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Rhythm Heaven (Nintendo DS) Review
Rhythm Heaven on the DS
Review by 
8.66/10 from 12 user ratings

Rhythm Heaven is a game that relies heavily on the player’s sense of… rhythm, of course! The basic gameplay involves tapping and sliding across the touch screen while following along with the music.

The main categories of playing the levels include:
-Be a member of a group and play your note when it’s your turn so that the song can continue to flow.
-Listen to your partner play some notes, and then play those same tunes using the correct timing.
-Simply follow the beat of the music.

You hold the DS in book-fashion, with the touch screen to your right, if you’re right handed.
You can also configure the touch screen to your left if you’re left handed.

Each level is basically a music track or sometimes even a full-fledged song (with vocals), and you are scored based on well you hit all the correct notes. The method by which this is implemented is very creative, and some of the levels seem to cross over into entirely different genres. For example, one level is reminiscent of a space shooter, where enemy space ships pop up on the screen. Another level has you playing table tennis against an opponent.

Is it a space shooter?

Or a table tennis game?

What’s interesting about the game is that the rhythm and sound are all you really need to succeed. The visuals in the game may seem to be another cue as to the correct timing of the notes, but they can become a distraction if you are trying to perfectly match the sounds to the action on-screen. This is a mistake I often made early on and I had to fight my instinct to play the game based on visual clues rather than the audio clues. Indeed, every piece of audio is critical, and you’ll notice that the music and sound effects from the ongoing action are all following the rhythm just nicely.

Obviously the music is the star of the show, and this game has a nice mix of tunes, spanning a variety of genres, from the standard J-pop to classic rock and ska, to jazz and hip-hop and many points in between. The music, created by legendary Japanese pop-star producer TSUNKU, is addictive and catchy.

As someone who is “rhythmically challenged,” I found the game becoming very frustrating when I couldn’t figure out what exactly I’m supposed to do. The good news is that each level has a basic tutorial to help you understand how to correctly follow the rhythm, but the bad news is you can still be scratching your head as to the timing and duration of your taps and flicks of the stylus. On some levels the game is pretty unforgiving if you’re slightly off, even just a little bit.

Presentation: The game uses very simple graphics, which is not a bad thing. In fact, one level is simply a white background where the characters are hand drawn black lines (see top screenshot for example).

Levels are weird and goofy, in a good way, and that same craziness is incorporated really well in how the game indicates if you’re playing correctly or not. For example, when you are in a group and perform badly, the other members all turn toward you with angry expressions on their face. It’s quite funny.

Replayability: The game has a surprising amount of content. In addition to the standard levels, you can progress in the game to unlock harder versions of the same levels. Also, getting perfects can net you some unlockables, though some of the unlockable content seems pretty mundane (like the business card), and you won’t spend a whole lot of time playing with these ‘toys.’ The game does show some mercy and allows you to occasionally skip levels that you have failed at multiple times.

Though the levels are fairly short (couple of minutes or less), you will spend most of your time just trying to get the song down, meaning you are likely to fail many times.

Bottom line: This game will be a hit-or-miss depending on whether you’re rhythmically inclined or not, or how much you like the rhythm genre. If you’re into quirky, simple-to-play yet difficult-to-finish, touch-based games which contain catchy music, then you will probably enjoy this game.

A perfect showcase of the game's crazy yet loveable nature, and its use of the tap controls.
Also one of my favorite levels.

A Negative World review by
Eric Lopez

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 Great  8.8 / 10
01/28/11, 06:58   Edited:  06/10/13, 22:44
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I've been on the fence forever for this game, always waiting for a good deal (but those don't happen frequently on Nintendo games in Canada).

Watching that video, though... I don't think I'd last 1 minute! My brain cannot process exactly how someone is supposed to know when to tap to that.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 07:19
Actually, I wouldn't have checked this game out if it weren't for a discount at my local Target a while back.

That sucks about the Canada deals.

Oh, and I didn't mean to scare you off with that video . That level comes somewhere in the middle of the game, and I actually found it to be a relief from what I consider to be more challenging levels before it.

Wait, that may actually scare you even more...

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 07:25   Edited:  01/28/11, 07:26
This game was hit or miss for me. There were some levels that I loved, but some (the guitar levels) felt... off. I study music, and I found myself getting really frustrated at some of them haha.

The presentation is charming, though. The love potion is adorable haha. My girlfriend loves it.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 08:07
Fun game but I think it's one of those games that just would have been better with buttons. Too many times my timing was right but my touch screen controls weren't exactly precise. It led to many frustrating moments and I eventually just stopped playing it once I reached the tougher levels.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 08:10
I actually stopped playing at the tougher levels too, I got so close to the end. But I didn't think it was necessarily the touch controls that were hampering my progress, it seemed instead that I was just not 'getting' the timing down.

