Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise
I don’t know why Europe needed a more bombastic title for this game, but arguably we lucked out in getting both the North American and European soundtracks so who’s complaining?
The Japanese made music-rhythm games what they are today and this is a pretty challenging one. At first glance it looks like it would be quite easy: press one (sometimes two) buttons in time to some on-screen action complete with a corresponding animation to indicate two grades of success or one of failure. Rhythm is the key however and though the visuals are lovely, they can throw you off as success means being in time with the audio; not the video.
A training mode will help test your sense of rhythm and bears going through the first time you play as it gives you a good idea of what to expect. There’s a raft of mini-games on offer with some pretty catchy tunes and cute animations. Completing each series of four followed by a mash-up of all of them will unlock the next grouping and they get even harder from there. If you’re feeling a bit defeated you can take a break with a virtual barista in a virtual cafe which also allows you to check out some “audio toys” and other unlockable treats before jumping back into the fray.
The presentation is high quality, as we’ve come to expect from Nintendo, and I recommend it for fans of the genre without reservation. I wouldn’t suggest it for young kids as it’s pretty unforgiving and is likely to just leave them frustrated, but my daughter enjoyed watching me struggle with it all the same!
Horizon Riders (WiiWare)
Sabarasa are no strangers to the Nintendo download scene, having cut their teeth on the DSi with cute puzzler “Save the Turtles.” This time they’re taking us to the arcade, circa 1988, with a polygonal rails shooter on the Wii.
The story sees some funky-looking space mercenaries getting a job to trash an alien AI defence system gone amuck, but this game isn’t story-driven so let’s move on. You choose your merc and then jump straight into the action on your hover-board, space sled – whatever, shooting everything in sight and racking up points through a series of stages punctuated by the occasional boss fight.
At first it just seems like a lacklustre Space Harrier wannabe, with slower pacing and less challenge, but after the first boss fight things definitely improve and pretty soon you’re struggling to keep up with the baddies. What Sabarasa have done within the limited memory footprint on WiiWare is pretty impressive and fans of games like Space Harrier won’t be disappointed.
It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciated the challenge and I definitely rate it over Space Harrier: the proper 3D polygonal presentation is less confusing and the control is a lot tighter. I didn’t try out the optional Balance Board controls, but I expect they put you into the game a bit more since your avatar is riding a similar contraption. I’d like to have seen more variety in the visuals and enemy design, but I expect that’s more down to the limitation of what’s possible with WiiWare.
Ultimately I think this is a game which would have benefited from retuning as a Wii U eShop title (using the Gamepad to snipe at enemies to the sides and rear would be a nice touch), but for a WiiWare title it’s not bad.