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Found 51 results

  1. Leah

    Review: Groove Heaven

    Developer: FUN UNIT inc. Publisher: Teyon Platform: 3DS eShop Release Date: May 23, 2013 ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older A download code was provided by the publisher for this review. I love rhythm games. I also love the fact that there seems to be a resurgence of them lately. However, with all the good that we“ve seen, there“s also the bad. I went into Groove Heaven with high hopes of it being a great game considering its unique concept as a rhythm title and its very cute art style. Boy, was I wrong. Groove Heaven starts out as an adorable and amusing love story. Basically, the Devil lord wants our little demon protagonist, Rhymi, to deliver a love letter to a beautiful angel in Heaven. Heaven is all the way at the top of the tower, and it“s up to you to help Rhymi groove through every floor. Unfortunately, the ending isn“t worth it at all. Well, except for the fact that it“s finally the end of the game and you can stop playing now. The gameplay and design has a lot of potential. You must direct Rhymi through levels by tapping the “move†and “turn†buttons on the bottom screen. At the same time, you must masterfully time yourself in order to avoid enemies and collect roses and pink notes. Unfortunately, the concept was executed very poorly in Groove Heaven, resulting in frustrating and tedious playthroughs. Sure, it“s easy enough in the first ten levels or so. Then the game starts getting ruthlessly unfair. Evil cats that will chase you down to the ends of the earth (and they“re way too fast). Unpredictable angels that thirst for your blood. Disappearing platforms with almost impossible timing. The worst part is that if you“ve started running out of lives, then you“re going to be instakilled each time an enemy gets you or when you fall down a hole. Have fun grinding for pink notes in earlier levels to stock up on more lives. Okay, maybe the music is good. It“s a rhythm game, so it has to be! Sorry to burst your bubble, but it“s just as annoying and repetitive as the rest of the game. As there are only three themed areas (one for every 10 levels), there are only three songs being played while you“re scaling the tower. They get really old fast. There“s not much to do once you“ve gone through all 30 levels of Groove Heaven (which should only take you about an hour or two). You can go back and collect all the roses, but nothing special happens after you do. There“s also a Timed mode. With no online leaderboards or anything for Timed mode, though, you probably won“t even touch it – especially after already having played through the Story mode. I think Groove Heaven“s only redeeming feature is its art style. It“s very cute with its chibi characters and bright colors that pop. I also really like Rhymi“s character design – she reminds me of a tiny, little Etna from the Disgaea series. As for the 3D effect, they“re nothing special (as is to be expected from this simple 2D style). So, that“s Groove Heaven. A rhythm game that had so much potential, but was brought down by way too many factors. It“s hard to recommend Groove Heaven, but if you are in real need of a new rhythm game and have $4 to waste, then go for it. Pros: + Cute, bold art style + Cheap price Cons: - Unique concept marred by too many negative factors - Amount of music is very small - Incredibly unfair in later levels Overall Score: 3 (out of 10) Poor Groove Heaven looks to be a promising rhythm game, but it“s actually quite the opposite. Don“t bother with it unless you“re a hardcore rhythm fan.
  2. Well, this sure is proof that good things do happen if you let your voice be heard! Thanks to the overwhelming support to the possible Hatsune Miku: Project Dive F localization on Sega's Facebook page, the PS3 game will be making its way to North America and Europe. Sega says that "in less than 3 days, the post received over 25,000 likes and 15,000 shares." Aaron Webber, Associate Brand Manager for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F, exclaims, "Your voices helped make this happen.†Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F will release in North America on PlayStation 3 and via digital download on PSN, and in Europe via digital download on PSN. Both regions will be getting it sometime this August. For those eager to get their Hatsune Miku on right now, a demo will be available on June 11th for the U.S. and June 12th for Europe.
  3. Leah

