Rhythm Heaven Fever
Rhythm Heaven is a Nintendo series that’s particularly easy to take a quick look at and immediately declare a franchise that would only appeal to a Japanese audience. With cute, colorful, and sometimes bizarre character and level designs, it almost seems like a series that Nintendo wouldn’t bother bringing to Western shores. In fact, the first game in the series, Rhythm Tengoku, was exclusively available in Japan.
Most accurately described as a WarioWare-style game with heavy emphasis on rhythm and music, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a minigame collection in which you must accomplish a set of specific goals in time with music that is being played in the background. While many games treat music as a secondary feature behind prominent visuals, Rhythm Heaven Fever has an inverse relationship. As a matter of fact, the visuals seem to exist for the sole purpose of distracting you, when in reality each minigame can be more easily completed by closing your eyes and listening for audio cues.
Departing from traditional Nintendo idiosyncrasies, Rhythm Heaven Fever doesn’t rely on the inclusion of any recognizable or established mascots – instead choosing to introduce brand new characters in almost every individual minigame. Believe it or not, you won’t find a hint of Mario or Link in Rhythm Heaven Fever, although you will briefly become acquainted with characters such as ‘The Wandering Samurai’, ‘Wrestler’, and ‘Employee #333-4-591032′.
The actual gameplay of Rhythm Heaven Fever consists of only two possible button presses – A or A and B together. While this may seem incredibly simple, it’s a deceitful form of simplicity. The actual complexity of Rhythm Heaven Fever comes from how each individual minigame utilizes these two buttons, and how timing and beat will change in an attempt to throw you off. It’s true that you’ll only ever be pressing up to two buttons at any point during the game, but those two buttons can be associated with a wide range of actions such as kicking a football, shooting a rocket into space, mimicking rap lyrics, or posing for a photo opportunity.
Within Rhythm Heaven Fever you will find over 50 minigames, all of which are shockingly distinctive and last anywhere from 1 to 4 minutes. When you first start, you’ll have access to only one single minigame that you must complete before moving on to the next. Once you finish four minigames in a row, a special fifth ‘remix’ level will unlock that takes the four previous games and compiles them into a single song. Upon the completion of a ‘remix’, you start the cycle again.
Before you start each game, an interactive tutorial will play which teaches you the specific rules of that individual scenario. Depending on the minigame, this tutorial will cover topics such as which buttons to press, at what frequency, and which audio cues to keep an ear open for. You can choose to skip these informative introductions, although you’ll be at a considerable disadvantage.
Outside the main game of Rhythm Heaven Fever, there are a variety of additional activities to engage in. One such activity is the local two-player mode, which mostly just takes existing minigames from the single-player and adds a second controller to the mix. While the games themselves may not change much in their transition from single-player to multiplayer, having the opportunity to play with friends or family is enough to drastically alter your mindset while playing them – to the point that they almost become different games entirely. At the conclusion of each minigame, you’re presented with a score based on each player’s performance, giving this mode a small competitive aspect.
Additionally, by achieving a superb or perfect score in minigames, you will sometimes unlock bonuses that serve as minor distractions for when you get frustrated. One type of unlockable, which is arguably the most interesting, is a group of small ‘endless’ games that mostly consist of you repeating the same action in an attempt to beat the high score. Alternatively, music and stories can be unlocked periodically by taking advantage of ‘perfect’ opportunities when they become available. Unfortunately, the majority of these bonuses aren’t particularly engaging, and more often than not simply aren’t worth the time and effort that is required to unlock them.
Rhythm Heaven Fever may initially seem like a game that no one outside of Japan would appreciate, but in reality it’s an astonishingly polished game that transcends the cultural barrier quite effectively. With beautiful visuals, decidedly catchy music, and legitimately fun gameplay, you’ll almost certainly find yourself replaying minigames multiple times after you’ve already completed them. If you still have a Wii console kicking around and are looking for a new game to pump some life into it, Rhythm Heaven Fever might as well be a mandatory purchase. At a starting price of only $29.99, you would be foolish not to at least consider it.
What You’ll Like:
- Catchy music and great looking artwork.
- You’ll want to keep playing individual minigames multiple times, either because they’re legitimately enjoyable or to achieve a perfect run.
- Two-player mode is accessible enough so that anyone can pick up a second controller.
What You Might Not Like:
- If you don’t have a sense of rhythm, you may go insane trying to grasp a few specific minigames.
- Unlockable bonuses aren’t worthwhile for the effort required to access them.
- Retrying failed minigames requires that you back out to the selection screen and reload the tutorial before being able to skip it.
Final Verdict: 5 out of 5