Giant Bomb Review

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Rhythm Heaven Fever Review

5
  • Wii

Rhythm Heaven Fever's catchy tunes and surprisingly varied two-button gameplay combine into an experience that's as wonderfully silly as it is frequently challenging.

One gets the impression that Nintendo has never been quite sure what to do with Rhythm Heaven (or Rhythm Tengoku, in Japan). Unlike their less-musical equivalent, the WarioWare series, these rhythmic minigame collections have no ubiquitous mascot character to help market the inherent weirdness within. Without that crutch, it becomes difficult to explain to all but the most Japanese-enthusiastic audience exactly what the hell is going on in any of these games. Bizarre music plays in time with even more bizarre visual scenarios, and the gameplay often revolves around just a couple of different commands over the course of the entire game. It's not a game of which the appeal can easily be summed up in a TV commercial--at least in this country.

There is a reason why these monkeys are helping this golfer. That reason? MUSIC.
There is a reason why these monkeys are helping this golfer. That reason? MUSIC.

But that's what makes this franchise, and this latest entry, Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii, so fantastic. These games are so fundamentally bonkers that even if you've played the other entries in the franchise, you'll still feel like you're getting a fresh experience each time around. The minigames collected in Rhythm Heaven Fever may only revolve around a couple of variances on pressing the A and B buttons on the Wii Remote in time with the music, but somehow, be it through the transcendentally insane visual presentation that comes along with it, or the undeniably catchy rhythms inherent to the music, each game feels wholly unique, and almost always is a bunch of fun to play.

There are a bit more than 50 new minigames in Rhythm Heaven Fever, each only lasting a minute or two, but with incentives to play them again and again. Trying to get into specific examples of what each game does would be pointless, as they all revolve around the same core theme: press the A, B, or A and B buttons in time to the musical cues played out on-screen.

That sounds deceptively simple, but the rhythms employed in Rhythm Heaven Fever are often tricky, off-time, and full of stunts and pauses that are guaranteed to trip you up at various points. Yes, you're just pressing a pair of buttons in different combinations, but the timing requires precision, and a specific ear that can pick out the patterns within the musical composition. Each game is trickier than the last, of course, ensuring that by the time you get to the last few minigames, you'll either be an expert rhythm maker or hopelessly out of your depth.

Odds are greater on the former than the latter, as Rhythm Heaven Fever's progression is geared toward helping those hopelessly arrhythmic clods who couldn't keep a 4/4 beat if someone put a gun to their head. Four minigames are assigned to a specific set, or level, with a fifth game--a "remix" version of the four previous minigames combined into a single song--rounding out each tier. Should you find yourself hopelessly beaten down by one particular game or another, the developers were kind enough to provide you a skip option so that you might move on. The trick is that you'll have to fail several times before it pops up, meaning players who just want to skip from game to game because they're terrible at everything won't have that option until they've failed repeatedly and spectacularly.

If I had to pick a favorite among the many minigames, it's definitely this one. The song refuses to leave my brain.
If I had to pick a favorite among the many minigames, it's definitely this one. The song refuses to leave my brain.

Again, it would be pointless to try to run down the different minigame scenarios for you, because they all dart about in so many wild directions that it would essentially amount to me trying to describe each individual game specifically, since no two are exactly alike. They're similar in action, of course, but the scenarios include everything from musical pro-wrestling promo cuts, to one of the least "gangsta" rap video shoots since David Faustino made an album. Some of these are so completely out-there that even Nintendo's localization team seems to have thrown its hands up in surrender at a few different points, opting to just have characters describe the action as, "Hey! Let's do that thing we do! Yeah, that thing we do is great!" I don't remember the specifics of that one, but I believe it involved sentient tuning forks hitting their heads against each other's asses to power a zeppelin.

It's all done with a cute, if utterly strange cartoon art style that translates surprisingly well from the series' traditionally handheld roots. The music is also tremendously good, boasting some of the most inexplicably infectious songs of any game in the franchise. Stylistically, they run the gamut from goofy bossa nova to industrial-sounding pop music, though all of it sounds like it's been filtered through an old Casio keyboard--and I don't mean that insultingly. I've had at least a few of the songs stuck in my head on repeat for the last week, and based on conversations I've had with others who have played it that mostly consisted of them repeating the game's nonsense lyrics back at me, I'm not alone.

