renegadesaint's Elite Beat Agents (Nintendo DS) review

A Rhythm Game That's A Bit Out Of Synch.

Elite Beat Agents is an interesting game with a lot of character and some great humor.  Unfortunately, it also has a lot of problems.  In it, you play as the Elite Beat Agents, a group of dancing government (?) agents, whose sole purpose is to make a difference in the lives of others.  How do they do this?  By dancing, of course.  At it's heart, EBA is a simple rhythm game you play using the only the stylus.  You'll find yourself tapping, dragging, and tracing your way to the beat.  This is all well and good when it works, but when it doesn't, the game can be a frustrating mess.

The Good

  • Controls - The touch screen is responsive and it never feels like you miss a beat due to lousy detection.  The spinning sections can be annoying, but they are never unfair due to sloppy controls.
  • Crazy Humor - The game is loaded with off-the wall humor and ridiculous situations.  Helping a penniless oil baron get his gold-digging wife back is a joy.
  • Style - The cut scenes and comic book panels look fantastic and really grab the player's attention.  The colorful art is an excellent supplement to the wacky tales unfolding during the missions.
  • Music - Some of the songs are great choices and lend themselves to this type of rhythm game.

The Bad

  • Difficulty - There is nothing wrong with a game being difficult.  In fact, I love a good challenge and the gameplay difficulty actually ramps up nicely in EBA, unlocking more challenging versions of the song as you go.  The problem here is that it can be difficult for the wrong reasons.  Sometimes the screen is too cluttered to tell where the next beat will appear.  Even worse, your own hand will often get in the way of seeing the screen.  This leads to a lot of repetition and memorization.
  •  Repetition - Something about having to repeat songs in this game seems worse than in other rhythm games.  You're forced to sit through all of the cutscenes just to get back to the part of the song that you failed, even though you've seen them before.  If the part you're struggling with is at the end of the song (which it invariably will be, due to the nature of the game), you'll spend a lot of time playing the parts you already know and very little working on those you need to learn.  This could've been ameliorated with a practice mode, but no such thing exists.
  • Variety - Or lack thereof.  There are only 19 songs in the game and you will probably see the majority of them in the first day if you start on the easiest setting.  Three songs open up as you increase your score and level up, but it's just not enough.  We've come to expect a lot of variety in our rhythm games thanks to Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, so this seems like a step backwards.
  • Music - The music is a relatively eclectic mix and it works most of the time, but there are a few stinkers in there.  It's obvious they wanted to please a large fan base, but some of the song/story pairings make no sense (e.g., Sk8er Boi, Walkie Talkie Man, etc.).

The Ugly

  • 0: The Christmas Song - Yeah...  You have to play it to know what I mean.

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Modes played and beaten: Training, Breezin', Cruisin'

Modes played and not beaten: Sweatin'

Modes not played: Multiplayer, Hard rock

Time Spent: 5 hours
2 Comments
Posted by AustinJ

The Christmas song is the BEST one in the game. I dig how bizarre this game is, even though I agree with it being frustrating at times. Although, nothing in the game is nearly as frustrating as Nintendo's refusal to put another one out in the US.

Posted by ZettaSlow

There is a skip button on cutscenes at the beginning of the songs.  Don't think so on the end, but still.  I think you missed it.

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