Game Review – Rhythm Heaven Megamix

Short Version: All the Rhythm Heaven games have always been good, and this newest installment is no exception. Regardless of the excessive amount of recycled mini games and a couple of strange and unnecessary changes, this is a must-buy for anyone looking for a good rhythm game on the go, especially with it’s quirky writing and accessible control scheme.

Long Version: I remember a while back when my brother imported a Japanese copy of the original Rhythm Heaven on Game Boy Advance, and falling in love with the whole franchise ever since. The quirky writing, along with the enchanting art style and deceptively simple controls made for an experience that literally anyone could get into. These are thoughts that still prevail to this day in this newest installment for 3DS, which brings back most of the old mini games, but also introduces some new ones that fit right in with all the others. For the people that don’t know what I’m talking about, let me give you a small refresher course.

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Let’s We Go, Amigo!

Rhythm Heaven is a series of rhythm games that have been released on most Nintendo platforms since the GameBoy Advance. All of the games consist of a collection of really short and simple mini games where you have to press one or two buttons to the beat of the music during a variety of different situations. Many people will tend to make comparisons to Wario Ware, but aside from the art style, it really is nothing like it at all, since it has a much less hectic pace and more catchy melodies involved, rather than Wario Ware‘s micro games that last about as long as a Vine loop and don’t involve music at all.

Basically, that’s all you need to know. When talking about Megamix specifically, you will see an actual story be implemented for the first time, rather than in the previous games that directly take you to the games, with perhaps some fun and brief lore as a small extra. You meet up with a small, pink afro-wearing character named Tibby, who has fallen down from Heaven World. To be able to climb back to the sky, you’ll need to visit a variety of different areas, towers and characters and give them their flow back. How do you do that? Well, by completing rhythm-based mini games, of course!

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Go With The Flow

As mentioned before, all the rhythm games will be short and sweet, but chalk full of charm. From translating an alien’s speech, air boarding, catching fruit and clapping with cats to catching coins in the air and karate punching objects to the rhythm, all the games feel totally different and creative, but still very cohesive. Even though they are all different, they all feel like they belong in the same world, which further proves how good the art direction is. On top of all the bright colors and uplifting atmosphere, there are also a solid amount of characters to meet, all with their own weird puns and jokes that only Rhythm Heaven can come up with, such as a man who’s in love with donuts, talking dogs that own cafes and monkeys; monkeys…everywhere.

Whenever you’re not going insane over the absurd amount of monkeys in this game, you are also gaining coins for every mini game you beat, which you can then use on challenges that are forced upon you early on. You have to pay more money for easy versions of a challenge, while harder ones are less expensive. I really hope you guys are good at these challenges, because if you can’t beat them and run out of money, you have no choice but to go back to older mini games and make back the coins you need to try again, which I find it to be more of a nuisance that completely breaks the flow (no pun intended) of the game rather than something fun to do. I believe these challenges were better served as one of those Endless Games that you can play on the side, rather than mandatory things that stifle your progress.

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Challenge Land

A great example comes from my personal experience, where I was having a particularly hard time in a challenge where I needed to stop a karate chop from falling on my head and ended up running out of coins. Since this is pretty far into the game, I had to make back a pretty big amount of coins just to try it one more time and fail at it again. Because of this, I got fed up and stopped playing the game for a good long while. Any time I would pick the game back up, I remembered the thing I got stuck on, and the annoying, unlikeable guards that host it, to which then I turned the game off again to go play something else. Eventually I did get past that point, but it was a total hassle and a pointless waste of time to do so, turning all the fun mini games into busy work to collect more coins. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing that got on my nerves after a while.

Eventually, the game will make announcements saying that you can attempt to make a perfect run of a certain mini game in the challenge room. You can only do these things a couple of times before the challenge closes and you have to wait until another mini game is available. What really gets my pixelated, turnip-eating goat about this is that the game doesn’t make it easy for you to play these special challenges in a way that makes sense. If you have played a mini game perfectly before, without actually accepting the challenge, it doesn’t count. You don’t receive any rewards for that, which I find completely and utterly ridiculous. The game asks you to be perfect, but only in this specific, arbitrary time where it wants you to be perfect. This is made even more infuriating when you realize that these perfect runs, among a couple of other things, is the only way to get Flow Balls, which you can then use to buy more mini games. All of these mini games happen to be all of my personal favorites from previous games, but I can’t buy them, because I have to wait until the game grants me permission to be perfect at a random game, which usually ends up being a game that I either hate, am really bad at, or both.

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Git Gud…When I Tell You To

Even if I was competent at them, I only get about two or three tries before the challenge disappears and I have to sit on my butt again, waiting for the game to grant me permission to be good at the rhythm games I’ve already played a million times before. Considering how this game is very friendly and light hearted, this is a very suffocating, almost oppressive part of the game that I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone thought it was a good idea. No matter where I’m at, if I play a mini game perfectly, I should get the proper rewards at that moment, not whenever the game feels like giving it to me. I think about how the challenges are executed, and I don’t feel welcome; it makes me not want to play.

One last thing. Even though I love the mini games from previous installations, I hate that the grand majority are recycled mini games from the past, while there’s a tiny amount of games that are actually new. Not only are these new mini games different from the old ones, but also more creative and interesting. It doesn’t seem to me that the developers have run out of ideas, and I don’t mind seeing older games, but I’m still wondering why there couldn’t be a more fair balance of old and new stuff. Even the old mini games keep their original songs and melodies, which make it even more ridiculous. If I was making this game and had to use the same mini games, the least I would’ve done is create new songs or environments for them, rather than copy pasting literally exactly the same game onto the 3DS. Even during the second half of the game, you come across more difficult versions of those same games, so it’s a recycle of a recycle. I know this game is called Megamix, and that it isn’t out of the ordinary to see repeats in Rhythm Heaven, but come on, I know they can put a bigger effort into these things.

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Superb! You’ve Won A Medal!

At this point, it seems that I’m really hating on the game, but my feelings are quite the contrary. I thoroughly enjoyed this game and fully delivered on what I expected, but that also doesn’t mean that I don’t have a laundry list of problems with it. There were a lot of very strange and unnecessary changes made to this game, when I feel that all of that effort could’ve been used on changing other things or creating brand new mini games, rather than reusing the majority of the old ones and locking off many others to a busted and irritating challenge system.

Whenever you are not facing those problems, it is still a Rhythm Heaven game through and through. I would not say that this is the best game in the series (that award belongs to the DS one), but I enjoyed it about as much as all the others, with its typical quirky writing, fun games and overall bright and inviting feel throughout. If you are already a Rhythm Heaven fan, then you don’t need me to tell you to go get this game. However, if this is your first exposure to the series, there is no better place to start than here, since it has a little bit of everything for everyone.