Clap Your Hands to the Beat! – Rhythm Heaven Fever Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Do you have feet that won’t stop tapping and hands that can’t stop clapping? Is the beat too strong to steer you wrong? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then I may have a game for you! Rhythm Heaven Fever is the latest title in the Rhythm Heaven series, promising plenty of music-driven gameplay for the beat-chasing Wii player among your family and friends.
Rhythm Heaven Fever is made up of several short scenarios, which task players with various challenges to complete – on beat. These can range from hitting golf balls, to playing tambourines, and even stopping a spinning office chair. Each little event has an accompanying music track to help players keep their rhythm. To play, all you need to do is press either the Wii-mote’s A button, or both A and B simultaneously, at the correct time. Subtle audio or visual cues are present to help players know which buttons to use, and when to press them.
Sounds simple right? Well, that’s where one might be wrong. RHF demands that a player’s timing be perfect, with each button press right on the beat. Any less than that and the player will not complete their action, and if enough actions are missed, the level must be repeated. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but the game acts almost like it’s broken, due to an invisible learning curve.
Upon creating an in-game profile, players will undergo a quick rhythm test, which contains a graph that will show just how on or off the beat you are. Being a musician I like to think my timing is at least average, yet I personally bombed the test and failed the very first (and simplest) level over and over again. Thinking that maybe I was just having a bad day I asked some family members to give it a try, all of whom had the same results: failure. After many retries though, all of us were finally able to at least finish the level, and continue playing with minimal problems. While rhythm may literally be the name of the game, some leniency in difficulty would have helped new players (or those with less-than-average timing skills) get into the title with a little less frustration.
However, when you’re able to get on the beat RHF turns into a very fun and enjoyable game. Each level has its own feel and genre, ranging from upbeat rock riffs to laidback tropical themes. All of which are well composed little songs, sure to get stuck in a player’s head. For those attempting a track for the first time, short tutorials are available at the start, to teach you when to use each button combination, or simply for practice. While only sporting two buttons, the gameplay is varied enough to keep a fresh feel from level to level, and is sure to draw players in for long play periods.
The events that players undertake are very cute and cheerful, delivered in an adorable (and sometimes silly) cartoon-like package; showing off things like monkeys playing tambourines, frog-like men bouncing on see-saws, and assembly lines constructing little robot people. These provide an aesthetically pleasing picture for players to get their groove on to. While the title doesn’t utilize super-powerful graphics, the hand-drawn visuals meld perfectly with the simplicity of the game’s controls.
As you complete levels you’ll eventually come across a “remix”. These mash-ups feature bits and pieces of previous songs brought together in a single music genre, with no practice round to warm you up. Players must keep their wits about them in these boss battles and use what they’ve learned thus far to pass these milestones, giving a nice sense of closure and accomplishment when defeated.
If your beat-keeping skills are up to scratch, then you may score high enough to win a medal for that track. Gain enough of these awards and you’ll automatically unlock special toys and various “endless” mini-games. The toys are objects that players can interact with, each with its own goal to achieve. For example, with the toy car, you need to pull it back just the right distance to have it stop in a specific place.
The “endless” mini-games task a player with one simple action to repeat constantly, with the tempo increasing in set intervals; stopping only when you fail. When you do finally miss a beat your score is recorded, with the highest all-time score being shown off for everyone to see. As with your standard level these challenges have a little animation to expand the gameplay, such as a small character jumping over a metronome needle. These mini-games and toys give RHF a bit of replay-ability and promote competition between gamers, but with less than a handful of either available they feel like a quick and easy tack-on, to try and squeeze a few extra hours out of the game and may be overlooked by many players.
On occasion, players will be prompted to re-do a completed challenge and go for a perfect score. If you can get through it without making a single mistake, then you will receive a special reward in the form of a book or audio track. These can be viewed in the Café, the place to go when your fingers are starting to get tired. Here, you can also talk to the Barista for gameplay tips and idle chit chat, or re-do the initial rhythm test.
Have two players and can’t decide who should go first? Well, you’re in luck, as there is an unlockable two player mode. You and a friend/family member/loved one can grab some space on the couch and mash out some funky beats together. The co-op levels are based on those found in single player, just with small twists. You’ll either be playing your rhythms in sync or taking turns back and forth, depending on what the song requires. When it’s finished, you each get a score based on how well you did, and your combined score and synchronization will determine if you passed, and if you get a medal. The inclusion of this mode gives RHF good potential as a party game, and solo players can use two Wii-motes at once to give themselves an extra challenge.
When the drums stop playing and the beat fades away, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a fantastic little music game that is sure to win the hearts of young and old alike. While it may prove to be quite difficult at first, with a few tacked-on mini-games, it’s still a great title for the rhythm lover in your family. Grab your Wii-motes and get ready to tap along to the beat!
Final Score: 4.25 / 5.0 and a tambourine playing monkey!
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