I feel like I should have more to say about Rhythm Heaven. It’s a rhythm game; I like rhythm games. It has quirky Japanese music and images; I like quirky Japanese music and images. It’s a small-scale experiment that was quite popular in Japan; I’m all for that sort of thing.

But I don’t have much to say. I played the game, I liked it okay, I didn’t like it as much as I expected. Part of that has to do with the progression mechanic: you have to finish each stage before progressing to the next one, and there isn’t clear feedback on what you did wrong. So when I found myself stuck at a stage where things just weren’t going right, I just got annoyed. Having said that, I didn’t have much trouble making it through all the regular stages; but I didn’t have the energy to either systematically get bonuses on the stages to unlock further rewards or to go through the harder versions of the stages that appear after you hit the credits. (At least I assume that all the stages after the credits are harder versions, I stopped after the first one, where I did what seemed decently well to me but not well enough to progress. Which is another way that the game doesn’t give you feedback: if you fail, you don’t know how close you were.)

The images and music were pleasant enough, amusing enough. Several of the pieces of music got stuck in my head, but that’s not necessarily a good thing: in particular, this happened to me with the very first stage, whose “music” consists of playing five notes of a scale over and over again. I have no idea why my brain decided to latch on to that, but I don’t particularly thank my brain or the game for that outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy enough to have spent a few hours with it, but I’m also glad that I stopped when I did and moved on.

Not much discussion of the game on the blogosphere, but I did enjoy this Offworld article on otaku culture.

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