Rhythm Heaven Fever is the second in the "Rhythm Heaven" game series introduced in the United States from Nintendo, and the first that is playable on the Wii. It is very similar in structure to the 2009 "Rhythm Heaven" Nintendo DS game in that it is filled with over 50 mini-games that challenge you to keep the beat in zany and unusual circumstances. It features unique mini-games that vary greatly: in one you rhythmically stab at peas with a fork as they zip past you; whereas in another, you swing at golf balls tossed to you by a monkey.
Each of the mini-games is short, with most taking about 2-3 minutes to complete. The characters are cartoony and comical; and most of the gameplay situations are interesting and bizarre. Some of the mini-games are really fun to play and provide you with the ability to zone into the beat to do things like kick soccer balls or screw heads on robots. But others just don't work right, like the one where you are asked to shake a tambourine to the beat by tapping on the "A" button, and then switch to banging it by hitting both the "A" and "B" buttons simultaneously. At times, the buttons on the Wii remote don't register your actions fast enough, so it is very difficult to be successful at this activity.
This rhythm game collection could have been a blast if it had been structured differently. Quick quirky mini-games can always find an audience on the Wii, which is why the "WarioWare" games have been so popular. But mini-games like these need to be accessible right from the start, so that players can jump right in to explore the silliness.
Instead of giving players a selection of mini-games to explore, Rhythm Heaven Fever opens with just one mini-game. It's a golfing game about timing your swing to hit golf balls that are tossed to you. The balls lobbed by the little monkey are easy to hit; but instead of just letting you warm up this way, the mini-game also introduces "fast balls" thrown by a mandrill monkey and interchanges these two pitchers. Achieving the passing score needed to unlock the next game will probably take repeated practice; so you will want to steel yourself to frequently see the "Try Again" screen. And there is no progress bar on the screen to let you know how you are doing.
But your woes don't stop there. Instead of simply opting to try again (as suggested on the screen when you fail), you are sent back to the tutorial where it will take you multiple clicks before you can once again try the mini-game.
If you survive the frustration of the first mini-game, an in-game cafe will open up and the barista will monitor your future progress through the game, offering you the ability to skip a particularly difficult mini-game after having failed it repeatedly.
Other options are also unlocked as you play through the game such as rhythm toys, new music, unending games and the two-player mode. In the latter, two players compete head to head on the same screen using two remotes. However, unlocking some of these options won't mean anything until you play the mini-games with such precision that you earn medals. The medals are needed to activate things like new music and rhythm toys. Again, the game is completely tied into being really accurate, a goal many players will never have the patience to attain.
Another beef with the structure of this game is that it doesn't provide any way to adjust the difficulty level. There is nothing wrong with making a level challenging for a select audience; but, if you do that, also make a level that is playable for kids and casual gamers.
Also puzzling, is the complete lack of motion controls. Playing on the Wii is all about using the Wii remote to create movements. This game is played using the Wii remotes' buttons and does not let players feel the beat by moving their controllers. It's a shame.
The Bottom Line
Unless you relish the challenge of an exceedingly difficult rhythm game, skip this game. If you are looking for a family music game, try bringing the funk with rhythm games like LEGO Rock Band, The Beatles: Rock Band, Let's Tap and Elite Beat Agents.
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