Rhythm heavenThe Rhythm Paradise series isn't as well known in the west as it is in Japan, where it's called Rhythm Heaven, but it can loosely be thought of as a musical take on WarioWare. In the place of a series of short mini-games, each of its 50-odd stages is built around a song and a simple concept like kicking a ball or strumming an instrument. All are just a few minutes long and never take themselves too seriously, with most offering a great blend of catchy tunes, funny visuals and excellent controls.
Sometimes you need to mirror on screen characters' actions, other times you're required to react to music, prompted by sounds and pictures. It starts off fairly easy, but becomes increasingly complex as new beats and lyrics are introduced, and concepts get layered on top of one another. Simple cues like a man hitting golf balls thrown at him by monkeys become tougher to follow as the game cheekily attempts to trick you by obscuring your view, or by zooming the camera in and out.
On CueThe game delivers plenty of audio curveballs, meaning its toughest stages can require plenty of attempts to complete, but it's also very easy for anyone to pick up and play. There are loads of level tutorials and the game never punishes you by denying you access to content. Get your timing correct to complete a song and you'll unlock the next one, but fail a few times and the game will simply present you with the option of giving up and moving on to the next level.
Refreshingly, unlike most rhythm action games on Wii, Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise is largely free of unnecessary controller waggling. The vast majority of its levels are completed using only the A and B buttons, which you tap in time or grip together to perform certain actions. That's not to say that what's on offer is brainless entertainment, as the game's developers have found a massive number of uses for just a few buttons.
Pitch PerfectThe gameplay is so well tuned, and the original music so well constructed - from catchy pop numbers to electronica, rap and bossa nova - that at times you'll find yourself tapping along to the beat oblivious to the quirky mini-game concepts playing out on the screen. These include garden peas being flicked aggressively at you from a distance, high-fiving monkeys displaying the time on wristwatches, pigs spinning on chairs at a board meeting, and cats and dogs playing badminton in biplanes.
In the run up to the Wii U's release later this year, many developers have turned their attention to making games for Nintendo's new console, but some are still producing gems for the older one, and Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise is one such example. It's absolutely jam-packed with addictive content and bursting with imagination and laughs for all types of players, from kids and families to hardcore gamers who are obsessive completionists.
- Great rhythm-action for all types of players.
- Easy to play but hard to master.
- Loads of imagination and laughs.
- If you're not a music fan, this isn't for you.
- Feedback on your performances could be clearer.
- Taking turns in two-player mode isn't as fun as solo play.