever is sure a hell lot of fun.