I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’ve seen a nice handful of genuinely brilliant games on the Wii in the last six months despite the console now entering what may well be its final year. Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise looks to round off this line of Wii exclusives delivering what may well be one of the simplest but at the same time also toughest rhythm based game I’ve ever played. Is this crazy addition to the Wii library worth grooving to though?
So what is Beat the Beat all about? The basic idea centres on hitting buttons in time with short tunes whilst some form of crazy scenario plays out on screen. Each stage will have you looking for sounds and pictures prompting you as you go in order to keep a perfect rhythm. It’s actually quite amazing the power this game has over you, each stage grabbing you in an almost trance-like state as you focus so hard on what you see and hear. Yiour hand sweating with the worry that your next could be too quick or maybe just too late.
The game is played entirely with the A and B buttons. That’s it. No analogues, no waggle, just the two buttons. Pressing either the A button alone or both together, the difficulty instead comes from getting your timing perfect and keeping to the beat of the music. While the idea of only two different choices may seem like an overly simplified version of Rock Band, you’ll be surprised how tough the game can get. Whereas other music focused games like Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution can be fairly forgiving should you miss your cue a little, in Beat the Beat hitting the button even the slightest bit early or late counts as a miss. It’s either right on time or nothing. It’s this emphasis on perfection that will see you constantly returning to previous songs in order to first achieve a medal for getting a “superb” rating and then if you’re brave enough a “perfect” medal for nailing every prompt, no mistakes.
Each of the fifty stages offers their own wildly unique scenario that feels different despite essentially involving the same two button presses. The opening game for example had me swinging a golf club as a monkey and mandrill set me up with numerous balls while another would have someone flicking peas across a table as I stabbed them with a fork and ate them. The game is absolutely crazy! Nowhere else are you going to find executive pigs swivelling in chairs and posing or a wrestler being interviewed to the beat of a tune. It’s these outlandish ideas that will keep you guessing as to where the next stage will take you. The music too is just as brilliant as the visuals it compliments with head-bopping pop, electronica, rap and vocalised J-pop littering the game’s fifty or so games. First playthroughs will see you focusing hard on simply getting the gist of the beat, but after your second or third, you’ll find yourself humming along or tapping you toe to the music.
The game can prove too difficult at times resulting in repeated plays on the same stage until you get things right. The aforementioned pig game had me playing for hours till I could get the timing spot on and by the end I was completely burnt out. With progress only being made by finishing each stage in turn, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a giant roadblock the minute you find that game that just can’t be beaten. This isn’t helped by a ranking system that at times feels too random. A near perfect run with a couple of mistakes at the end managed to net me the game’s “okay” rating while one that had me make a considerable amount more near the beginning scored me a “superb”. It’s these moments of pure frustration that slightly hurt the game as you question the game’s grading consistency.
Stages are split into separate tiers with four available in each. Once you’ve managed to pass or earn a medal in each, you’ll gain access to a special remix that combines all four previous stages into one fantastic mesh. These are even tougher than the standard affair switching between scenarios in seconds meaning you’ll need to be on your toes to succeed. As well as the standard shorter stages you’ll eventually unlock an assortment of goodies ranging from the bizarre story snippets that accompany each stage to crazy toys and a number of endless modes that stop the minute you make a single mistake. All of this is neatly laid out in the game’s only menu interface spread out like iPhone apps on your television.
New to the series is the multiplayer mode, in which two players play simultaneously. Stages require you to earn enough points between you in order to reach a desired rank, with bonus points awarded based on the harmony of the players. You’ll come across points where you’ll play together as well moments where you take it in turns in each song. Overall it’s a great addition to the series which is only let down by its scope. Only a measly fifth of the single player stages are available to play co-op which is a real shame as multiplayer feels like it perfectly suits the zany nature of the game.
One of the game’s biggest strength is in its appearance and thanks to gameplay and an art style that is smart, quirky and often at times adorable you’ll be hard pressed finding another game that makes you smile this much. Playing this game I would constantly have friends or family walk by my room only to stop in their tracks and smile and laugh at the sights of a cat playing badminton with a dog whilst flying in planes or a guy on a date kicking sports balls away from two gophers also on a date. They loved it.
Crushing difficulty and dodgy grading system aside, Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise is an enormously fun game that offers a loveable mixture of eccentric visuals and memorable tunes. Bursting with imagination, Beat the Beat delivers just what you need this summer. A game bound to make you smile from ear to ear.