    Groove Heaven - 3

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Teyon

  4. Leah

    Groove Heaven - 2

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Teyon

  5. Leah

    Groove Heaven - 1

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Teyon

  6. Leah

    Review: HarmoKnight

    Developer: GAME FREAK inc. Publisher: Nintendo Platform: 3DS (eShop) Release Date: March 28, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review Who ever thought Game Freak would jump onto the rhythm game train? The Pokémon developers rarely deviate from their moneymaking franchise, but everyone needs a change of pace sometimes! The result is HarmoKnight, a cute and fun-looking rhythm platformer. Is HarmoKnight full of the usual brilliance and polish we“re used to seeing in Pokémon, though? How does it stack up as a rhythm game? As mentioned previously, HarmoKnight is a rhythm platformer where you automatically run through levels and jump and attack to the beat (a la BIT.TRIP RUNNER). You play as the young hero, Tempo, who must save the musical planet of Melodia from the loud and evil Noizoids. You also wield a powerful and legendary note that“s used to attack. There are also Simon Says-type levels (think Space Channel 5) and portions where you can play as two other characters. That“s the basic gist of things in HarmoKnight; everything is kept pretty simple! But does simple mean that HarmoKnight is easy? You“d think so, especially with how cute and colorful it appears to be. It“s the exact opposite, though. HarmoKnight is surprisingly difficult and can be frustrating at times. The game is very picky and demands that you be very precise when it comes to timing your hits and jumps. There are also plenty of unfair moments where you can instantly die if you fall down a hole or are hit by a boss“s last attack, despite having a full life bar. You may have some moments where you“ll want to throw your 3DS at a wall, but the main game can be manageable if you“re well-versed in rhythm games. That is, until you reach the bonus world. You thought the rest of HarmoKnight was difficult? The stages in the bonus world are trials of everything you have faced in your journey. They are the most challenging in the entire game. So, be warned; these trials are not for the faint of heart (I still can“t beat the last one!). Enough about how hard HarmoKnight is. Is it any fun? Sure, the game is pretty solid and it“s enjoyable. It“s a nice fix for those that are hungry for a rhythm game. It“s difficult to say that it“s well-polished, though. The music isn“t very memorable or catchy (which is odd, considering Pokemon“s music is always fantastic). HarmoKnight is also pretty short and doesn“t offer much when it comes to making itself stand out from other rhythm games. The two other playable characters, Lyra and Tyko/Cymbi, have fun segments, but they have very little screen time, unfortunately. It isn“t as bad as I“m making it out to be, though, I promise! The 50+ levels you can play are also playable in a faster, harder mode (if you wanted even more of a challenge). And the best part of the game… stages with Pokémon remixes! I only wish that there was more (future DLC, maybe?). It“s a shame, though, that HarmoKnight doesn“t meet high expectations. It“s a nice little rhythm game and I very much enjoyed my time with it, but I don“t think it“s worth the $15 price tag ($10 would seem more appropriate). It“s also very hard to recommend to those unfamiliar with rhythm games. Game Freak has put out a great effort, though, and I hope to see more non-Pokémon games from them in the future. Pros: + The gameplay and stages are entertaining and challenging + Bonus stages where you can play to Pokémon remixes Cons: - Might be too hard for those not familiar with the rhythm genre - Music isn“t very memorable Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent HarmoKnight doesn“t live up to expectations and many may find it overly difficult, but it“s still a worthy experience for those looking for another rhythm game.
  7. Leah

    HarmoKnight - Battling a Boss

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Nintendo

  8. Marcus Estrada

    BIT.TRIP Runner2 Rushing to PSN

    If you hadn't heard, BIT.TRIP Runner2: Legend of Rhythm Alien came out this week on Steam, Wii U, and XBLA. It was also noted as coming to PSN, although not just yet. The PlayStation Blog has posted news of the game and let us know when it's coming, as well as what to expect. First off, this is developer Gaijin Games' maiden voyage with Sony. Still, with the game being a new take on the series, it shouldn't strike Sony-specific players as an out of place game. Strangely, Runner2 is not making use of Cross-Buy. Choose wisely when selecting either the PS3 or Vita version! As far as has been detailed, there are no functionality differences between the two. Runner2 is set to arrive on March 5th at the cost of $15. However, PS Plus members can knock 20% off the price, bringing it down to $12. Here's a video if you need to check the game out:
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Rez Special Package Box

