VG Tribune

Review: Rhythm Heaven Fever

February 12, 2012 / 1:57 AM

By: Roger DiLuigi III

Rhythm Heaven Fever, the third installment in Nintendo’s distinctly Japanese Rhythm Heaven series is finally hitting North American shores. The franchise’s music, presentation level and sense of humor have always been top notch but do these tropes carry over into the series’ Wii entry? The short answer is, unquestionably, yes.

Rhythm Heaven Fever is a music game that is really unlike anything else on the market. Players must participate in a variety of rhythm based mini-games and, while listening to the background music that accompanies them and watching for small visual cues, press a specific button in time with the music and cues of the game. Players will be asked to do everything from giving an anxious reporter an interview to cheering on a student in a library, all in time with the music that accompanies the task’s stage. The designers focused on quick-fire rhythm-based situations with the hope that you will gain a greater sense of rhythm through playing.

Gameplay in Rhythm Heaven Fever consists of only two buttons of the Wii Remote, A and B. Occasionally, players will have to press both at the same time to perform in-game actions and some of the rhythm games only require you to stay with the beat of the music by pressing A. The names of the game are simplicity and precision. Follow the cues and you’ll do fine, lose the beat and it’s game over. Each of Rhythm Heaven Fever‘s 50+ rhythm mini-games are extremely unique and the game’s songs will definitely stick in your head long after you turn off your console. And, while the concept of pressing a button to the beat (or off-beat) of a song may seem like a simple task at first, the difficulty soon ramps up and by the first “Remix” mini-game where a song uses four or more of the mini-games you’ve already learned and throws them in a constantly shifting environment, you’ll be exhausted. The games are extremely addictive too; expect to sink a lot more time into them than you initially expected.

There’s quite a bit to do after the credits roll too. On top of upgraded, more difficult versions of many of the mini-games, Rhythm Toys, Endless Games and remakes of some of the classic Game Boy AdvanceRhythm Tengoku challenges unlock after you’ve collected a certain number of medals from earning Superb and Perfect scores in the main mini-games. The incentive is definitely there to keep playing long after you’ve completed all of the mini-games the first time around, especially since many of these unlockable games turned out to be some of my favorite parts of the game.

The localization work in Rhythm Heaven Fever is also superb. Having listened to the Japanese versions of the Love Rap and Ringside challenges prior to playing the game, I was very curious as to how they were going to translate “Hontou” and the gibberish “Piku piku piku desuka” in those songs. The results, “Fo’ sho'” and “Wubadubadub, is that true?”, definitely fit within the context of their songs and, in many cases, the localized songs sound more natural than the original Japanese.

One problem I do have with Rhythm Heaven Fever is the multiplayer. While it’s nice to have the option to play with another person, the multiplayer option is only available for 10 of the game’s 50+ challenges. Worse, the multiplayer is only for two people. Many of the rhythm games like Micro-Row and Cheer Readers could have easily been adjusted for up to four players and the lack of online support in the available games also hinders the experience slightly. Honestly, I played each of the multiplayer games for review and then never came back to them. In fact, I found in my experiences with my roommates that the game is for fun with multiple people if you simply switch off on each of the single player games to see who can get a better grade.

The grading system implemented in Rhythm Heaven Fever is also pretty strange. There’s no real rubric for grading performances in the mini games save for a few comments at the end of each song and the difference between an OK and a Superb can sometimes be a single dropped beat. This is especially frustrating in the longer songs when you are trying to achieve a Superb score in order to earn an in-game medal and a single missed button press right at the every end costs you your grade. I’m sure that there’s a method to the grading madness but I’d definitely appreciate it if there was a clear rubric next time around.

Aside from those two gripes, Rhythm Heaven Fever is an unforgettable experience. The music is brilliant and will stick in your head for days (I’ve already made the game’s 7th Remix my new ringtone) and the entire game oozes with a quirky charm that will enchant people of any age. The Rhythm Heaven series has always been one of my favorites from Nintendo and this latest installment on Wii definitely stands up to the high pedigree of the franchise. Whether you are a hardened musician or someone who lacks rhythm entirely, Rhythm Heaven Fever is an experience that should not be missed. And, at an MSRP of $30, there’s absolutely no excuse to not pick this one up.

VGTribune gives Rhythm Heaven Fever a 9.0/10

This review was based on a copy of the game given to us by Nintendo.

Rhythm Heaven Fever

9

Final Thoughts

9.0/10

About the author /


Roger is probably best known throughout the “interwebs” as the man behind TopHatProfessor in the Professor Layton Twitter viral marketing campaign. Roger is a Chicago-based actor and Theatre/English graduate at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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