Game: Rhythm Tengoku The Best Plus
Developer: Nintendo SPD
Release date: 2015
Despite the fact that a lot of people consider video games to be synonymous with "fun," amusement sadly doesn’t seem to be the aim of a whole lot of the cartridges and discs that find their way onto physical and virtual store shelves these days.
Which helps explain why I've found the grin-inducing Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus to be so refreshing thus far—even though a good portion of its content is recycled from earlier entries in this vaunted series of rhythm games.
I’m not sure why my reaction to The Best Plus surprised me, I’ve got to admit. After all, I’ve adored every Rhythm Tengoku title the folks that make up Nintendo’s SPD department have spit out to this point—which includes the GBA original from 2006, 2009’s Gold and 2012’s Fever (known as Minna no Rhythm Tengoku in Japan).
I guess I just assumed that this latest iteration’s status as a “best of” release would make it less enjoyable than its predecessors. Thankfully, after putting more than 13 hours into it (and getting all the way to its credit roll) so far, I can say without hesitation that this is far from the case and that The Best Plus is just as likely to put a smile on your face as those earlier titles.
That’s partially due to the all-new mini-games that are on offer here (with "Te Te Te Pan Pan," or "Neko Clap," being the best of the bunch), but it’s also due to the fact that this iteration does things differently than the ones that came before it.
Granted, some folks—long-time fans of the series, especially—aren’t as fond as I am of the some of the changes introduced in Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus. The main culprits: the surprisingly text-heavy story that holds everything together this time around, the older mini-games that kick things off and feature songs that have been re-worked in mostly unappealing ways, and the many hours of play that have to be put in before you can access the first of the series’ vaunted “remixes.”
Although I can see where they're coming from with their complaints, I personally like that this release's developers had the balls to take some liberties with the series' heretofore tried-and-true formula.
It helps, of course, that after The Best Plus' somewhat slow start, everything progresses at a nice, increasingly enjoyable clip. That's especially true after a bunch of old favorites show up to the festivities (with the exception of "The Bon Odori"--harrumph) and a slew of fabulous remixes do the same.
Also helping matters is that controls in The Best Plus are as simple and straightforward as those that can be found in the GBA original. In other words, all you're asked to do is press a single button (two, on rare occasions) in time with the music that's on hand. There's no swiping of DS' touchscreen or pinching of the Wii remote's A and B buttons, as was the case with Gold and Fever, respectively--news that's sure to please a lot of the Rhythm Tengoku lovers who weren't big fans of those entries.
Admittedly, I found myself kind of missing the aforementioned touchscreen swipes while playing through some of the updated iterations of Gold's mini-games that are on offer here, but it wasn't enough of a bummer for me to considering downgrading this "review" as a result.
Speaking of which, if you've played the first Rhythm Tengoku or Fever on the Wii and got a kick out of those experiences, you'll probably react similarly to this one. Or, if you played Gold and hated it because it forced you to use your DS' stylus, you'll likely find yourself a lot less grumpy this time around.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who fall into one or both of those camps won't be able to see if my predictions are spot-on or off the mark unless Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus is released in their particular locale (thanks to Nintendo's idiotic decision to region-lock the 3DS hardware), so here's hoping Australian, European, North American and other localizations are announced--and sooner rather than later.
See also: previous 'Great Gaymathon' reviews