First Impressions: Rhythm Heaven (Wii)

Tapping never felt so good

At last week's Nintendo press event in the Netherlands, we played several games, but one which has oddly not seen much coverage around the web yet is the latest entry in the Rhythm Heaven series.

Scheduled for release in Japan next week, the demo Nintendo had on offer was completely untouched by translators, and was thus completely in Japanese. However, this is Rhythm Heaven we're talking about, so the gameplay is so simple and straightforward that you don't need to understand any text for it to click.

The demo had a selection of three games from the final build on offer, all of which have been seen in trailers and screenshots already released. The first of the three, which we were recommended to start with, was naturally the easiest. All we did was control a hand holding a fork, attempting to stab several peas as they were shot across the white surface we could only assume was a table.

Getting it right puts the peas on the fork dead centre, while being slightly off means they move off to the left or right a little bit. The game tried to trick us by throwing a couple of sets of high-speed triple peas at us, but in the end we managed to score a perfect rating.

The second game starred the familiar samurai character from the previous games, still caught in an endless struggle with the strange black tengu mask-wearing creatures he's fought before. This time, we had to make him slash up the creatures as they jumped out of a black void, to prevent him from being attacked.

We were also attacked by an entire group of smaller demons a few times, requiring us to hit the A button multiple times quickly to do a wild spin attack, but the real hilarity started later as the screen started getting covered with inspiring images of the things the samurai was fighting for, like happy children, almost completely obscuring all the action that was going on. The screen even went completely black for a while, requiring us to use only the sound to guide us, but we still nailed a perfect score.

The third game was perhaps the most well-known one from media of the game thus far, as it involves a dog and cat playing tennis while flying planes. We didn't think this one would be too hard before, but the demo convinced us otherwise: this game requires you to keep pretty much a constant tempo going, with a ton of speed changes and other things to throw you off guard.

A thick mess of clouds came up and blocked our vision, much like in the previous game, and the cat in the other plane frequently flew further into the distance before coming back, making the ball travel much longer distances and making it much faster. We're sure the people living below didn't like it, but we missed many of the balls once this started happening, and only just managed to get a pass.

Although three games is most likely just a microscopic amount of content in the final game, we were already sold on the latest Rhythm Heaven by this demo. It might seem like the franchise is better suited to handhelds, but trust us, the Wii game works every bit as well. With the same simple gameplay, simplistic, stylish look, catchy music and many of the same quirky characters, we're certain that this'll match up to the other games once it hits store shelves later this year (North America) or early next year (Europe).