While the WarioWare series seems to change from instalment to instalment as each format’s particular gimmicks demand, it’s reassuring to see the WarioWare team’s other minigame collection, Rhythm Paradise, stick closely to its original proven formula. This is still a series of rhythm-based challenges using only one or two buttons, it still asks you to overcome a series of five games before remixing them all into one epic medley, and it still has the greatest sense of humour in modern gaming. So what’s different about Beat The Beat? It’s simply that much better.
Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise looks better than ever, for a start. Its high-res 2D visuals are so crisp, clean and colourful that they look practically HD. And it sounds better too. Having responded to criticism of 2008’s DS game, Nintendo’s localisers have kept the tunes as close to the Japanese originals as possible, and even those tracks with lyrics have been expertly re-recorded to retain both meaning and humour without changing the beat. And, finally, the game is funnier. Kicking footballs away to keep both your date and two romantically involved gophers undisturbed or juggling interview questions with photo ops as a post-fight luchador are just two examples of the mirthful situations Beat The Beat puts you in.
Even in the more ordinary minigames, Rhythm Paradise raises big belly laughs through its incredible capacity to surprise. Nintendo understands that the nature of rhythm-action is founded on repetition, and it’s those rare, unexpected breaks from that repetition that provoke a chuckle and inject a little extra challenge. The ghost slashing Samurai Slice, for example, really comes into its own when it decides to tell a pictorial backstory, mid-game, gradually obscuring the action over time and forcing you to rely on your ears alone. It’s tricky enough even before you distract yourself with the giggles.
Like previous Rhythm Paradise games, Beat The Beat does get very difficult at times, especially when it switches between beats and off-beats, asking you to go against your natural rhythmic instincts. But under the guiding hand of a post-Wii Nintendo, it’s impossible to get bottlenecked. Pre-game tutorials do a good job of establishing the rules of each minigame but there’s also a help system that offers perfect play videos as well as hints and tips. Finally there’s an option to skip any game, but the help system, represented by a helpful bartender, sometimes pretends to be busy to encourage you to go back and have one more try.
Such considered balancing shows that Nintendo has settled into a groove that both hardcore and casual players can appreciate, making Beat The Beat: rhythm Paradise a game that anybody can, and will, enjoy. It’s like Wii Music never happened.