It'd be nice if the tutorials for each game could be accessed separately from the main game, and that you didn't have to wait for the tutorial to load up so you can skip it each time you play. The unlockables and bonus bric-a-brac aren't especially great either. But those niggles aside, Rhythm Heaven Fever offers up no shortage of replayability purely on the merits of how much fun these games are. The two-player mode is a nice bonus as well, that will certainly keep those with friends and family around busy for a good bit. But even if you're strictly playing solo, Rhythm Heaven Fever is one of those games that begs to be replayed solely on the basis of its content, and how completely, peculiarly awesome it is. This is a great game at a great price for a console currently gasping gravely for games. If your Wii is still plugged into a TV-like device, Rhythm Heaven Fever is a game that demands your attention.

Alex Navarro on Google+

42 Comments

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Cyrisaurus

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Edited By Cyrisaurus

I need to find someone who still has a Wii that's not buried in their closet to see if they will get this so I can play it.

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Vinny_Says

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Edited By Vinny_Says

pack up your wii guys, it's all over now

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SaturdayNightSpecials

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Wario Ware: Rhythm Heaven

Do.

It.

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ADAMWD

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Edited By ADAMWD

Surprised Jeff didn't review this, but I guess his love for Rhythm Heaven is documented well enough. I guess he was also kinda bogged down with Vita releases.

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rmanthorp

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Edited By rmanthorp  Moderator

WOW, YOU GO BIG GUY!

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Thor_Molecules

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Edited By Thor_Molecules

Wubadubadubadub, is that true?

Thanks, Alex!

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CosmicQueso

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Edited By CosmicQueso

I bought it, I played it, I loved it.

Giant Bomb, Nintendo owes you a royalty check.

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ElCapitan

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Edited By ElCapitan

I bought it and loved it too. FANTASTIC game.

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wolf_blitzer85

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Edited By wolf_blitzer85

That song has been ruining my life as well too. Damn that super adorable voice and amazing presentation!

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SpunkyHePanda

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Edited By SpunkyHePanda

Agreed. God, I wish Nintendo did DLC. I need more levels.

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Jeldh

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Edited By Jeldh

I dont own a wii but Im glad this game got 5 stars!

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Joeku

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Edited By Joeku

POSE FOR THE FANS, Nintendo.

WUBADUBADUBAH'S THAT TRUE? This is your last great game on the Wii.

YEAH, this is your swan song.

WHOA, YOU GO BIG GUY, see ya on the WiiU.

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aceofspudz

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Edited By aceofspudz

"Rhythm Heaven 5 stars! Is that true?"

Navarro: "Yeh"

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fox01313

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Edited By fox01313

If both Alex & Jeff are pretty much 5 starring this game, this game should be on everyone's Wii ASAP.

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CJduke

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Edited By CJduke

Seriously how does Alex have time to review more games than anyone else (except Jeff maybe) on the Giantbomb staff.

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Mento

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Edited By Mento  Moderator

The Wii's been seriously killing it lately: Skyward, RHF, Xenoblade, The Last Story. It's been less a swan song and more a two-CD swan orchestral soundtrack with an additional illustrated booklet detailing the swan's musical development since its early, experimental "ugly duckling" period.

I think that since the Wii U is backwards compatible, and there's all these fine games coming out at the end of the Wii's lifetime that people may not be considering purchasing right now, it's going to give that new console a hell of a boost come release time. I guess we'll have to wubba dubba dub if that's true. Uh, "wait and see", rather.

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Phoenix87

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Edited By Phoenix87

Greatest game ever and I love that it inspired stuff like this:

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rbanke

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Edited By rbanke

This game is making my holding out for the Wii U difficult.

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KingCrimson4life

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Edited By KingCrimson4life

I want a Giant Bomb shirt that says "Pose for the fans" so bad!!!!

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buzz_killington

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Edited By buzz_killington

I just want to read all their back stories. The monkey/golfer one was great.

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vibratingdonkey

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Edited By vibratingdonkey

Buying a Wii at this point seems like a waste, but I may get a WiiU because of this being a thing that exists.

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coakroach

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Edited By coakroach

Man... why does Alex review everything?

It's not that the review is bad but it makes more sense when it can be backed up with stuff thats said on the bombcast or seen in a quick look.

When Alex does a review it feels really disconnected from the rest of the site, which is fine when you're reviewing Blackwater, but not a game like this.

Basically what i'm saying is that Alex should only be allowed to play and review the worst games available.

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durden77

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Edited By durden77

If GB is gonna make Alex review everything, they at least need to get him some more artwork for his caricature.

