Rhythm Heaven Megamix (3DS) Review

A Musical Slice of Heaven

Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the 4th game in the Rhythm Heaven series. Like its predecessors, RHM features plenty of quirky, musical minigames that test your ability to follow a beat. Although the game is filled with a breadth of enjoyable content, a sizable portion of it is borrowed from the first 3 games in the series. While it’s unfortunate that this game is mostly a best-of compilation, new challenges and repurposed minigames give both newcomers and veterans a reason to get back into the rhythm.

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Brand new rhythm games join classic favorites in one portable compilation!

Gameplay

The gameplay of RHM centers on rhythm games, in which you press buttons to the beat of the song. The games vary, both in terms of playstyle and music. Some games have you follow simple cues that go along with the song while others ask you to keep a steady beat throughout. All are easy to learn and require very simple button presses (or as an option, touchscreen taps). As the games become harder, the inputs become more complicated, asking you to press different buttons for each cue. The timing eventually becomes harder, introducing syncopated, faster tempos to throw you off. Thankfully, before you begin each game for the first time, a helpful tutorial ensures that you get the hang of its particular beat, cues, and instructions. For veterans who want to dive straight in, the tutorials are skippable.

RHM_wrestler
Rhythm Heaven Megamix is out in the west? Wubba dubba dubba that’s true!

The rhythm games are all fairly short, with the average song lasting one to two minutes. These bite-sized intervals are perfect for quick portable sessions. Additionally, the short lengths allow you to practice and improve. RHM grades your performance on a “Flow” meter, with Flow measuring how many beats you accurately hit and how close you are to a perfect beat. Built-in feedback stars on the bottom screen indicate how close you were to hitting the notes. A colorful array of stars shine from the middle if you got the beat perfectly. Otherwise, yellow stars will appear closer to the left or right sides depending on if you were too early or too late. Getting the minimum 60 Flow to conquer a game is pretty simple with the feedback stars guiding you. Since the game also rewards “superb” ratings for getting at least 80 Flow, the feedback stars are excellent additions that serve to improve your timing and sense of rhythm.

Part of what makes RHM stand out is the quirky nature of the rhythm games. Each game has a unique premise that drives the rhythm. For instance, you may play as a “Karate Man,” punching and kicking oncoming objects to the beat. Other games have you in a spaceship shooting at enemy ships, playing badminton with a cat on a plane, or pulling beard hairs off of a mustached onion using tweezers. Some of the games are so ridiculous that they’ll likely make you laugh while playing.

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Realistic scenarios such as using tweezers to pluck beard hairs off a mustached onion.

For veterans of the Rhythm Heaven series, it is important to note that roughly 70% of this game is recycled content from the first 3 games. This may be disappointing for those hoping for a new full game. Since most westerners would have missed out on at least one of the games, especially the Japan-only Game Boy Advance entry, Rhythm Tengoku, this isn’t such a bad deal. In fact, as a best-of compilation, RHM is effective at offering nearly every game a fan could have wanted, all in one complete portable package. