Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise Review
Game: Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise
Developer: Nintendo SPD Group No.1
Available on: Nintendo Wii
Dust off your Wii and buy Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise. 10/10.
Oh, I suppose you want me to actually write about the game? Very well, but you do realise that I am late for a mid-air, plane-based badminton match with a humming cat?
The third in the Rhythm Tengoku/Heaven/Paradise series, Beat the Beat is only the second game to hit Western shores (after the brilliant DS Rhythm Heaven/Paradise). Its premise is simple, and its execution is even simpler; perform an action in time to the beat. The previous DS game relied on swiping and tapping the touch screen, but this Wii version just requires you to either tap the A button, or both the A & B buttons at the same time.
That’s it. You don’t need to worry about hitting specific notes as per Guitar Hero and other games of it’s ilk, which you think would make for a rather dull game; but you would be incredibly wrong, as Beat the Beat is anything but dull. You see, these games are created by the minds behind another cult Nintendo series, Warioware, and those minds are insane. Really insane.
That level of crazy is Beat the Beat’s greatest strength. Tapping a rhythm using the A button doesn’t sound fun, but once you’re tapping the A button in time to a wristwatch made of tiny high-fiving monkeys, while an incredibly infectious tune is playing; you’ve just experienced one of the most joyful experiences you can ever have with a videogame.
There are ten sets of five levels (four normal stages, plus a “Remix” level, a challenging mix of the four normal stages with different music and tempo). Each level begins with a detailed (and always humourous) tutorial, setting the scene for the insane scenario you are about to take part in, while also explaining what actions you are required to perform.
However, Beat the Beat’s simplistic nature masks a tough game that requires absolute rhythm perfection. There is little room for error in terms of hitting buttons in time, and even less room for error when it comes to actually passing a level. There are three ranks for finishing a level; Try Again, OK and Superb. You need an OK or Superb to get to the next stage, but some levels are pretty tough and you will see a lot of Try Agains. If you find yourself struggling to finish a level, a quick chat to a canine Barista in the game’s Cafe section will allow you to skip the level, but in doing so you really are cheating yourself from the sense of achievement from finishing a particularly tough stage. Plus, a lot of the levels teach you the skills you need to get further into the game.
The great thing about Beat the Beat is that with enough perseverence, you really feel your sense of rhythm improving. As someone who dabbles with music every now and then, I’m no stranger to being able to tap rhythms, but this game really does help improve your own skills. You’ll face time signature and tempo changes mid-song, and your skills are constantly tested with each new song. For real perfectionists out there, a perfect (or almost) performance will give you a Superb ranking, and a medal accompanying it. These medals unlock other things, such as fun little “rhythm toys” that are a nice little bonus (although nothing that will keep you as enthralled as the main game).
Early on, you also unlock a 2-player mode; new to the series. This enables you to play a select few levels with a partner. Unfortunately these are similar levels to the single-player equivalents, but it’s a short but fun co-op experience. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more co-op levels, or original ones, but it’s clear the the focus is on the single player game.
While the 50+ stages are on the short side, a great deal of time can be spent trying to get medals on each stage, and even more time can be spent trying to get a “Perfect” on each level, which unlocks even more goodies (Which I’m still trying to do on the DS version, several years later). It’s the sort of game that can be enjoyed in small chunks, or for hours on end (as my girlfriend and I proved on the day my review copy arrived).
I’ve already mentioned how wacky this game is, and that is in no small part, down to the beautiful 2D artwork seen throughout the game. As we all know, the Wii doesn’t output to a HD resolution, but it really doesn’t matter because the game’s graphics are big, bold and have so much character that they still look brilliant. Character designs range from the excruciatingly cute, to absolutely hilarious; it has to be seen to be believed.
Then there’s the matter of the game’s audio, which is superb. There are no licenced tracks here, just an enormous batch of catchy beats and infectious pop melodies that you will enjoy no matter what your musical tastes are. Although the tracks aren’t quite as memorable as the previous Rhythm Paradise DS, you will be singing these songs for the next few months; I guarantee it. Plus, for the European release, Nintendo have kindly added the entire Japanese voiced soundtrack as well (selectable from the File Select menu), which will please those fans who require a more authentic experience.
There is only one small criticism from me, which is to do with the game’s scoring. The game’s strictness when it comes to passing a level can be annoying to some players, as it’s not always clear what you are doing wrong. You could do really well and make only a few mistakes, but still fail and not know why. It’s a small issue that I never felt spoiled my enjoyment of the game and if anything, it really encouraged me to improve my skills.
VERDICT: I already told you to buy this game, so bloody do it! Beat the Beat blurs the lines between casual simplicity and core challenge. It is accessible by all types of players, but it will take sheer practice and perseverance to master it. If this is the last major first party release for the Wii (barring the upcoming Kirby Collection), I couldn’t think of a better sendoff for the console. Magnificent in its execution, hilarious in its presentation, a must buy for all Wii owners, and one of the most smile-inducing games I’ve played this generation.