I agree though that some of the tougher levels probably aren't helped by the touch controls. Yet tapping the screen to the beat feels very natural when it does work.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 08:24
I loved the game for the most part, though there was one game type that I could never for the life of me do well. It had something to do with alternating between tapping on and off of the beat, which seemed so simple yet I failed so much at it.

EDIT: Aha, here we go:

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 08:28   Edited:  01/28/11, 08:33
I had a really hard time with lockstep also.

But I also found it interesting that choir conductors also make us beat the off-beat for practice, usually we keep getting behind the beat. Watching my little dude also makes me realize how awful my rhythm is. (I had problems with the shoot-the-aliens one too, and that's not even the off beat. Apparently I tend to rush) All this is really really sad, considering the number of years I've taken instrument lessons.

I liked Rhythm Heaven a lot. Not as much in the beginning, but more as it got more challenging. Originally I thought that it couldn't be hard to make a game like this, but now after playing Beat City (a clone) I realize the difficulty is in keeping the player's interest. RH's music variety helped a lot, it was a good idea to have TSUNKU.

I haven't gone back to Perfect everything, it's hard, and now that I don't play it every night I'm rusty again.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 09:35
Lock Step is pretty tough, especially if you aren't used to the concepts of upbeats and downbeats.

I really like Rhythm Heaven! I actually have extremely fond memories of the game since I got it right before traveling to Japan in 2009, so hearing of it now reminds me of that trip (and it's appropriate considering the nature of the game in the first place).

Also, MORE GAMES NEED SONGS WITH LYRICS! That Frog Hop one is my favorite, but I also really like the pop star one with the monkeys ("I suppose, yeah!") and several of the others. Munchy Monk is great, the Love Potion is great, and pretty much all the remixes have terrific music. The characters and scenarios are just fun and charming. The weird Love Lizards, that one with the stomping the vegetables, and of course, Glee Club.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 11:05
Best Buy has the game for $9.99, which is a great price for a great game. I paid full price for it two years ago and don't regret the purchase at all. Highly recommended.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 14:56

Thank you! This will compensate for the $48 ordering 999 from amazon.com ended up costing me.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 16:16
I really liked Rhythm Heaven. It hits that quirky and fun spot inside of me. Frog Hop is also one of my favourites, as is Lockstep - tough, I know a few people who just cannot get the rhythm for Lockstep, and it's funny

Oooh, reading the thread I see you guys are Lockstep noobs as well! Once you get it, you get it, but it takes a while. LOVE IT!

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 17:44
Hmm, I can't say I share your opinion, but maybe you'd enjoy Rhythm Tengoku on the GBA?

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 17:45
I still haven't opened the DS game. I have to finish Tengoku. I'm curious how the stylus input will work for me.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 20:09   Edited:  01/28/11, 20:09

Oh yeah, Lock Step was killer until I finally found the right rhythm to tap to.

Check this out...

Rhythm Heaven is one of my favorite games on the DS. I love it when game play and music is fused together so well, like in Bit. Trip Beat for another example.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 21:00   Edited:  01/28/11, 21:02
Love this game! Never had any trouble with the touch controls either.

It can get tough later on, but it's not too tough. Hmm. Then again I tend to catch on to rhythm games faster than most people.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 22:55
@Octorockin I actually saw that video on YouTube earlier this week, and added it to my favorites.

Lock Step on two DS's... simultaneously.

Posted by 
 on: 01/28/11, 23:13

Thanks to canonj, I just got this game for a mere 10 bucks! A better deal than my wildest hopes (I would have picked it up for $25 new).

I've just played up to the first remix and the thing that strikes me so far is just how catchy the music it. I'm really enjoying it. And the game has charm in spades. Really, really pleased with it after this 30 minutes I spent on it.

The games so far have been pretty lenient. I'm not looking forward to the brutal ones, though.

Posted by 
 on: 02/04/11, 06:05
You guys should import Rhythm Tengoku GBA!

Posted by 
 on: 02/04/11, 18:09
Very fun game. Had no trouble with the controls, it's just that the timing is SUPER ANAL. Guitar Hero and its ilk have complexity in the note charts, but Rhythm Heaven is far less forgiving in timing. The window for success is almost nothing.

I got a perfect rating on most of the songs...but it started getting really frustrating, so I had to stop. The second Maui one ruins me for some reason. And the extra bonus guitar songs also kill me, I don't know if I've even finished those.

Posted by 
 on: 02/05/11, 00:47   Edited:  02/05/11, 00:48
I've been playing this game and loving it (I've gotten Superbs on all the games so far), but LockStep is destroying me. There's a LockStep 2!?

EDIT: Just got an "OK" on it. Once you get the hang of it, it's ridiculously fun. I had to quit though, because I was playing so much that I started sucking again. I'll get that Superb...

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 00:56   Edited:  07/13/11, 02:23
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