Game: Rhythm Heaven Fever
Developer: Nintendo, TNX
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Release date: 2012
Is it really possible that the folks who make up Nintendo's SPD Group No.1 and TNX have been able to produce three Rhythm Heaven (aka Rhythm Tengoku) games in just six years? I don't pose that question because I've had enough of these titles; rather, I pose it because I can't believe they're so full of creative juices that they could create the 150 or so mini-games that have been crammed into each release. Are the ones that were made for Rhythm Heaven Fever--which returns the series to the Simon-esque, "press the A button (and sometimes the B button, too) to the beat" gameplay of the original--on par with those made for its predecessors? Yes, for the most part. As is often the case in such games, some are better and some are worse. The ones I consider to be the best--Air Rally, Double Date, Flipper-Flop, Flock Step, Launch Party and Samurai Slice--share a number of similarities: Charming and colorful graphics, a catchy-as-hell backing track and a sense of momentum that not only grabs the player's attention but also helps him or her quite literally feel the beat. Rhythm Heaven Fever's least appealing and successful mini-games, most of which look and even sound nearly as good as the mini-games I just mentioned, tend to fail when it comes that final bullet point. (I'm looking at you, especially, Love Rap--although Cheer Readers, Exhibition Match and Shrimp Shuffle are getting a bit of a side-eye from me, too.) Thankfully, the standouts outnumber the duds by quite a wide margin, and even the less-than-stellar mini-games tend to be enjoyable enough to keep you coming back for more. All that said, I don't consider this game to be the best point of entry into the Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku series. Although Rhythm Heaven Fever's graphics are both clean and cute, for instance, they lack the minimalist charisma that's present in pretty much every one of the first title's mini-games. Another thing keeping this iteration from reaching the heights of its precursors, in my eyes: It's far too lenient, not to mention inconsistent, when it comes to the rewarding of medals. So, I'd personally suggest starting with the import-only original, Rhythm Tengoku, or its cheap-as-sin, DS-based follow-up, Rhythm Heaven, before moving on to Fever if you want to get the most milage out of this toe- and finger-tapping trilogy. If you've already played one or both of those titles, though, by all means drop the $19.99 needed to pick up this one, too.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts