It should be noted that I have no rhythm; at least, I don’t anymore. Once upon a time, in years gone by, I would be at the arcade playing DDR fairly often, or sitting around my bedroom regularly playing Rockband or Guitar Hero. I wasn’t exactly a champion of cadence, my flow was never flawless, but I was at least better than how I performed with Rhythm Paradise Megamix. Indeed, my performance during a significant amount of the game was not unlike a flailing laboratory chimp mid-experiment, with just as much screeching, slapping uncontrollably at my DS. This isn’t to say that Rhythm Paradise Megamix is bad by any measure, I just want you all to know where I’m coming from with this. While I can barely follow a beat to save myself, I still enjoyed my time with Rhythm Paradise Megamix immensely, with but only a few irritants.
Like sucking out loud. At everything. And out of tune.
There is a narrative of sorts, but it’s the one of the strangest, most distracted stories I’ve ever played. Falling from Heaven world, Tibby is a weird, fair-floss haired, easily excitable bear-thing that gets lost on… Earth? I guess it’s Earth, it’s never actually specified. Players take the role of a nameless good Samaritan, trying to help Tibby get home by reaching a tower that should get him home. On your journey, you’ll encounter doors so large they can’t just be opened, and so you have to return “flow” to the home of the guardian of each door, allowing you to continue. It’s not exactly award winning stuff, but it’s entertaining nonetheless and provides a loose connection for all the random mini-games you’re playing.
It’s unsurprising to learn that the developers of the Rhythm Heaven series (of which, this is the fifth entry) are the same developers for the Wario Ware games. The characters all carry the same kind of charm as the Wario Ware characters, and there’s a similar level of non-sequitur disconnect between each world as those games had. The only criticism I’d have with the worlds are presented is that the mini-games don’t follow the theme set out by each world’s character. For instance, the second world door is closed off by a mechanic with a car for a head (I wouldn’t think too hard on that), so you’d expect all his mini-games would be centred around machine-themed games. The mini-games are just randomly thrown in without much thought given to the idea of a consistent theme, however, and that just bugged me throughout the game.
There wasn’t really a vegetable themed area, though, so I’m not sure where this guy would have fit in. Maybe in Barbershop World?
Starting out, the mini-games are presented as challenges that need to be beaten to progress through each world, and this is basically the only way you can play them at first. Each game has a minimum score requirement to pass it, rewarding you with coins for how well you perform, and some additional objectives for extra coins at the end. Eventually, a cafe will open up (run by a headphone, beat-loving dog), where you can spend coins on unlockables, and also has a connected museum where you can play games you’ve already beaten. There’s also a ball drop game in here where you launch onions through a pinball-like obstacle maze to feed a goat, which unlocks mascots every ten levels (I still don’t know what they do.) Eventually, there’s a challenge train mode that you can unlock, as well, which has you play a group of games that, oddly enough, have more thematic cohesion than the “campaign” mode.
The challenge train is also where the multiplayer comes into it, which is also my biggest complaint area. You can play the game via download play, which is awesome, but there is so much waiting. There’s a long initial wait for other player(s) to download the game information, and then extra waiting time to download every single mini-game before you play them. It’s a good way to kill the vibe of quickly progressing through games. In fact, this is probably something that could apply to most of the game, in general. There’s a lot of unnecessary waiting for everything that happens, from passing a mini-game to failing one. It’s tough to maintain a rhythm when you’re forced to sit through a lot of unskippable animations.
Though sometimes they’re kind of hypnotic and you don’t mind sitting through them…
The mini-games themselves are (for the most part) a lot of fun, with a few major exceptions that I’d rather just forget about. And by a few, I actually mean about sixty percent of them. I guess it’s obvious that everyone will have mini-games they’re naturally better at than others, and some that they’d be not so great at, but there are a lot that I had a lot of trouble with. This comes back to the fact that I have all the musical talent of a tone-deaf sea cucumber, but the upside is a lot of them can be passed with rote learning and constant repeat plays. That’s… That’s an upside for me, I’m not sure what it says about the game.
One other frustrating aspect is that you’re forced to successfully pass the “practice round” of each mini-game the first time you play it. This is before you’re allowed to make an attempt at the actual mini-game itself. Rather than having the music you’ll be hearing within the mini-game proper, the practice rounds just provide a basic beat to follow while you’re learning how each mini-game is played. Again, I’m a special case here, but I actually found the practice rounds to be much more challenging than the actual games. Maybe it’s because the beat of the music adds something to help, or perhaps it’s because the musicless beat somehow compounds the off-putting visuals. Either way, an option to skip past the practice round, and go straight to the game would have been very much appreciated.
The dancing cats were easily the funniest, and most off-putting part of the entire game. I could watch them dance forever though.
As I said just now, the visuals actually attempt to put you off of your flow when playing, which is a deliberate choice on the developers’ part as far as I can tell. The idea behind this is that you’re meant to focus more on the rhythm of each mini-game’s song, as opposed to what’s happening on-screen. I’ll praise the music here because, aside from being rad to listen to, closing my eyes and trying to follow the beat actually worked out better for me in some cases over watching the animations. The animations in each level are also great, using the same kind of cartoon style visuals that are found in the Wario Ware games. A lot of it is actually hilarious, and more than a few times I failed a level because I was caught off guard by the weird, hilarious stuff that happens in some of the games. It’s a good fit for the style of gameplay, and makes it more difficult to completely lose your nut at things that look so cute. You know, after you fail the same game for the tenth time in a row.
I’m not going to lie here, I didn’t actually finish the single player campaign. The mini-games reached such a level of difficulty that I likely would have been putting this review out in 2017 if I had waited until I completed it. However, this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the game, it’s more a criticism of myself, and my terrible ability to follow even the simplest of rhythms. Aside from some minor complaints about the loading times during download play, and the length of the post-game animations, there’s not a lot to fault here. The practice rounds are generally a pain, but they’re not enough to ruin the experience overall. Rhythm Paradise Megamix has a great sense of humour, genuinely fun (if difficult) mini-games, excellent music, and great animations. If you’re even slightly musically inclined, I can heartily recommend this. If you aren’t, and you still want to play this, then I hope you’re into masochism.
Adendum: It’s been pointed out to me that you’re able to skip the practice modes for each mini-game through a start menu option while they’re playing. While this is good to know, the game itself didn’t exactly make it clear to the player. Me. I’m the player. Stupid practice mode…