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Import Impressions: Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (Wii)

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“This is twice as fun as how completely unsafe it looks.”

Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (meaning Everyone’s Rhythm Heaven) is the most recent entry and first console edition of Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven series. Like its predecessors, the game is composed of a number of music-driven rhythm games with simple controls. I became an immediate fan after trying out the DS game released in 2009, and was downright ecstatic when Nintendo announced a follow up for the Wii.

I was also concerned, however, since being Wii software likely entitled it to have motion gestures, and big oafs like myself can be pretty uncoordinated. Could this game have been spoiled before it even came out? (Quick spoiler: no.)

Fortunately, as I found out at E3, Minna no Rhythm Tengoku does not use any motion gestures when playing the games. In fact, this installment has the simplest control scheme yet: you either press A or A+B. That’s it; two commands, a single button press or a double button pinch. The result is a game that combines the button pressing input of the original Game Boy Advance Rhythm Tengoku (which was not released in the west), and the greater variety and refinement of the DS Rhythm Heaven.

Virtually nothing has changed from the DS game aside from the content itself. Songs are presented in tiers of five, and you must clear each song to move onto the next one, either achieving a result of high level or good enough. If you do too poorly you must try again. The fifth song in each tier is a “remix”; a special song that throws together the tier’s four previous games. Beating the remix opens the next tier of games.

Every game starts with a tutorial, which is really mandatory to understand what you need to do (which I only mention since some people here tried playing Rhythm Heaven skipping the tutorials). It all comes down to getting into the rhythm and timing with whatever action you’re performing. Some actions would be nigh impossible to do based on sight alone, such as stabbing peas with a fork as they’re flicked at you, or shooting a peg between two washers as they roll past each other. But when you get into the rhythm, it becomes so simple you can do it with your eyes closed.

“Master the rhythm, or you’ll be drowning in robot tears.”

What really makes the game work is the amount of polish and charm it’s loaded with. Many of the songs are incredibly catchy despite having no branded tunes from the well known music games like Guitar Hero. It’s often not just the song that makes the experience, but also the theme of the game itself. Games include a boy on a playground date who must kick away intruding balls, a monkey riding on a watch’s second hand that high fives other monkeys he passes by, and a wrestler answering interview questions and posing for the camera. It may seem goofy, but you really have to experience it for yourself; the games have a knack for making you smile, even if you do terribly.

Aside from clearing the main songs, of which there are fifty, the Minna no Rhythm Tengoku also has a variety of rhythm toys and endless games you can unlock with medals, which are earned by getting a high level score in each game. On top of that, later on you can unlock a few of the games from the original GBA Rhythm Tengoku. Lastly, for the first time in the series there is a two player mode you can unlock. This presents two player versions of some of the songs from the main game. These games are scored based on how well each player does, plus bonus points for good synchronization.

Now above I mentioned that, despite being a Wii game, Minna no Rhythm Tengoku has no rhythm gestures. This is only sort of true. While it is true that you don’t need to do anything motion related to play the games, it’s very practical to dance around or somehow keep a beat when you play the games. I can’t help but feel the designers considered this in choosing the Wii as the platforms, because it works a lot better than having to hold a handheld system up to your face.

As of this review’s publishing, Nintendo has not announced a release for Minna no Rhythm Tengoku in North America or Europe, although they have consistently shopped it around at events. This game really benefits from some careful localization, since some of the games are very Japanese themed, and have spoken Japanese prompts. A few songs even have full singing. I really do hope Nintendo gives this the same attention to detail and strong marketing the DS game got, which was nothing short of great.

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2 Responses to “Import Impressions: Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (Wii)”

  1. August 18th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Jesse Gregory says:

    And once again the wrestler interview song will engrave itself into my memory.

  2. February 29th, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Barrel Roll #152 – “Adamantium Anniversary” - WingDamage.com says:

    [...] This week, Jonah is joined by Jesse and Wesley (Wes to his enemies) for discussions of Mass Effect 3, Binary Domain and the monkey high-five simulator, Rhythm Heaven Fever. [...]

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