Elite Beat Agents (DS) Review
Some of you import crazy gamers will know of a Japanese DS game by the name of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. In Ouendan, you play as three cheerleaders who go out and solve people’s problems by dancing. You have to hit on-screen markers in time with the music to get points. Consecutive hits result in combos for higher scores. Some markers required you to hit the marker then drag it along a path, and occasionally backtrack across said path, while keeping the stylus on the moving marker at all times. The premise Elite Beat Agents is essentially the American version of this game, with some minor (and a few major) differences. The real big difference is the soundtrack. Instead of keeping a J-pop only soundtrack like Ouendan, they’ve decided to use covers of popular English songs. Other differences noted are that you play as secrets agents who’s leader is the very enthusiastic Commander Kahn.
The audio in this is game extremely well done for a handheld game. But because the DS’s speakers still aren’t the greatest in the world, it is still recommended that you use headphones for best sound quality. The soundtrack, on the other hand, isn’t very memorable or moving. As mentioned before, it’s comprised of covers of popular English singles. Some of the artists included are Ashlee Simpson, Sum 41, Avril Lavigne, and Earth Wind & Fire. Some of the most original sounding tracks are Makes No Difference (Sum 41) and YMCA (The Village People), while many others are quite honestly just plain bad, most notably La La (Ashlee Simpson) and Sk8er Boi (Avril Lavigne). It’s not that the original versions of these tracks are bad, it’s just that the people who cover them don’t exactly seem like they should be on American Idol.
The graphics are also very well done. On the top screen during a song, you’re show the in game 2D cut scenes (that you usually can’t watch because you’re actually trying to play the game), and at the bottom you’ll be shown some 2D backgrounds, the Agents dancing (in 3D), and the game markers. Also on the bottom screen you’ll be shown the Yes/No bar that shows whether you’re failing or not, and the combo multiplier. The Animanga 2D scenes are very well drawn and have some nice color to them, and the three dimensional agents look pretty good also.
Each song has its own story to it. Once you choose a song from the map (A giant 3D globe that you rotate by dragging the stylus) it will give you a brief description of the client, some screen shots from the song, the name of the song, and the title of the story chapter. Once you choose that chapter it will give you a short cut scene lain out in comic book format that explains the story, the problem, and the character(s) for that song, eventually leading up to them calling the Elite Beat Agents by screaming ‘HELP!’ From there, you’re ready to go. While you’re playing the song, there will some comic book/anime style scenes showing the story in progress. After you complete each section of the song, the beat markers will stop and you’ll be shown a fairly short little scene of the story progressing, and then a big circle showing that you successfully completed that section of the song, or a big X to show you failed that section. Usually towards the end you’ll be given a huge wheel you’ll have to spin using the stylus to rack up some good bonus points, but in some of the later songs there will be more multiple wheels peppered throughout the track. Once you’ve completed the song it’ll show you the ending cut scene and a congratulatory resolution picture to show you that you’ve completed that song and solved that person’s problem. After that, you get the song breakdown screen. Here you can see what sections of the song you completed, how many markers you missed and hit, and your score. It also has a line graph of how you did and which parts you weren’t doing too well on.
The multiplayer is pretty fun, too. Each song has a different story here than in single player, and usually involves two people or teams competing against each other, and the agents dancing to help them complete their tasks. Each player plays as one separate agent, which you can choose from any of the ones you’ve unlocked. Unfortunately, there are only a certain number of songs you can play if both players don’t have their own copy of the game, and you can only play Versus Mode.
Each difficulty has it’s own separate main agent, with the two backup dancer agents. You can use any of these agents in multiplayer mode once you’ve unlocked them. There are a total of 19 songs, three of which are unlockables. There are also 4 different difficulty levels you can play and a truckload of extra features, such as the ability to save your game play of a song and view it whenever you please. You can also send these to your friends through the DS’s wireless connectivity. There’s also a gallery, a section where you can view your overall rank, a place where you can view your high score for each song, and the ability to broadcast the training and demo stages to your friends wirelessly. All of this adds up to a surprising amount of depth for a handheld rhythm game.
Although this isn’t a game that you’ll sit down and try to complete for hours on end (though you can do that if you wish), this is a game that you can pull out and play whenever, where ever, alone or with friends.