I’m a huge fan of Rhythm Heaven games. If you’ve ever listened to the opening seconds of our incredible podcast, you’d understand. Rhythm Heaven Megamix is definitely a rarity. On one hand, it’s one of those games that you can almost judge exclusively by its cover. It’s simple, it’s beautiful, and it’s exceptionally well made. On the other hand, it’s curiously under appreciated. The jazzy series, created by the team behind the fantastic Warioware series, blends fast paced rhythm mini games with simple controls and boatloads of style. That may sound like a mixed bag; and I know mini game collections don’t exactly scream “content,” but give this thing a chance. You won’t regret doing so.
It might not have been the biggest surprise of E3 2016, but not only did Nintendo announce the newest entry into the Rhythm Heaven franchise, they released the game that very same day.
Released in Japan in 2015, I’ve been waiting for some time now for the game to hit these shores. Enough about that though, here’s what I think of Rhythm Heaven Megamix:
What is it?
At its core, Rhythm Heaven is a music game. A song plays, you press a button to the music, the score goes up.
You might be thinking, “Wow, this has already been done.” You’re right too… We’ve seen nearly every concept explored when it comes to music games: Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga, Elite Beat Agents. They’ve all come and made their mark on music games in some way. What Rhythm Heaven does differently is ditch what the others have in common.
On-screen button prompts.
I want you to watch this video. It’s important to my point.
What Guitar Hero (and other music games like it) does is make the games controls the focal point. Your focus is drawn to the flurry of commands needed to rack up points, and nothing else. What happens is a mentally stimulating, but visually dull experience. Sure you remember the songs, but you could listen to the songs anywhere and have the same experience.
Now, watch this video.
Gone are the sliding tracks of button commands. Rhythm Heaven trades in that extreme focused challenge for something equally important.
By getting rid of that visual smorgasbord, you’re left with a collection of humorous, meaningful scenes that are memorable, if nothing else. After a brief tutorial of what each game expects of you (completely skippable, of course) you’re thrown right in. You get to watch a Glee Club instructed by a conductor, a sweat covered wrestler conducting an interview in awe of fans, you can even play badminton from airplanes! Instead of numbers, you see stories. Arguably a much more interesting dynamic and definitely more memorable an experience.
3DS: It’s meant to be.
So far, I’ve given a blanket explanation of Rhythm Heaven as a series. Mostly because I REALLY want people to know what it is. What about this game specifically? Megamix is a compilation of the series best, packed into one collection, and stuffed on the best console of this generation. It takes all of the predecessors limitations and blows them into oblivion and makes the series feel at home. Didn’t like the GBA’s poor audio quality? This one sounds great! (especially with headphones) . Not a fan of the imprecise touch screen controls on the DS? Buttons are back, baby!. Love the Wii versions fabulous visuals but hate being stuck on the couch? Slam this in your pocket and hit the road! Portability and beauty! Seriously, this game It looks wonderful, especially with the 3D effect enabled. With the simple sprite based art style, the effect gives the illusion of a shadow box; the backgrounds fade fade into the horizon, while the characters and focus points are crisp and pop to your attention.
Also new to the series are some fantastic multiplayer options and challenge modes. You can play locally with friends, as well as go for perfect runs and complete random mini challenges to rack up coins. This gives the already hearty game some replayability.
There are a few bummer moments with this game though.
Unfortunately, the overlaying story isn’t the greatest. Infact, it’s pointless. All previous Rhythm Heaven games were satisfied with their individual scenes and mini games placed within a nice organized menu. Megamix tries to wrap them all together with a narrative that is forgettable and almost certain to be skipped through as quick as possible to get to the meat of the game. It’s a huge bummer and a waste of time.
What the crap, man!
Rhythm Heaven Megamix has a huge problem with taking classic aesthetics you remember from games past, and giving you a remixed version that sounds inferior. I was immediately bummed out when I first played my favorite mini games to find some of them had been turned upside down. Luckily, the late game stages included all the classic tunes I remembered from the past. They aren’t terrible and are fun to play regardless ; but still, why make me sit through garbage to get to the gold?
Overall, with its hefty package, low price tag ($30), and easy control scheme. Rhythm Heaven Megamix is an infinitely replayable music game will have you tapping your toes long after you’ve closed your 3DS’ lid.