albedos_shadow's Elite Beat Agents (Nintendo DS) review

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Just don't play it in public.

Sometimes, a game comes along that is fun to play, and has a lot of replay value, but you just can't believe the premise. Elite Beat Agents is that game.

Based on the Japanese series Ouendan, EBA puts you in the shoes of one of the Elite Beat Agents, basically an elite force that helps fix people's problems through... wait for it... DANCING! Yeah, okay, it's pretty weird, but that's definitely a part of this game's charm. Just watching the Agents dance around on the bottom screen is enough to make you laugh. The top screen plays out the story of the person in trouble. These may be the highlight of the game. From the weather forecaster who blows away rainclouds (with the help of friendly forest animals, of course), to basically helping a French painter "get lucky", the stories are crazy. With all the gameplay on the bottom screen, you'll probably miss these the first time through, so it's a good thing the game has a replay option to watch your sessions over and over.

Gameplay-wise, EBA shows that simple is sometimes best. The basic gameplay consists of circles appearing onscreen. These circles have another circle which close in on them slowly. Your goal is to tap the circle as soon as the outer circle touches the inner circle. This may seem easy, but at times, there can be so many circles onscreen at once, you must be a master to get a perfect score. There are variations on this. Sometimes a path will appear onscreen, and you must trace it with your stylus. The other type of marker is a spin marker, which is pretty self-explanatory. The spin marker is pretty much my only problem with the gameplay, as it feels like a pretty useless aspect, and just succeeds in making you worry about breaking your stylus.

EBA is not an easy game. With 4 difficulty levels, though, the game never quite gets out of hand completely, raising your skill through making you repeat levels over and over as you fail.

The main problem I have with the game is it's soundtrack. It does fit the game perfectly, but it's just a little strange. Samplings include classic rock hits like "Highway Star" and "Jumping Jack Flash", but also throws in some oddities like "Material Girl" and "La La". This weird mix of songs makes the game a bit difficult to play in public, unless you want to be seen jamming to Ashlee Simpson on your DS.

EBA is definitely a must-have for any DS owner, and for any fan of rhythm games. Just make sure you've got some headphones for playing outdoors.

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