Rhythm Heaven Fever [Video]

Rhythm Heaven Fever
Rhythm Heaven Fever Cover
Platforms Wii
Genre Music, Minigames, and Monkeys
MtAMinutes to Action 4
Keep Playing? Yes
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It irks me that so many gamers believe the only worthwhile rhythm games are played with guitar peripherals. I love a good Rock Band party as much as the next Keith Moon wannabe, but there are too many wonderful music-based experiments in puzzle games and platformers and RPGs and shooters to cloister yourself in a pile of plastic instruments.

One such experiment was Rhythm Heaven, a strange blend of WarioWare and J-Pop that was one of my favorite Nintendo DS experiences. It didn't have a double platinum soundtrack or intense finger dexterity challenges, but the bubblegum ditties and cute-wacky scenarios got my head bobbing and my hummer humming as few games can.

Fortunately, Rhythm Heaven found enough of a worldwide fanbase to justify the next release, Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii. It trades the touch-screen taps and slides for a traditional two button setup, but the bright cartoon eye candy looks even sharper this time around. Budget priced at $30, Rhythm Heaven Fever could be worth a look if you didn't bury your Wii after Skyward Sword.

Check out the game's "Rhythm Test" below to get a feel for the basics, then check out the less boring songs in the videos thereafter.

- For the unfamiliar, Rhythm Heaven uses only two inputs (the A button and the A + B "pinch") and focuses more on perfect timing and consistency than complex arrangements. The game is tougher than it looks; the timing windows for each beat are strict compared to most rhythm games. And it only takes a handful of goofs to ruin your score.

- Rhythm Heaven Fever's cheerful mood curtails some of the game's intensity. The slick cartoon visuals and and catchy pop tunes are so warm and fuzzy that you can't help but loosen up a bit. The game has a huge, smooth style to its sprites that you just don't see in any other game.

- After finishing four songs, the game presents a Remix tune that flashes between the four minigames a la WarioWare. The constant switching keeps you on your toes, but the Remix rhythm includes each game in a way that feels natural. The Remixes were my favorite parts of Rhythm Heaven on DS, and I expect the same on Wii.

- Rhythm Heaven Fever has nice, big text. We like to point out which games insist on using infuriatingly tiny text that absolutely can't be read in standard definition, so I think it's only fair that we give credit where due. You'd need a pocket-sized TV to miss any messages in this game.

- I've also unlocked a few side games, of which there are two types. Endless Games, are rhythm challenges that increase in speed or difficulty until you slip up, while Toys present a unique little knickknack to play with (the first unlocked is a wind-up car, which you can try to wind up for just the right amount of time to stop on a certain spot).

- I've played eight different regular songs, and three of them have involved monkeys. Didn't know monkeys were so musically inclined.

Minutes to Action: 4

Would I Keep Playing? Yes. To be honest, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a bit more nerve-wracking than it looks, and I sometimes squeeze the Wii remote too hard when trying to hit every beat perfectly. But it's also as fun as it looks, and it looks like pure joy to me.