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  10. Rock Band Blitz hit the gaming world last year to critical praise. The Harmonix-developed rhythm game looked to be another take from the blueprints of Frequency until it was actually played. Once you got your hands on a controller (no more plastic guitars!) and gave it a go, it was easy to see the differences. The biggest change is the addition of social features which connect players to their Facebook. Though this gate, gamers can tackle challenges or attempt to best their friend“s scores. It“s certainly an intriguing feature, but is it the sign of a shift? Your main goal in Rock Band Blitz is to get the highest scores possible on songs. Although the game itself only comes with a handful of songs, most players have probably accumulated lots of Rock Band Network DLC. No matter what song you play though the goal is always the same. You are meant to score major points on a song and skyrocket to the top of the high score charts. There“s nothing at all wrong with this, as it feels very arcade-like, but its implementation is odd. In order to get the maximum points possible you“re going to want to use power ups. Unfortunately, these power ups can only be purchased (per track) via coins. Coins might at first sound like a scary free-to-play scheme. Thankfully this is not the case - you gain coins through beating songs. This is one of the first strange design choices for the game. Why must you purchase these power ups on a song by song basis? Why isn“t just unlocking them enough? There would have still been strategy involved in selecting only a certain set of power ups on each track without having to pay for them each and every time. Grinding doesn“t seem to jive with the Rock Band universe. What do you get for maxing your scores? The whole point seems focused around competing against your Facebook friends. While there is nothing wrong with this on its own, it seems strange how the game basically is just a hub to that world. It doesn“t offer nearly as much competition between you and your “gaming” specific friends on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Strangely, when you play a song it does pit you against “someone”. Unfortunately this someone isn“t even a real person but always the same set of fake players (named after Rock Band characters). Why, if the game is so competition-focused, do you not get to see how you fare against any other real player? At least there is a high score list to view after each song. Not your traditional rhythm game Now, what if you totally love the Facebook connectivity? That“s perfectly fine as it certainly is a new way to interface with the game. This leads into another strange choice by Harmonix - why aren“t there difficulty settings? Instead of giving you the option to play a game on an easy or other difficulty level like most other rhythm games out there, you are simply given one difficulty. I“m not aware of how Harmonix managed to port almost all the RBN library into the game but it must not be too hard to convert tracks. If that is the case it should have been easy enough to list all difficulties for each song instead of selecting one to use forever. It seems that Harmonix wanted to make a game that“s hugely accessible to the Facebook crowd. Aside from the complexity of how to best amplify your score, the game is designed to be quite simple. Having one difficulty setting is an example of that, as it keeps players contained to one exact note chart for each song eternally. The same can also be said for how the game does not grade, or rate you down for awful performances much. In games like Frequency and Amplitude you would fail out of a track if you couldn“t keep up. Here, you can play the song no matter what and still manage to score some points. There is little depth to the gameplay to make it truly rewarding. It feels great to trump a friend and brag to them about it online, but what reason is there to keep playing beyond that? You can hammer through annoying charts with the crummy default controls (or switch to superior “Freakish”) but it only does so much. In Harmonix“s earlier games you felt compelled to play as the lanes would stop playing their specified instrument if you weren“t taking care of them. You would get more than scores, you would get a sense of accomplishment for completing stages. Instead of two buttons per lane there were three, and that allowed for a fair bit more creativity than pressing the left and right ones a million times. Harmonix has definitely created a game worth playing but it may not be for the traditional rhythm game crowd. Rock Band Blitz easily ushered in Rock Band fans who had put their dusty guitars away but how long will they stay involved? It is a new way to play the songs you already bought - but is it a fun way? Again, there“s nothing wrong with making a fully arcade-like experience where you compete for scores. This is something that some enjoy and there“s no reason they shouldn“t. However, if other rhythm and music games take this path it may take away from what rhythm games have always had going for them. Rhythm games are fun. They increase in difficulty from easy to hard and you might struggle through them for hours, but eventually you“ll be able to master them. That feeling of becoming skillful at hitting buttons, strumming, or dancing is a simple pleasure that music games have been able to provide since their inception. Rock Band Blitz is strong when it comes to online bragging, but falls short of providing a whole experience. Many will disagree, but no matter how it looks, Rock Band Blitz isn“t your typical rhythm game. It is something else which hits close, but in fact may change the whole understanding about what players like from their music games.
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Orgarhythm

