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Nintendo certainly has wasted no effort promoting their April 2009 release Rhythm Heaven, a musically themed minigame collection in the spirit of the WarioWare titles. It has been the primary game featured along the promotion of the new Nintendo DSi unit, and the television commercials for Rhythm Heaven feature the uber-popular, multiple Grammy Award winner Beyonce. After playing the game, though, I have to wonder if promoting it so heavily is really such a great idea.
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Graphics and Sound
Obviously, considering that this is a game with a strong emphasis on music, the quality of the soundtrack is top notch. It's quirky, and it'll definitely leave you with a smile on your face. In terms of graphics, Rhythm Heaven definitely takes its cues from the WarioWare series, with colorful and cartoony-style characters that may not be fancy or high-res, but are nonetheless pleasing to the eye. All in all, this is a solid effort, though nothing too spectacular.
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For the most part, Rhythm Heaven is stylus controlled, though the shoulder buttons are used briefly. While holding your DS or DSi sideways, you alternately slide the stylus across the screen, make a flicking motion, tap it for various minigames, and hold it against the screen at varying times. The controls are fairly easy to pick up, but the different game levels themselves are another matter.
I'm not particularly musically inclined, so I'm not sure if that makes much of a difference, but I found Rhythm Heaven to be quite difficult. It was often a real struggle for me to just squeak through each level with an "OK" rating on a level. Considering that you must score high enough on one game to unlock the next, I often found myself getting frustrated. It can be cute and fun at times, but the reality of Rhythm Heaven is a far cry from the relaxation and giggles pitched to the unwitting gamer in the Beyonce commercial--or such was the case in my experience, at least.
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I thought that Rhythm Heaven would be the next great pick-up-and-play title for the Nintendo DS, but after several hours of frustration and slow-as-molasses progress, that clearly isn't the case. Some of the games are enjoyable--particularly the Glee Club one, where you need to hold your stylus against the touch screen to keep your little singer's mouth shut, then remove it when it's time for him to sing his part. Unfortunately, if your experience is anything like mine, you'll have to replay each game countless times to make any headway, which definitely kills the charm. Rent Rhythm Heaven if you're curious, but don't spend the $34.99 to buy it unless you enjoy extremely challenging games or are some kind of musical savant. I reckon that most gamers will burn out and tire of this game long before the end.