Do you like Rhythm Games? Have you ever spent any time with classic toe tappers like Elite Beat Agents (or its Japanese version, Ose! Tatakae! Ouendan!), Rhythm Tengoku, or the Parappa the Rapper series? If you read any of those titles and made a gleeful little squeaky noise at its memory, let us tell you something: you are going to go absolutely bananas for Rhythm Spirit. Just like those games, you’re tapping buttons in time with music to get through each level – but this time, the setting is feudal, mystic Japan and you’re a ninja fighting off other ninjas, demons, and more.
The moment you fire up Rhythm Spirit, the first thing you are going to notice is how pretty it is. All done in a side-scrolling 2D style with an eastern folklore theme, the game has a vivid, hand drawn look, and the art is excellent. The premise is uncomplicated -- you're a ninja named Toshi on a quest, and to make it through every level, you're going to have to beatmatch your way through it. The styles of the levels vary though, so unlike Taiko no Tatsujin where the majority of rhythm challenges are the same, Rhythm Spirit dices it up on every level. You'll start off escaping from a glut of assassins, but soon enough you'll be fighting Oni and playing flute lullabies for Kappa, all to the beat of the music in each level. The way the levels alternate is really well done, and we found it impressive that the game guided you so fluidly through various scenarios.
As for the gameplay in Rhythm Spirit, it is pretty simple to pick up. You'll start with a world map to navigate, which offers ten levels of play. After you click the level with a touch of your finger, you'll be able to choose from three difficulty modes. After that, you'll find two buttons on each side of your screen to control the game with. The left side has an up and down button, and the right a sword and a shuriken. There will be a horizontal line running across the middle of the screen, and this is where your beats will flow, from both the left and the right.
Mostly it'll be single beats in the early levels, but as you progress, you'll have to execute combo of both left and right side buttons, and you'll also have to hold down buttons to pull off charged moves which will hit your opponent that much harder. Like Taiko no Tatsujin, you get different point totals for how well you land each beat, so you can get ok, good, great or excellent ratings depending on how accurate you are.
While the music in Rhythm Spirit is not quite as strong as the Rhythm Tengoku series, it is still very good. This game is best played with headphones so you can really use the beats to nail as many perfects as you can. We found that when playing the game without headphones, fingers easily slipped over the iPhone speaker while gripping it for play, and in a game like this hearing the music is essential, so make sure you rock it out right. Even after you beat the game on all difficulty levels, you also have ten trophies to win, ten yokai coins to collect, and leaderboards to track your scores.
Simply put, Rhythm Spirit is a winner. The price in unbeatable, the music is excellent, it looks polished, and best of all, it's really, really fun to play. If you've waiting for that new rhythm game and replaying your favorite old ones to keep the hunger at bay, pop this one on your phone and practice hard mode. It might not be as brutal as a round of Pop'n Music in the arcade, but it’s going to keep your fingers tapping for a while, and we'll bet you'll find yourself humming the music before too long.
Mar 28, 2011