    Developer: Nielo/AQUIRE Corp. Publisher: XSEED Games Platform: PSN (Vita) Release Date: October 23, 2012 ESRB: E10+ Have you become tired by the world of music games which, until recently, has been creating lots of similar titles? It“s fun to use plastic guitars or dance mats to hit buttons at the right time but after awhile you begin to wonder if there are other ways that music games can be created. We“ve seen some creative rhythm games coming out lately and it seems that another has just shown up for the Vita. Orgarhythm is about as strange as its name, but also a neat little experience. The name Orgarhythm does little to explain what the game is about, so let“s give that a shot. In it, you play as the God of Light who is hoping to take down the God of Darkness, his own brother. In order to do this, you must work your way through level after level with troops of warriors ready to do your bidding. How does this manage to become a rhythm game? Well, it“s all due to the way that the troops are controlled. To issue orders to your team, you must go through a series of screen touches. First, you will be required to touch the God, which means it is time to start issuing instructions. Then, hit the marker for which troops you wish to command. There are three colors, each of which has its own benefit or problem facing against other colors. After selecting the proper group, it is then time to choose what you want them to be doing. They can be sent off to simply engage in close combat, use arrows, or do other special features like lob giant boulders. Finally, you draw a line to designate where the characters should head to engage in battle. At the start, this whole method of gameplay is kind of confusing. It“s not particularly hard to recognize that the three troops' strengths/weaknesses play out like rock, paper, scissors, but that doesn“t mean you“ll be prepared. This is due to the fact that you are purely commanding troops. The God of Light himself is always walking along a set path, which means you must be ready to fight continuously and without much time to stop and think. Thankfully, the buttons you must touch on screen always remain in the same spots so you will never end up scrambling to find them. One other thing that makes battles hard at the start is that the game hinges leveling up on how well you are able to hit buttons along with the beat. Each level has its own music playing, and you are meant to carry out commands by pressing as the beat hits. It isn“t particularly hard in theory, but when you“re stressing out about a new wave of enemies coming close, you may find yourself screwing up a fair bit. This takes some time to get used to, but eventually it manages to become second nature. Once it is, you“ll be able to reap all the benefits of perfectly-timed presses with more troop level ups. Of course, if you“re missing hits a lot, then troops will level down. Although Orgarhythm isn“t easy, it does at least offer some aid to those who may not be great at the game. There are two difficulties for each level at the start, one for casual players and one for more advanced types. Also, once in a song, if you are bad at hitting notes the music will simplify itself down to make it easier to hear the beats. The only problem with that though is unskilled players won“t be able to enjoy the soundtrack fully as they won“t be able to hear it as it“s meant to be heard! There is no practice mode, but hearing the song stripped down to basics should aid confused players a bit. Beyond your small army of multi-colored beings, there are also a few more tricks up the God of Light“s sleeve. For one, he has access to four main support skills. These are able to increase defense of your team, or heal them up, and a few other things. There is also a special attack which he may launch after having done enough support moves. Using the attack means that every enemy around will get struck. It is rarely something you“ll find yourself needing, but support skills definitely are a big help. The heal in particular is fantastic since the God himself has no other means of protection aside from his team. There are twelve levels in all, which each have their own boss enemy at the end. These encounters require you to be able to use troops strategically, as well as fight quickly. Each boss has its own special features and some stages even have easier ways to take them down. One thing common between bosses is that they rarely are fighting alone. They tend to shoot out their own enemies to fight against yours, but you still must be able to hit the boss itself in between waves of smaller baddies. Once they get taken down, the stage ends and you are graded on your skill. Although there might not seem like so many levels overall, you might find them worth trying out in multiplayer. These two modes are co-op and versus, which act as you might expect. Unfortunately, both modes are based off of an ad hoc connection. Multiplayer is confined to “local” play, as opposed to online. Obviously this is fine if you have friends who are going to get together and play Orgarhythm on Vita, but this probably isn“t a common experience just yet. As such, I am unable to speak to how these modes play at this time. However, you can check out high score boards with players from everywhere. When it comes right down to it, the game feels kind of short, but if you“re really into it then it will probably offer a lot of replay value. XSEED also will be adding in DLC tracks and stages soon, but right now none are available. Orgarhythm definitely is a good mix between rhythm and RTS and is able to entertain for a handful of stages. If you are a fan of music games and own a Vita then this is definitely a game worth looking into, but expect that you will probably want to grab the DLC when its out to expand your experience. It is a strangely tough game to play at the start, but once you can finally wrap your mind around it (and speed up your thumb presses) then it becomes a fun, and hugely creative, musical adventure. Pros: + Nice variety of musical tracks, all of which are fun to listen to + Gameplay is simple to understand but tough to master + Creative boss designs and strategies to defeat them Cons: - Small amount of tracks for the $30 price - Multiplayer partners and opponents may be hard to find Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Orgarhythm offers an interesting new experience to those used to “regular” rhythm and music games.
  12. Marcus Estrada

