December 15, 2022
One of my fondest gaming memories is playing through Rhythm Paradise on the DS with my partner at the very start of our relationship. We connected over the silly rhythmic antics, and that series will always hold a place in my heart. By making a whole bunch of rhythm mini games a truly unique series was born, and unfortunately it’s been a while since we saw an entry in it. Fellow fans will be happy to hear that Melatonin provides a similar experience though, in a glorious pastel package.
Every night our pink hoodie wearing protagonist dreams of different things. After falling asleep on the first night with a phone in their hand they dream of social media followers and takeaway food, whereas an evening chugging energy drink sees them collapsing into a stress based nightmare. Each night brings with it four rhythm mini game dreams, and you’ll need to get eight stars from them to make your way to the next night.
The games are really creative. An early one sees flying pizza boxes firing slices into your mouth to the music, and you’ll have to hit the A button at the right time to open your gob and chomp them. Another sees your character jumping from giant smartphone to giant smartphone as their YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers rise into the thousands. Each mini game has different rules and cues to follow, but once they click you’ll be in rhythm heaven.
You aren’t just thrown in the deep end though, there’s a handy tutorial to play before each of them. This features a handy timer that shows you exactly when to hit the buttons, and can be replayed as much as possible. Once you think you’re ready though you can jump into the real thing and earn some precious stars.
These games might sound simple, but coupled with the awesome (often rather laid back) soundtrack the mini games are just magic. They get harder as you progress further through Melatonin too, with the addition of the shoulder buttons and holding down buttons to the tune too. Later games where you have to copy the rhythm of a muscular version of our protagonist lifting dumbbells or hit baseballs back through portals require a lot of practice and perfect rhythm, so don’t expect to cruise through the nights with ease.
The difficulty is probably the aspect of Melatonin I struggled with the most. The window to hit a perfect beat is incredibly tight (or at least it felt that way to me) and you’ll need to hit almost every one perfectly to get two stars on a level let alone three. There’s the option in the settings to give yourself some more wiggle room, but I found that made it a little too easy. It’s a really hard balance to strike, and I unfortunately think Melatonin just doesn’t quite manage it compared to its peers.
Even if you do have to jump into the accessibility settings, it’s worth seeing Melatonin through to get to the incredible remix levels. Just like in the Rhythm Paradise games these take the levels you’ve already played and blend them with each other to create a mash up of musical goodness. Combined with a banging tune these stages are absolutely the highlight of the game, mixing up all the best rhythmic bits to create a whole lot of fun.
It’s easy to focus on the musical elements of Melatonin, but a special mention should be made to the visuals too. The pastel colour palette is absolutely gorgeous, and the art style packs a whole lot of charm into every single dream mini game.
Outside of some difficulty issues, the only other problem I had with Melatonin was how quickly it was over. With only four nights to make it through, you’ll have seen everything the game has to offer in a couple of hours. There’s harder difficulties for each night, a level editor for the most dedicated dreamers and high scores to chase, but really I just wanted some more weird dreams to experience.
Melatonin is a lovely rhythm game that will delight anyone who has been waiting impatiently for more Rhythm Paradise. It can be a little punishing with the timing and ends quicker than I’d have liked, but for a few hours I was more than happy to let its pleasant tunes and colourful world wash over me.
Fantastic rhythm gameplay
Perfect for Rhythm Heaven fans
A gorgeous aesthetic
The timing is a bit too punishing
Is over very quickly
Melatonin is the perfect tonic for those end of year blues, with lovely rhythm gameplay and a gorgeous aesthetic.