Review
Rhythm Heaven Fever

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 24th, 2012

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Rhythm games are, by their very nature, addictive – especially if you are musically inclined. With one of the simplest goals of any game type (to keep the rhythm), this genre is very easy to get into and is, more often than not, packed to the brim with just-one-more-song-I-swear game-play. A few years ago, Rhythm Heaven for the Nintendo DS had us tapping our feet to the beat and swearing a blue streak when we missed a cue. Now, the franchise makes a triumphant return with Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii; how does it stack up against the DS version? Let’s find out!

When you first start up the game, you are subjected to a rhythm test. There is no pass or fail for this particular analysis of your rhythmic ability (thank goodness, too, because I probably could have done better). Of course, being a human being, I cast a suspicious eye at the fact that it showed me my results in the first place; it made me wonder how hard the game proper was going to be if my “score” on the test was not as good as I would want it to be? It turns out that the game is actually much easier than the DS version (with the exception of some of the in-game menu navigation – sometimes a pain in the butt).

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Everybody loves a winner.

If you have never played any of the Rhythm Heaven games before, I would urge you to pick one of them up. Essentially, they are each a giant bag of rhythm-based mini-games that feel like fun, cartoon-ish music videos. On the Wii, playing the game involves pressing or holding the A button, or both A and B buttons simultaneously. Whether you are being taught by simians how to drive a golf ball (tap A), or screwing the heads onto robots in a factory (hold A+B and release), you will be treated with a brief -yet surprisingly thorough- tutorial before being launched into the main portion of the level.

Game-play is simple, foregoing motion controls all together. At the beginning, you will be hitting the buttons in a fairly straightforward manner, primarily dealing with changing tempos. Eventually you will have to deal with other, more complicated factors (like syncopation) that make the game more challenging. I mentioned earlier that I found this game easier than the previous DS title; to be more precise, I found the scoring more forgiving. Finishing a song opens up more for play, and each set is capped off with a remix of all of the songs in the level (that will have you playing the corresponding set of mini-games, also remixed).

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If you don’t keep the rhythm, then you’re a forking loser.

In some ways, the game is insidious, testing ability to multi-task. If it was simply based on sound cues it would be much different than the insanity that you are treated to in the game. Crazy things are afoot; distractions galore are thrown your way as you tap or hold (or tap and hold) your way through each song. This is par for the course in the Rhythm Heaven franchise; and really, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Visually, there is no real difference between the DS game and this one; indeed, the graphics look like they were pulled off of the little screen and stretched onto a bigger one. Is this a negative? Not really; audio and game-play are key for this title – and those have both remained true to the series. it ends up retaining some measure of quirkiness and fun. The music is great – very catchy. This is one of those games that will have you whistling or humming the songs long after you have turned off your Wii. It is truly amazing how much musical variety has been packed into the game – all without becoming annoying.

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For those of you with lots of spare time…

While completing songs unlocks new levels, performing well unlocks other stuff. Attaining medals in levels will add music to the jukebox, and open up the cafe. Endless rhythm games eventually become available, as do the stories behind each song. There is a lot to do with this game (including a multi-player mode that feels tacked on), so you will get your moneys worth.

If you enjoyed the previous handheld title, or like challenging rhythm games, this is for you. For what amounts to the price of a DS title, you get a giant version that you play with a Wii-mote. Crappy menu design choices (just inconvenient) are offset by addictive game-play and catchy tunes. Normally, given the similarities between this and the previous DS title, I would say that you could really get away with owning either one. However, there are enough differences in the music and mini-games to make this is a definite must-buy If you haven’t played the series before, this is a great entry title for you!

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