Reviews// Rhythm Tengoku Gold

Posted 7 Aug 2008 14:50 by
The lucky few who have played Rhythm Tengoku on the trusty old Game Boy Advance will know full well why we’ve gone to silly lengths to bring you a review of this DS sequel so soon after its release in Japan. The rest of you will likely be saying “Rhythm Ten-WHAT?” and thinking of clicking the Back button. Don’t!

Not only was the first Rhythm Tengoku game a brilliant, inspired work of unshackled creativity that stood out as something special even within the generally-high-quality rhythm-action genre, but this sequel is every bit as good - and it’s a bit different, too.

Rhythm Tengoku (‘tengoku’ means ‘heaven’, which is pretty appropriate) had you tapping along in time to Japanese electro music that was synchronised with the movement of random robotic shit on screen. Gold presents yet more fun-loving acts of invention and is interacted with via touch-pen presses, releases and flicks.

You hold the DS like a book (remember those?) and set the screen orientation to match your more rhythmically dependable hand. Then it’s simply a case of copying the actions presented at each pre-level tuition screen while staying in time and not losing your touch.

Be warned though, this is a bit of a deceptive game. It looks simple and sounds saccharine sweet, but it also demands perfect timekeeping. You have to play as though you are Kraftwerk’s drummer (Klaus Dinger, for example), which is another way of saying you need to become The Man-Machine (possibly Karl Bartos). That might not sound like great fun, but when you get things right and the music and animations all hit like well oiled pistons, Rhythm Tengoku Gold feels like a mini rave.

The most euphoric moments are in the game’s Remix stages, which appear at the end of each four-level run. These combine elements from the four stages you’ve just worked through, mashing things up at a tempo that gradually increases – like playing in fast-forward – and leaves you frantically struggling to stay in the game.

The weird thing about Rhythm Tengoku Gold is that very few musical instruments appear. Most of the time you have to perform tasks that are completely unrelated to the world of music making, but in a musical way (just like Matthew Herbert).

Some examples: playing a rhythmic table tennis rally, painting robots on a semi-automated conveyor belt, firing pegs through holes set in square tiles and shooting space invaders.
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