    Orgarhythm Arriving on Vita Later this Month

    Are you a rhythm gaming or real time strategy fan who has been waiting for Vita games up your alley? If either (or both genres) are to your tastes then Orgarhythm should definitely be on your radar. The oddly named game has been known to be coming for months now, but was finally given a release date. XSEED Games has announced it will be coming on October 23rd. Orgarhythm is a RTS and rhythm hybrid which sees players controlling small armies to combat opponents with. Controlling troops in particular is done with screen prompts which should be hit to the beat of the music. Although it sounds a bit odd, it plays well once you get the hang of it. If you're wondering who would come up with such a thing it might help to know the studio that developed the title. The game was developed between AQUIRE and Nielo, the latter of which was founded by Takashi Hirai of Rez and Space Channel 5 fame. On October 23rd, Orgarhythm will arrive exclusively on Vita. It will only be available as a digital download and is set to cost $30. In case you were wondering about the contest to get your own music in the game, it's now over, and winners are expected to be announced soon.
  13. Are you a Vita owner who is looking for rhythm games to play? There are a handful on the horizon but your best bet might just be to look into DJMax Technika Tune. The title was announced a while back as coming to the US, but with no word as to the actual date. Developer Pentavision has now announced it will roll out to stores on October 26th. This isn't all that was announced. Alongside a $50 physical release will be a Limited Edition priced at $100. What are you getting for paying twice the price? DJMax Technika Tune Limited Edition will be limited to 750 units and contain the following: Game, two disc soundtrack, artbook, strap, hard case, soft pouch, and screen cleaner. If you want to order it the Technika Limited Edition will be up for pre-orders on September 27th through Amazon and Pentavision. If you've simply embraced the digital age and can do without all this stuff the game will also be coming to PSN. However, there was no date announced for that aside from acknowledging that it will come after the physical launch.
  14. Developer: indieszero Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: July 3, 2012 (out now) ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older The Final Fantasy series has not only graced us with memorable characters and stories, but also breathtakingly beautiful music. Terra“s Theme, To Zanarkand, Aerith“s Theme, and The Man with the Machine Gun are just few of many. So, why not make a Final Fantasy rhythm game? And that“s just what Square-Enix did when they brought out Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. It doesn“t disappoint at all, either. Right off the bat, Theatrhythm asserts itself as a creative and unique sort of rhythm game. Not only will you be tapping and sliding your stylus to Final Fantasy tunes, but you“ll also be leveling up characters, honing their stats and abilities, and collecting items and collectables. In a broad sense, it“s an RPG/rhythm-game hybrid. There are three modes for you to play in: series, challenge, and Chaos Shrine. Series mode allows you to play five songs from a Final Fantasy title in a row. Challenge mode lets you choose a single song to play through. Both series and challenge modes have three difficulty settings: basic, expert, and ultimate. Basic is pretty, well… basic. Those familiar with rhythm games will have absolutely no problem perfecting all the songs in this mode. Expert is a lot more challenging than basic, but ultimate is where the real fun is. It“s so fast-paced and will get your adrenaline pumping. You have to be a real rhythm game master in order to 100% all the songs on ultimate – or get all critical on each song, if you want to push it up a notch. The only annoying thing is that expert and ultimate modes are not available from the start. The third mode, Chaos Shrine, is where you“ll be spending a lot of your time if you“re interested in farming for rare items and shards (which are needed to unlock new characters). With Chaos Shrine, you receive “Dark Notesâ€, which consist of two songs. Every single Dark Note is randomly