• Minna no Rhythm Tengoku Review Nintendo Wii

    Ever since its release almost five years ago, one of Nintendo's key aims for the Wii has been to remove the barriers that exist in modern games, making them more welcoming for those who wouldn't class themselves as gamers. One of their stated ways of doing this was to remove the multitude of buttons found on today's controllers, simplifying command inputs. With the release of Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (translated as Everyone's Rhythm Heaven), they have again proved that this is something that is entirely possible.



    Requiring only two buttons A and B and only ever requiring pressing A alone or A and B simultaneously, Rhythm Tengoku on Wii is a return to the button-only inputs of the series' debut on Gameboy Advance, ignoring the use of the stylus for Rhythm Tengoku Gold on DS. In other words, there is no waggle or motion control to be found anywhere.



    The Rhythm Tengoku games (known as Rhythm Heaven outside Japan) are by their nature rhythm action games, but instead of a focus on full-length songs they favour WarioWare-style mini-games of sorts with less of an emphasis on the music and more on rhythm and beat. Whilst they may initially seem simple and easy to play, once the rhythm changes and more complex patterns emerge, the game becomes significantly more challenging. Take, for example, the first stage that the player will encounter a monkey throws golf balls which must be hit on time by the on-screen avatar by pressing A. Starting off at a fairly steady beat, things get tougher once more than one ball is introduced and another monkey starts throwing separate balls which need to be hit using A and B together. The vast majority of the stages are memorable and fun. They work in such a way that not only is the music featured in each catchy, but successfully pressing buttons to keep up with the rhythm feels extremely satisfying and something that means players will find themselves wanting to come back to stages they have completed multiple times just to experience them one more time. Those with prior experience of the series will see some familiar characters throughout the game, but there is also plenty of new content to keep things feeling fresh.

    This is the way the game tackles the issue of difficulty, although it has to be said that anyone with a good sense of rhythm should be able to make their way through most of the game without much trouble only the tone-deaf need not apply. Additionally, once four stages have been completed, a remix option becomes unlocked. This separate stage takes the four that came previously and mixes them together, meaning that the player must have a good grasp of what has come before and also be prepared for chopping and changing between songs and rhythm in order to complete it.



    Score and perfecting a particular song is something that will be familiar to veterans of the rhythm-action genre, whether the game is Guitar Hero and Rock Band or Beatmania and Pop' n Music. Minna no Rhythm Tengoku is no different completing a stage with no mistakes or just a couple will result in a pass and a gold medal. More than a couple of mistakes will be a pass without a medal and a total disaster will see the player fail outright and have to attempt the song again in order to unlock further stages and progress. Passing each stage and earning a medal will also unlock bonus content. This ranges from simple things such as a car which is pulled back by holding down buttons and released with the goal of getting it to stop at a certain point to mini-games that increase in speed as they go on to even songs from the original Rhythm Tengoku. Although very much side features of the game, they provide a nice change of pace, especially if the player has been getting frustrated with the standard stages. Adding more depth is a perfection challenge that will appear on previously completed songs from time to time. This tasks the player with clearing a song with no mistakes and will award a gold P medal as reward. Having a screenfull of these is a great way of showing off a mastery of the game and will take a lot of time and retrying.

    A two-player mode rounds out the gameplay options and allows two players to play together in order to pass stages, complete with separate medals and bonus mini-games.



    The music itself is generally to a high standard with catchy beats and noises. Vocal stages are the highlight though and players who complete the initial seven remixes will find themselves with some new stages with fantastic music after the credits have rolled. The bonus remixes also offer a significant step up in challenge as they include not just the four previous stages, but others from throughout the game. The presentation complements the music perfectly as well, all bright colours and cute, attractive character designs, be they humans, monkeys, seals or pigs. It's the sort of game that, although it may occasionally frustrate due to continued failure, will almost certainly have the player coming back time after time and leave them with a smile on their face. The Wii has been suffering from quite a software drought so far this year but Minna no Rhythm Tengoku provides the perfect excuse to dust off the console, turn up the music and play along to the beat.


    Pros:

    -Easy to pick up, difficult to master gameplay.
    -Beautiful, colourful visuals.
    -Some incredibly catchy songs.

    Cons:

    -Short stages that may put off some players.
    -Those without a good sense of rhythm may feel frustration.
    -It has to end.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Golgo's Avatar
      Golgo -
      Sounds wonderful, esp. return to button-only input of the superb GBA version. Given relative success of DS version, hopefully a half decent chance of PAL release?!
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