A little bit Elite Beat Agents, a little bit Professor Layton, and a good sense of originality and you’ve got Sega’s new 3DS title Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure. Unfortunately I’ve missed out on Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy so far (though I will purchase that bad boy soon), bu thankfully this second 3DS exclusive rhythm game has kept my attention these past few days. Here’s what Rhythm Thief has going for it so far…
– The first that caught my eye about Rhythm Thief was the game’s animation. Characters looksimple but the backgrounds and locales are astounding.You get to walk around present-day Paris and from my own experience touring the city of love, they did a good job recreating some famous locales. The variance from screen to screen is what really stands out though: nothing is reused in different areas and each location looks and feels original.
– The gameplay isn’t what I was expecting. I thought it would be all “Tap along with the rhythm” and “Keep the beat with the conductor” or something along those lines. In actuality Rhythm Thief uses a variety of gameplay methods that all incorporate music and keeping the beat. Some examples include fending off bad guys by punching them in the face to the beat, jumping from rooftops to avoid the police while keeping the beat, and kicking a soccer ball back and forth … while… keeping the beat. Alright, so I guess they all revolve around staying in rhythm, but it’s in the name of the damn game. What’d you expect?
– The grand mystery you’re trying to solve is intriguing and helps string together a plot for why you’re even solving these rhythm based puzzles in the first place. Apparently, Napoleon Bonaparte’s casket was stolen, the Frenchman has awakened from the dead, your missing dad has turned up randomly, and a strange symbol appearing on several important artifacts was somehow missed by historians and are now your leads to solving everything. It’s not going to win any awards, but I always commend a
puzzle rhythm game capable of weaving a worthwhile story into the framework.
– Exploring Paris, looking for clues on where to go next, is fun. Much like moving around in the Professor Layton games, you explore one screen of an area at a time, interacting with objects and people on screen. I’m a fan of Professor Layton and Luke’s adventures, so seeing the game’s navigation lifted from that series is fine by me.
– The sound. The music playing while walking around Paris, the tunes that accompany the action of each rhythm game, and the voices of each character are fantastic. If there was one department Rhythm Thief had to deliver it would be the sound department, if only because it’s a music-based game. I haven’t come across anything as memorable as, say, Parappa the Rapper’s Chop Chop Master Onion’s teachings, but there was a game modeled directly after Samba De Amigo.
– The grading/judgment system is extremely unforgiving.So basically each minigame you come across will judge your accuracy and timing of your input: Perfect is the best, Great is a bit off, Good is even worse, and Harsh means you missed completely.As you hit notes in sync with the beat, a meter at the top of the screen will fill, also giving you a higher and higher grade (I’ve yet to get all perfects on a game, but I believe the highest grade is an A). The problem comes when you miss a note. A huge chunk of your grade gauge is removed, and since this is the ultimate deciding factor on how well you pass a level, one or two mistakes can literally spell the difference between an A and a D. I got all perfects, 3 greats, and 3 harsh ratings on a stage and just scraped by passing with a C.
– Much like Professor Layton‘s hint coins, there are hidden coins scattered about Paris that you can uncover by tapping on the touch screen. Coins are usually hidden in areas that stand out, like a strange looking lamp post, or the top of one of Notre Dame’s spires. There are also hidden music CDs to find, scrap papers to collect to form a hidden message, and a plethora of sounds to record to use to create the “master instrument.” What this all amounts to is a hell of a lot of haphazard tapping on the screen. Each new location has me tapping madly on every inch of the screen to find each secret. I’m fine with the game doing this (having things hidden) but no one is going to just tap odd looking structures. They’re all going to poke the shit out of every last inch of the screen. It’s not a flaw of the game, just a flaw in game design. Implementing a penalty system or something might be a good fix (although I’m sure that’ll just make lots of people mad).
– There are these riddles that you have to “solve” every now and then in order to advance the story. These riddles are dumb. They are simple tasks like stopping a lock on the right numbers or plucking a guitar string in the proper order. These are an attempt to give the game more variety, but they are so pointless they just come as a waste of time. Instead of these portions of gameplay, they should have just made more rhythm based games. Having to input a safe’s code even though your character already has the combination in his hand is silly.
– The pacing is a little bit too slow for my tastes. Each chapter has followed this formula so far: get a clue about Napoleon or some treasure, travel through Paris getting to your location, do two or three rhythm games, and you’re done. While that’s not a bad scenario per se, it’s not good when you really only get five to ten good minutes of actual gameplay within a chapter, the other roughly 20 minutes are all just dialogue and moving around. For a game named Rhythm Thief, I was expecting more music games.