Elite Beat Agents is a new rhythm-based game exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Players tap and rhythmically drag the DS stylus on the touch sensitive screen to participate in this quirky but addicting title.
The zany premise of this game is that there's a special secret agency called the Elite Beat Agents (EBA), which exists to help the downtrodden. To visualize the EBA, think "Men-in-Black" meets John Travolta's "Saturday Night Fever." When this secret agency detects a plea for help, three EBA agents (dressed in black and wearing shades) magically appear and start dancing. With the players' help, the EBA dance their way to healing whatever ails the person or animal in need.
Each of the stories of need is presented on the top screen of the Nintendo DS in the form of a manga-style comic strip. For example, in one, the EBA helps a lost dog find his way home. In another, the EBA takes over a high school girl's babysitting duties so that she can sweet-talk her football player boyfriend into going steady. The outcome of each story is tied to how well the player is able to keep rhythm while the EBA dances to create energy. Each episode has three possible endings, which relate to the amount of energy produced (in terms of points).
Jamming with the men in black happens by executing three different moves using the DS stylus. The most common move involves tapping a sequence of numbered dots. The lower screen will fill up with numbered dots that have larger timing circles surrounding them. When the timing circle shrinks to surround the dot, you should tap the dot. The tapping of the dots corresponds to the beat of the music, and completing sequences gains more points. Other dots are connected to drag bars, which require you to tap and then keep the stylus touching the ball as it journeys across the bar. The third move requires you to create a circular motion to make a spinner move. How well you execute these moves affects how you fill your Elite-o-Meter. If the meter runs out, the good-deed-doing is over, and the EBA fails at their mission.
Hearing the witty dialogue in the comic strips and watching the charismatic agents dance greatly contribute to this title's fun. The game does a good job of tying in both oldies and current pop songs (from the Rolling Stones to Sum 41) to the story lines. The game also offers a lot of longevity. In the single-player mode, players can explore the 19 songs in three levels of difficulty. The multiplayer mode lets players cooperate or compete, depending on whether players are sharing one software card or if each has his or her own.
The easy level is accessible to anyone, but the harder levels are devilishly challenging. This game fits best with kids 10 years and older, because the humor created by the exaggerated storylines will be lost on younger kids. Also, some of the story lines are inappropriate for the younger set because they feature scantily glad women with jiggling breasts, and a story of the loss of a parent.
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