Have you ever wanted to play badminton with a cat and dog as they fly their airplanes over the horizon? Or felt a great desire to play the tambourine with a dancing monkey? What if that monkey could help with your golf swing? All this and much more await you as enter the whimsical world of Rhythm Heaven Fever.
Hot pink monkeys with shades. Careful, they're bad boys!
Rhythm Heaven Fever is the sequel to the DS Rhythm Heaven, and much like the game before it, players' rhythm skills are fully tested while all sorts of crazy events and absurd characters interact as the player progresses through the long list of 'levels.' There are only two button inputs you will ever need to play: (1) the A button and (2) the A & B button pressed simultaneously. The game structure follows a basic pattern where you play four unrelated 'levels,' each with its own music and set of rules, followed by a fifth level called the 'remix' that combines the previous levels into one mishmash of rhythm tastiness. Rinse, repeat. These remixes provide some of the greatest challenges as the player is abruptly switched between the different songs/ rhythms, forcing you to react accordingly while staying on the beat and avoiding the distractions. The fact you're pressing buttons instead of tapping and swiping as in the DS version gives you better precision, especially when some of the levels give you little room for error.
So how do you play Rhythm Heaven Fever? It's all about pressing the right buttons at the right time. As the music plays in any given level, you will have to tap the buttons (or in some cases, hold and release the buttons) with correct timing to fill in or supplement the music you hear. Many times there also visual indicators as additional aids to identify the correct moments, but the game deviously incorporates the graphics in clever attempts at throwing you off the beat.
The graphics in the game are very bold, bright, and clean. Although many times there's not a whole lot of flash or advanced rendering techniques being used, the graphics are always integrated fittingly well with the music and gameplay that. As mentioned before, distractions are abundant and can be quite humorous. For example, in one level a transparent storyboard/ comic book style panel overlays the entire screen. The funny part is there's no way you're going to be able to read or pay attention to it when you're so focused on keeping the beat of the song. These kinds of moments happen very often and make the game perfect to play in group settings, where bystanders/ spectators can appreciate all the stuff that's happening and trying to screw over the player.
Not surprisingly, the music is very catchy and covers a broad range of musical styles to satisfy a variety of tastes, with some of the levels also including full songs with vocals. I can't stress enough what a fantastic job Nintendo's done with the localization for this Japanese game. The singers are excellent and the songs fit perfectly with the gameplay, ensuring an audio delight to anyone within earshot. The great localization is also apparent in other aspects, particularly the writing; in most cases text is very clever and genuinely funny, including the descriptor/ intros kicking off each level.
The amount of unlockable prizes and the desire to perfect every one of the levels greatly extends the depth and replayability of the game. Most of the unlockables can be achieved by getting medals, which you have to earn by achieving a 'Superb' grade on any given level (by making as few mistakes as possible). Earning enough medals allows you to unlock some entertaining 'Rhythm Toys.' There are also some 'Endless Games' that you can play for a high score (no online leaderboard though). 2-player mode must be unlocked one game at a time, and unfortunately there aren't very many of them compared to the single player mode, but I found these very satisfying to play. It's hard to explain, but simply having two people playing at the same time increases the craziness: You're distracting each other on the screen, visually and audibly (when one person misses a beat it can screw up the other person); you're also competing because you want to get the better score, yet cooperating at the same time to get that highly desired 'Superb' rating. It's a Nintendo trademark to feature this friend/ foe relationship in multiplayer, and it's done very well here. It's just too limited.
Part of the fun in playing Fever is just soaking in all the absurd situations happening at any given time. Because none of the scenarios really make much sense (Air Rally is a fun example), you're left anticipating the next challenge just to see what else the game is going to throw your way. Every level has an animation or sound to indicate you either missed a beat or didn't do hit it quite right. Most of the time, these indicators are absolutely funny to witness. The karate man will spin on his back when he messes up his combo, the guy eating peas with the fork will cough and/ or choke when the pea gets stuck between the tines of the fork just before he devours it, your tap-dancing partner will blow a raspberry, and so on.
Get. Away. you little basketball, I'm on a date and the weasels are watching!
One of the downsides of the game is simply its rhythm nature; it's the core of the gameplay and little, if nothing, more than that. Having said that, Nintendo has done an excellent job of adding enough variety and surprises to prevent the game from ever becoming boring. If you're not a fan of the genre, it's possible the rhythm emphasis can prove to be exceedingly frustrating and difficult. The game could be hit or miss with even some rhythm genre fans. However, the game does a nice job of showing you the basics through a tutorial for every level, and you can also watch a demo to understand the timing. When this help is still not enough for you to overcome a difficult obstacle, you are given opportunities to bypass levels you are struggling with, if you so desire. It's also worth noting that no matter how difficult any individual level is, there is always a discernible pattern; it's only a matter of picking up on it and being able to react quickly. Or pick up the rhythm through a lot of practice and trial and error.
In the end, I have to give this game a high recommendation based on the fact it's such a joy to play. Nintendo has taken such a simple gameplay concept, perfected it, and presented it in a beautiful package that will leave you smiling for a long time.
Tap Troupe is quite fun, but has a similar problem in that the final beat on the "tap-tap-TAP" parts tends to change at random--sometimes it's on the downbeat, sometimes the upbeat, and sometimes on a weird half-beat thing.
I thought that was just me. It really is weird like that? Hm.
I guess I could have gone into more detail about the length of the game, but honestly for the price and genre of this game, the length is just right. It depends on how much you put into it and whether you or not you grasp doing well on the songs the first few tries or not. I just checked my Nintendo Channel data, and I have 24 hr 18 minutes into the game so far. Keep in mind this number may be a bit high compared to some other folks, considering I have been going back and replaying songs to get medals (I have 46 out of 50), shooting for high scores in the Endless Games, letting my wife play on her save file, and playing the game when friends and family come to visit.
Well said! Regarding problems with input delays, I never had an issue with delays between button presses and the resulting action on-screen, but I suppose the fact that everyone's visual/ audio set up is different can result in different delays, compared to a fixed system like the DS that will be the same for all users.
Furthermore, when you die, there is no GAME OVER screen, but much like BIT.TRIP RUNNER and several other indie titles, you are immediately thrown right back into the game at the last checkpoint that you hit. It kind of amazes me that indie developers have figured out something that the major developers are still a bit behind on, which is that we play video games to play video games, and we don't want to needlessly be pulled out of the game to see GAME OVER screens and CONTINUE options all of the time.
Honestly, I don't get why this is so prevalent in indie games and like absolutely next to no major developers have caught onto it yet.