The first in the Rhythm Heaven franchise to see a launch in North America happened for the Nintendo DS back in April of 2009. It was, truly, unlike any other game on the American market.
Perhaps the only series comparable to Rhythm Heaven is WarioWare. WarioWare is all about wacky mini-games based in a zany art style. Sometimes those games are rhythmic in nature, and other times they are based entirely on some other mechanic (like scraping something away, picking a nose or parking a car).
Rhythm Heaven features that similar art style, except its host of mini-games are solely built around music and rhythm. For instance, with Rythm Heaven Fever, you’ll go on a double-date with groundhogs and defend them from incoming sports balls by kicking them away to a specific beat.
Note: According to the release that accompanied our review copy of the game (and my tired memory), none of the mini-games here in Fever are repeats from the Nintendo DS version.
Each level will be won and lost with timing and a combination of pressing either A or A+B at once. Yep, that’s it. The DS version included some awkward sliding controls, but it’s great that Nintendo kept motion entirely away from this game. You’ll be given a tutorial before playing for real (which you can skip at any time), you’ll do your best with the level and then either pass with a Superb or OK score or you’ll fail.
The levels themselves range in difficulty and humor dramatically. Sometimes levels are funny but dead easy, other times levels are boring but exceptionally hard. Especially tough for me were the levels that featured rhythm changes and offbeat hits.
In general, though, most of the 50 levels are a great blend of fun, funny and challenging. There are actually times when your laughter will force you to lose, which, honestly, is awesome.
When looking at the overall value of this game, it’s important to consider its suggested retail price: $29.99. For $30, this game makes sense. There are more than 50 mini-games here to digest and several two-player variations. You’ll get your money’s worth if your either a franchise fan or someone who hosts a lot of game-playing company.
The two-player game modes are brand new to the States. In Japanese arcades, you’ll actually find Rhythm Heaven titles with two-player functionality. They are everywhere and have seen several series releases. Rhythm Heaven Fever introduces the mode to American players. Essentially, you’ll be given the same types of mini-games as before, except they’ll be twisted up to work on a cooperative level. Player one will start a beat sometimes while player two will be tasked to finish it. At the end of each game, players’ scores will add up and a bonus score will be awarded based on how in-sync each player is.
The multiplayer is competitive in only that you’ll be able to see which player earned the most points for each game. No one wins or loses individually, but you’ll certainly know who held their own and who didn’t.
However, and this is an odd thing to note as a complaint, the multiplayer mini-games require you to play through a good chunk of the single player mode in order to unlock them. So, you’ll need to spend a good helping of time working through the rhythm challenges to build a worthy party game here. Completing multiplayer games won’t unlock more multiplyaer games; instead, you’ll need to earn them first in single player in order to even reach them in multiplayer. This isn’t a party game out of the box, which, given the console its on and the style of its mechanics, is disappointing.
If you’re excited to play this title in solo-only conditions for a while, then it’s a no-brainer. At $30, you’ll get a ton of playing time out of every mini-game this thing offers. Plus, you’ll constantly be encouraged to go for more medals and score Perfects on certain levels. Doing those things unlocks an odd collection of Rhythm Toys, music and artwork.
Rhythm Heaven Fever is a great potential addition to any Wii owner’s catalogue. At $30, it’s a well valued game. Be ready to work to unlock content for multiplayer fun and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting here.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline was sent a review copy of Rhythm Heaven Fever nearly two weeks before the game’s release. We spent several days playing the single player arm of the experience and unlocking mini-games. We had a few nights of two-player madness before starting the review.