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Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise review: A perfect Wii send-off

The console's last big game is bizarrely brilliant

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Rhythm Paradise's music - all of it original or inherited from its GBA/DS daddies - is consistently awesome: a belting soundtrack of hummable pop, electronica, rap, bossa nova and vocalised J-pop that leaves you wishing every level lasted longer. Remember these three phrases: 1. "Bo-bom-bom-bom" 2. "Tweet twe-twe-tweet tweet SQUAWK". "Pose for the fans... HARRGH". Because after 6 July, you'll be humming them every time you boil the kettle or wait for the bus.

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We're still noticing little visual details - like the assorted characters that leap to catch your booted balls in Double Date - long after we first played the Japanese version (which was a full year ago, Nintendo - what the hell happened?). We're not convinced that the sparse line drawings quite work on Wii: there's something a bit 'empty' about the lack of detail at such high definition. But the animation and laughs packed into the many different scenarios is glorious.

As Rhythm Paradise progresses, it gets tougher in ways that leave you smiling knowingly (and shaking your fist angrily) at the smartness of Sakamoto's team. The Remix levels mash together the stages in cruel, unusual ways. And Beat The Beat understands that your rhythm-actioning ability is determined as much by your eyes as by your ears - so the game's cheeky tricks include blocking your view with roving characters, or just zooming the camera in and out. In catchy series regular Built To Scale, it even slows the music down to a crawl, which - as any drummer will tell you - is a guaranteed way to ratchet up the difficulty.

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MISSING MARKS

So why has the number in the red circle stalled just before the big nine-oh? We're not scoring Beat The Beat down for the limp two-player mode, with its inadvisable amount of turn-taking, because that hardly matters. Rhythm Paradise has always been best as a solo experience, headphones on and volume so high that your ears write to the council.

No, we're docking points partly because Remix 10 is the only real remix the game has - by which we mean that unlike the preceding 'boss' stages, it pick-and-mixes the actual music from each stage, rather than bringing its own dedicated tune. As such, it's the purest, toughest, most gratifying celebration of everything the game has done so far - and, unfortunately, leaves you wanting much, much more. We're also disappointed that despite the game being as fussy as a Strictly judge about your finger-dancing - the final stages pretty much demand perfection - it never tells you exactly how you did. There's vague feedback ("You did well on that tricky bit at the end") and an overall 'Flow' rating that creeps up like a personal share price, but nothing detailed.

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You do at least get a burgeoning sense of how the game's cold robot brain is calculating your passes and fails: early errors are clearly forgiven; flubbing the big A+B moves is most certainly not. But the tougher remixes will leave you befuddled as to exactly which near-miss let you down. The pigs-on-swivel-chairs stage is one we've got a particular beef with (or 'pork with', hoho) - even near-flawless runs seem to produce the mournful music of defeat.
And we're still stuck with a Rhythm Paradise feature even more baffling than mandrills acting as golf caddies: the level tutorials come up before every attempt, every time, forever. At least it's skippable. But we're nitpicking. Beat The Beat is brilliant. And it's arrived at just the right time: in this relatively quiet pre-Wii U period, none of you have any excuse not to go out and grab it. We need more games like this. It's bursting with imagination, smiles and - like Brain Training - an admirable mission to improve its players. It must not be missed. Just be warned: it will send you as batty as its designer.

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The verdict

Beat The Beat's sound director says he thinks about the game even when he's in the bath or using the toilet. So will you. Sparkling brilliance, gleefully insanity - just needs more remixes.

  • An impressively clever is hidden behind the visuals
  • Genuinely funny throughout
  • Perfect controls married to great music
  • Needed a better feedback mechanic
  • Limp two-player mode
8.9
Format
Nintendo Wii
Developer
Nintendo
Publisher
Nintendo
Genre
Rhythm Action, Mini Games, Party

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