generated, so the amount of possible combinations for songs, scores, difficulty, bosses, and items is practically endless. The main problem I have with Chaos Shrine, however, is that there are only 20 songs (out of 70 or so that Theatrhythm has) that it uses. So, I hope you like hearing Fight with Seymour, Eternal Wind, and Mambo de Chocobo over and over again. Regardless, the random generation within Dark Notes still makes Chaos Shrine fun. The selection of songs chosen to be included in the base game of Theatrhythm is pretty nice. Most of the classics you know and love are in there ready to be played countless times. Of course, some of your favorites are probably missing and were made into DLC instead. Each song is only a dollar, but if you wanted all the ones currently available… it would be a little over $40 altogether. It“s a pretty steep price, but diehard Final Fantasy fans have had no trouble paying the money for all those songs. I“ve not bought any yet myself, but if I did have 40 bucks magically appear in my wallet right now, there might be a small chance I would put that towards some eShop cards to buy some sweet Theatrhythm tracks. And hey, with how much I“ve fallen in love with the game, it would be totally worth it. I also really enjoyed the wide variety of characters that are available to use. Not only are there 13 at your disposal right at the very beginning, but there“s another 13+ to unlock as you gather more shards throughout your playthrough. And they“re all so cute in Theatrhythm“s art style! Though I won“t spoil who you can get, I am somewhat disappointed Fran, Balthier, or Rikku weren“t implemented as playable characters. And as much as I dislike paid DLC, I would totally buy more characters to use in the game. I briefly mentioned that Theatrhythm has collectables. The main one is an album to collect cards in (called CollectaCards). There are 81 unique CollectaCards, however, if you want a 100% complete album, you“ll need 10 of each. When you collect four of one card, it will turn into a holofoil. And with seven of one card, it will turn into a super shiny platinum. Thankfully, you get plenty of CollectaCards throughout the game whenever you finish a song (especially in Chaos Shrine), so the feat of completing your album isn“t as difficult as it sounds. There are also unlockable videos to watch in theatre mode and songs to listen to in the music player. That“s self-explanatory, though. The last mode in the museum is records. Records includes your total play time, total number of chains, character usage, and so on. There are also trophies for you to achieve. There are 64 total trophies, and some are quite difficult, so those are sure to keep any completionist busy for a while. There“s so much to keep you occupied and entertained in Theatrhythm that you“ll be playing for hours on end. The replayability is sky-high! Not to mention it“s perfect for playing in short bursts. Theatrhythm was one of the most delightful gaming experiences of the year for me, and still is, since I“m aiming to unlock and achieve as much as I can. The game has also helped me rekindle a love for Final Fantasy. Now I want to go and play the games I haven“t touched or finished, like Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VI (oh, if only I had the time!). I“m sure I“ve made my point now about how much I love Theatrhythm. It“s a 100% must buy for any other Final Fantasy fans out there. And even if you don“t enjoy playing the main games in the series, but adore the music and you“re a fan of rhythm games, get it anyway! You“ll love it, I promise. Pros: + Mash-up of rhythm game and RPG aspects is unique, refreshing, and extraordinarily fun + More than 70 classic Final Fantasy songs to play, with over 40 to buy as DLC + Over 13 Final Fantasy characters to unlock, as well as other collectables + The chibi art style is adorable Cons: - Expert and ultimate modes for songs not available from the start - Chaos Shrine only uses 20 of Theatrhythm“s playable songs Overall: 9.5/10 Fantastic Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a dream come true for Final Fantasy fans and rhythm game enthusiasts. If you“re either or both, there“s absolutely no reason not to pick this game up.
  15. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Symphony