Hell Patrick just reviewed Alan Wake and there's just an empty space where his art should be. Kind of lazy looking.

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alex

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Edited By alex

@coakroach: Nemesis, thy name is you.

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coakroach

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Edited By coakroach

@Alex: So... we wont be getting a review of this next week?

No Caption Provided
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beard_of_zeus

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Edited By beard_of_zeus

That mini-game with the zeppelin that's mentioned evoked such a "what the hell?" from me the first time I played it - which is saying a lot, considering some of the premises of the other games. The setup for the game in the practice section is pretty much like Alex said, the characters say something like "Hey, c'mon, you know what this is all about, right! Well...you'll get it as you play!" And then they proceed to power a zeppelin through space on their ass-headbutting bicycle built for three while yelling "DWONK DWONK"...to some funky rhythms, of course.
 
Goddamn, this is such a ludicrously ridiculous and fun game. I've been trying to spread it out and savor it so I don't finish it too quickly. Also...I may be stuck on that Love Rap game, its rhythms escape me at the moment. Yes, I know you can skip it after failing a couple times, but I REFUSE!

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Little_Socrates

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Edited By Little_Socrates

I saw the score and assumed Jeff, but Alex shocks me with a happy five-star. I couldn't agree more with your statements, though. I'm separated from the game for at least a month or so, but I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it again.

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gatehouse

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Edited By gatehouse

I don't even have a Wii, but I need to this in my life. No UK release date yet for this little slice of joy yet though....

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csl316

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Edited By csl316

Music is the weapon.

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GalacticPunt

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Edited By GalacticPunt

@coakroach: That's an awfully... Big Rig. Heh.

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rjayb89

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Edited By rjayb89

I'm not very far in this game, but I've been relying solely on audio cues, eyes closed and all. Once I look, I fuck up so bad.

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alex

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Edited By alex

@coakroach:

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DefaultProphet

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Edited By DefaultProphet

I don't get it. I really don't.

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Cybexx

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Edited By Cybexx

Amazoned, I don't know why I didn't order it last week.

Alex, with the number of reviews you do for this site I think you should demand a full set of cartoon star rating images.

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Dalai

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Edited By Dalai

I hear Rhythm Heaven Fever has 96.5% more wubba dubba dubba. Is that true?

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alex

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Edited By alex

@Dalai: YEH.

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recroulette

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Edited By recroulette

Curse this game for possessing my head when I'm at work. It's all been "Fo sho" and "Babababum" and "IT'S! UP! TO! YOU!" nonstop in my head.

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mewarmo990

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Edited By mewarmo990

ABSOLUTE MUST-SEE:

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SpunkyHePanda

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Edited By SpunkyHePanda

@RecSpec said:

Curse this game for possessing my head when I'm at work. It's all been "Fo sho" and "Babababum" and "IT'S! UP! TO! YOU!" nonstop in my head.

Double up! Two flipper-rolls! Let's go read a buncha books!

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jennoa

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Edited By jennoa

Damn it, I love this game but it has laid bare my total inability to maintain a rhythm.

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Epsilon82

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Edited By Epsilon82

Great review, Alex.

I tried my best to take my time with it, but I blasted through everything in a couple days anyway just because it's so damn addictive that I felt utterly compelled to see everything pronto. Now that I have, there's a bit of melancholy setting in, although there are plenty of medals and perfects to still strive for. Hell, I still haven't even passed Remix 10; that one has my number so far.

Having never played one of these games before, I wondered if my extensive Rock Band drumming experience would pay any dividends here, and I definitely think it did. The Love Rap games and one of the parts of the Prize Fighter game are the only things that gave me any sustained trouble, and even then I didn't fail enough to bring up the "Skip" option (I didn't even know that option existed until reading this review.)

Anyone remotely on the fence should take the plunge ASAP. Unless the game's concept, music, and presentation completely put you off, rest assured the game is WAY more fun than you can possibly conceive beforehand.

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iamjohn

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Edited By iamjohn

@buzz_killington said:

I just want to read all their back stories. The monkey/golfer one was great.

You unlock a transcript of the interview from Ringside if you get a Perfect on it. I will say nothing else but it's incredibly fucking funny.

Also, this is without a doubt my favorite song in the game. Bossa Nova and Monkey Watch are great too, but this is just too good:

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This is easily the best in the series. It's a huge return to form after Rhythm Heaven Gold was kind of a disappointment, and I think I've even enjoyed the music more in Fever on the whole than in the original! If you have a Wii and don't play this game, you are probably a bad person.