GAME NAME: Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise
RELEASE DATE(S): September
“Beat the Beat is awesome!”
“Beat the Beat is awesome!”
“Beat the Beat is so much fun!”
These are the words our faithful editor Steve Wright received in the days following him giving me my review copy of Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise. In recent days and on the most recent episode of our podcast, Steve has come out to admit that he felt bad for me having to review this game. He thought it would be a dud. And I too have a confession. I totally agreed with him. From the cartoony cover art to the proclamation of “50+ mini-games” this was a game that smacked of epic shovelware in the dying days of the Wii.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Beat the Beat is indeed awesome. In my review of Sound Shapes I said; “If you’re not grinning like a complete fool the entire time you’re playing Sound Shapes, you’re doing it wrong”. The same applies for Beat the Beat except somehow even more so. On more than one occasion, I had to pause the game and stop playing from laughing so hard. It’s simply full of charm, personality and brimming with fun.
Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise is the third in the series and the first to be released on console with the previous games being released on Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. Gameplay follows the established conventions of the franchise of keeping the beat with the music, however instead of swipes and flicks of the stylus like the Nintendo DS version, on Wii you simply need to press either A, B or both together. They are literally the only controls in the game and are all you need. No superfluous waggle here, thank you very much.
The game gets you diving in almost immediately and after a quick test of your rhythm skills you’re off and running tackling mini game after mini game. Now I say mini-game, but essentially every mini game is a different animation coupled with music and has you pressing one or a combination of the buttons to a beat. This may sound like it could get mighty repetitive, but the charm of the animation, the intense catchiness of the music and the pure thrill you get from successfully keeping the beat, keeps the game from getting stale.
The very first game you play sees you trying to score a “hole-in-one”. However instead of simply hitting the ball at the right moment in the song a monkey throws the ball at you. Every time he throws it to you, you count and then hit the A button. If you time it right you get a hole-in-one, if not you miss. Simple enough right? Well then, halfway through the game a baboon decides he wants to join in on the fun and he begins tossing balls to you as well. He’s much bigger and stronger than the monkey so he is on a completely different beat. And it’s here that the delightfully simple complexity of Beat the Beat reveals itself. Combining the monkey and the baboon’s tossing of golf balls creates a dynamic beat the fits perfectly with the music and challenges you to stay in sync.
Each and every mini game begins similarly, with a simple beat to keep track of, but as they progress they introduce two and sometimes three different elements. Nailing a particularly difficult mini-game, fills you with such a sense of accomplishment that you want to shout your success from the rooftops. An impressive feat for the game, considering you may have been pressing only one button the entire time.
There are groups of five levels to complete with a total of 50 in all. 10 of these are mash-ups of the previous four levels, the prior levels serving as a sort of training for the final challenge. Each mini game is different from the last including the previously mentioned hole-in-one challenge, a game of badminton between a cat and a dog piloting bi-planes, a game of see-saw, a robot manufacturing plant or an inflatable toy boxer. I promise, not one of these is made up. Accompanying the main mini games are a collection of rhythm toys (micro games based on counting the beat), endless mode and multiplayer. These modes are unlocked by collecting medals in the main game and here is where a few chinks appear in Beat the Beat’s armor.
You gain medals by attaining a “Superb” rank in the mini game levels. A simple enough concept. Perform well enough and earn the rank. However, the ranking seems to be wildly inconsistent from one game to the next. One game I could swear I did perfectly and would only get an “OK” rank and the next I would do woefully and would be awarded “Superb”. I’m not sure what the exact issue is but it’s extremely frustrating when going for the medals to not be able to accurately gauge your progress.
The addition of multiplayer is welcome, but its implementation is weak at best. 10 of the mini games available in single player can be played by two people (with no online support) with slight variations to make them accommodating to another player. The mode is great fun with a friend, but grows old quickly due to the limited number of games. It would have been nice to see some online support too, but at this point in the Wii’s life I can see why it was omitted.
Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise is a gem of a game, great for a party or even solo. I guess the lesson here is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” because I almost did and would have missed out on a truly fun and addictive Wii experience. It goes to show too that even at this point in its life, the Wii can still surprise us. Any game that you have to pause because it’s making you laugh too hard to play properly is worth a look in my opinion.