    Developer: Empty Clip Studios Publisher: Empty Clip Studios Platform: PC (GOG, Playism, Steam) ESRB: N/A (E suggested) Release Date: Out now Although we have seen many games over the years attempt to perfect procedurally-generated gameplay to music, only a few have been great successes. Titles like Audiosurf and Beat Hazard managed to be quite fun to play with our own unique soundtracks but many more games were unable to achieve such a victory. Symphony is the latest entrant into this subgenre of music games - but is it good? The first thing you“ll notice with Symphony when playing is how gorgeous it looks. Sure, it“s no Skyrim but it in no way needs to be. What it does offer players is a very pleasing art style where everything is geometric and glowing. Musical notes dance around the screen at times and the background pulses with your music. The whole thing looks great, although at times the aesthetics get in the way of seeing where enemies are. If you can train your eyes to read the field though, which takes maybe a few hours of playing, then the issue won“t be much of one anymore. Playing the game is also a thrill. There“s very little you have to do aside from shoot and move your ship about the level. Movement is contained to the mouse which means you“re going to be zipping around with complete control. It“s possible to make certain weapons fire with the left or right mouse buttons but unfortunately there“s little room for such strategy. More often than not, you“re simply going to want to fire continuously as there are always new waves of enemies entering the field. That“s when setting weapons to shoot continuously comes in handy. Selecting how to use weapons isn“t all you“ve got to work with though. The game grants you weapon after weapon as you complete songs. These items can be swapped out and placed on your ship, although only four can be on it at a time. Do you want pulsing blasts that take a while to charge but are incredibly powerful? Do you simply want lots of super fast shots? You can deck your ship out however you please and even change the angle they will blast at. These powerups are a lot of fun to mess with because it takes a while to see what works best with your own playstyle. When it comes to playing the game there is a lot done right but it“s still far from perfect. The music synching seems fairly well done, as enemies will pop into the screen with the beat and even go faster or slower depending on tempo. The screen as well will switch colors from a cool blue to red when things get exciting. For all that good stuff though, perhaps the biggest component that“s missing is truly distinct tracks. You may listen to all variety of genres but most songs end up playing out in much the same way. Each enemy has their own movement pattern and will always do that and there are only about six entry points onto the screen. Things always end up feeling very similar, even the boss fights that randomly appear from time to time. This is perhaps the second-biggest issue a game of this sort can have. The first is taking far too long to generate something completely un-fun. Now, Symphony is fun but if you“re expecting to have vastly different levels with your songs you“ll be disappointed. At least the main play that the game provides is fairly entertaining even though it is rarely changed up. With such a responsive ship and variety of enemies it keeps things seeming fun. The best way to enjoy the game is by getting to higher difficulty settings. It takes three boss battles to unlock the next difficulty but once you do it“s best to get going with it. On higher difficulties you can start to see what the game is meant to be. The frantic march of enemies and stronger ones on the field require you to think fast and change up the experience somewhat. Unfortunately there“s no perfect way to unlock these increases as it only happens once you trigger enough random boss fights. It“s also a bit dull to see that each set of bosses will have the same style until you gain the next difficulty. It would have been much more exciting to see each boss have different patterns. Now with that out of the way, it“s time to talk about the biggest failing of Symphony. It doesn“t know how to handle a music library. Now, it does do one pretty cool thing, which is to not let you play a song less than a minute long or one that is over eight. It would be dull to play a tiny song and tiring to go with a long one. However, beyond that, it“s all bad news. You are able to select what folders to have the game read and then may look through all the files by album, artist, or all. If all your music isn“t tagged perfectly though then you“ll find that the sorting filters aren“t very useful. Even if they were, you are still forced to flip through your entire library in one cumbersome viewer. It shows only three tracks at a time and was a horrible mess with my thousands of tracks. Now how can one have complete fun with a rhythm game that is focused around playing with your own music when you can“t even find the songs you want? Those who have a lovingly curated music collection will probably not have much trouble, but anyone else should look out. If the music selection could just be streamlined then the game would immediately be more playable. All they would need to do is either let you see the folders you set, add more filters, and let more tracks be visible at once. As it stands though the whole thing is a huge bother and detracts from the overall experience. The point of a game like this is to have fun with your songs, not grow tired of searching and settle for random tracks. When it comes right down to it, Symphony both succeeds and fails. It manages to have a great look and play a great deal of music files, but there“s still a lot to be desired. Having a nice selection of weapons to customize your ship with is neat until the game reveals itself to be quite similar track after track. If you can manage to play long enough you“ll even open up higher difficulties which make the game a whole lot more fun. Even with that though it still stuffers with a poor song selection screen which is quite a shame. Those who simply must own every rhythm game that allows custom tracks will find this to be better than many, but it“s not set to become the best anytime soon. Pros: + Lovely visual presentation + Customizing ship for your play style is fun + Game will play most songs thrown at it (MP3, M4A, FLAC, OGG, WMA, etc) Cons: - Music selection menu is a chore to use - Gameplay is far too repetitive until higher difficulties - Bosses are dull Overall Score: 5 (Out of 10) Average Some will get a lot out of Symphony but it“s only recommended for big music game fans.
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Symphony Boss Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    Symphony Gameplay Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images

