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Rhythm Heaven Fever

Rhythm Heaven Fever is a musical toy box packed with over fifty arrangements of beat-dropping rhythm-based mechanics. Nintendo cut out all the frills in favor of sharp personality and a reliance only on only two buttons. And yet it never feels limited or unambitious, only quirky and creative in spirit.

Fever’s foremost quality’s found in the delightful presentation, where colorful minimalist backdrops relay that signature Nintendo Quality, a classic kind of wonderful simplicity pining for the days of the 8-bit console, back when two button commands were the only option. But today, in the videogame landscape of full motion controls and complicated layouts, it forgoes all these complications and makes a return to the straight-forward, fully focused on the mechanics and clear-cut presentation.

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It’s all about keeping time. There are simple variants and off-beat time changes but generally the focus remains on sticking to the beat. It wouldn’t seem like the most meaningful kind of user interaction but the content’s so unusually rich in character and the music so pleasant that it shouldn’t act as a deterrent.

One moment monkeys are pitching you golf balls on the greens and the next you’re slicing through ghouls as a classic Samurai or taking part in a back-and-forth interview as a professional wrestler. The themes pass quickly along specific tiers which then culminate in remix modes, tying the events into rapid-paced tap sessions. There’s a decent number of mini-games ranging in quality from the excellent and direct Figure Fighter and Ringside to ones with weak beats like Monkey Watch or the slightly off-putting Love Rap. With only a couple exceptions, they’re mostly fun and charming, with some fun visual tricks and imagery breaking up the monotony of the rhythm well enough.

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There are some inherent moments of frustration, as the Wii Remote’s inputs prove less-than-ideal for the precision-based formulas and that kind of accuracy’s nearly impossible with the console’s delay over HD TVs but otherwise, the series’ first console entry is right on-cue. Some players may also have trouble keeping the beat but really the whole idea’s to improve and test one’s rhythm – that’s the difficulty of it.

Importantly, the translations are well-handled and rarely come out as unnatural or interrupt the flow. And yet it’s retained a quintessential Japanese charm that often holds true to many of the best Nintendo games.

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Rhythm Heaven Fever is a late, essential pick-up for the Nintendo’s fading console, coming in at an attractive budget price with an exceptional amount of polish.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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