  18. Developer: Sega, Xeen Publisher: Sega Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: July 10, 2012 ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older Lurking in the shadows, just a week behind the more anticipated rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, lays a cunning thief… Rhythm Thief. Phantom R and his game almost became ghosts here in the states, too, with repeated delays and the Sega layoffs in March. It“s been a long, hard road, but Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure was finally able to make its grand debut. And how very grand the game itself is. This seemingly unassuming rhythm game is chock-full of old-school Sega charm, and will grab hold of your attention and heart. Rhythm Thief takes place in the beautiful city of Paris, France. Our protagonist, Raphael, leads a double life as an art thief named Phantom R (his motives for stealing and later returning art are explained later on in the story). When pursuing his father, who left him when Raphael was a small child, he finds a bracelet with the same symbol as the coin that his father left him has. Soon enough, he becomes entangled with a girl named Marie, whose violin also carries that same symbol. The two young Parisians are then chased by a man claiming to be a resurrected Napoleon Bonaparte, who is seeking to rule Paris and the world with an artifact called the Dragon Crown. Raphael and his trusty canine sidekick, Fondue, work together to stop Napoleon and his cohorts; doing so to music and rhythm. Obviously, with all of that, Rhythm Thief doesn“t focus completely on being a rhythm game. There“s plenty of adventuring and moving around maps. There are even puzzle elements, though they are very simplistic and could have definitely used some more attention. Not to mention, on top of all of this, an engrossing and in-depth story that is certain to grab those that are not familiar with the rhythm genre. The game seems to take many notes from the Professor Layton series. The art style, animation, and poking around at every part of the screen for medals (instead of coins) make that very evident. Though, at the same time, Rhythm Thief puts its own spin on things and exudes a unique charm that doesn“t make it feel like a copy-cat. In any case, let“s stop rambling and talk about the main part: the gameplay! Rhythm Thief is the most fun I“ve had with a rhythm game in a long time. Sega and Xeen really put a lot of effort to make use of the 3DS“s properties and create a unique rhythm game. It“s not just tapping the screen or pressing buttons the whole time. Most of the rhythm minigames are presented in varying manners and are different from each other. In a way, it feels like a Rhythm Heaven game. Rhythm Thief even incorporates the 3DS“s gyroscope in order to make use of tilting and such in some of the rhythm minigames. It was completely unexpected when the first one that did make use of it popped up for me, but very fun (however, it could sometimes be unresponsive). Another one of my particular favorite set of minigames have you drag the stylus left and right to play Marie“s violin, presented in a way that feels similar to Guitar Hero. For the minigames, there is much help offered to those who need it and this is completely optional. Such help includes a “guide†which is usually an icon on the screen that indicates when a button needs to be pressed or stylus needs to be swiped. You can also buy items with your medals to make things easier - or more challenging!. The instructions presented before a minigame (and some puzzles) is started can sometimes be unclear, however. There was one in particular where I had absolutely no idea what was going on or what to do (it“s R31; be wary!). One of my favorite parts about Rhythm Thief is that some rhythm minigames are even themed around other Sega rhythm franchises like Space Channel 5 and Samba De Amigo. Playing a minigame that feels just like Space Channel 5, where you try to imitate the opponent“s moves, and seeing Phantom R go “chu, chu, chu!†is a real treat for those that are fans of the game. Rhythm Thief also offers bonus chapters at the end of the game, depending on whether you qualify for them or not. Finishing the “Master Instrument†and finding all the Phantom Notes are two such side-quests that need to be done to open up these new story branches. Only the most masterful rhythm thief will be able to do this, though. A lot of the sounds needed for the Master Instrument and collecting some Phantom Notes can no longer be done if you happen to miss them at a certain place at a certain time. Perhaps the most difficult chapter to unlock, however, requires you to get an “A†rank in every rhythm minigame. All of this provides a great incentive for completionists and those looking for a challenge. The gameplay of Rhythm Thief isn“t all that“s fantastic about it. The tracks used in and out of the rhythm minigames are pretty great, as they should be, and do a wonderful job of setting the mood. My absolute favorite piece of music from the game is titled “Moon Princessâ€. It“s incredibly emotional and memorable. As for voice-acting, it“s pretty nice aside from a few laughable French accents here and there. However, a noticeable problem throughout the game is that sometimes the written dialogue doesn“t match what is being audibly said. I wish a bit more attention had gone into that. The animated cutscenes are gorgeous and surprisingly well done (especially in 3D). They certainly rival the ones present in the Professor Layton series, Rhythm Thief“s probable inspiration. The scenery of Paris and other parts of France come alive with vibrant colors and details in both the cutscenes and backgrounds throughout the game. There“s just so much I love about Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure; I could go on and on about it all day. It“s an immense amount of fun and a fabulous new IP from Sega. You can tell how much love and care went into making it and I can only wish it was getting as much attention as Theatrhythm seems to be getting. Despite that, I hope it does well enough here in North America so there“s potential for a sequel (and the ending even hints towards one, too!). Rhythm Thief definitely deserves it. Second Opinion by Jason Clement Rhythm Thief caught my eye when it was initially announced and had been on my radar before it was released, but I admit I didn't expect for it to be anything more than an Elite Beat Agents clone with a story. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be much more than that, and also mixed with a bit of Professor Layton as well. The result is a game that's extremely clever in its rhythm game usage and has a charming story to boot. What surprised me the most about Rhythm Thief was just how well each rhythm game adapts to each circumstance in the story; you'll fight off enemy goons to a beat in one game, run along and hide behind differently colored statues to avoid detection in another, and play a violin in yet another one of more than 50 different types of rhythm games. And if that isn't impressive enough, the music absolutely nails it as well, as the soundtrack is incredibly catchy and left me wanting a physical collection of all of the songs. If there's anything that truly won me over though, it's the incredible quality of the animation during the cutscenes and throughout the story. Rhythm Thief has the best and most impressive animated cutscenes of any 3DS game to this point; there's no artifacting whatsoever and the frame-rate is seemless and never drops off. Add to that the wonderful cast of characters and a great story and Rhythm Thief has all of the makings of a great new potential franchise at hand. As Leah mentioned, let's hope this one sells well enough; it'll leave you hungering for that second installment by the end. And unless you absolutely hate rhythm games or don't own a 3DS, Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure should absolutely be on your radar as it's one of the best examples of a game that was built from the ground-up for the 3DS and succeeds because of it. Pros: + Innovative and fun rhythm minigames that make full use of the features the 3DS has to offer, such as the gyroscope + Offers adventure and puzzle elements on top of the main rhythm portion of the game + Tributes to other Sega rhythm games like Space Channel 5 and Samba De Amigo + Animated cutscenes and soundtrack are absolutely gorgeous Cons: - Directions before you start rhythm minigames are sometimes vague and unclear - In many instances, written dialogue does not match what is being audibly said Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure is a masterpiece of a rhythm game. For those that are fans of the genre and those having even a tiny bit of interest, you need to pick up a copy of this Sega title right away.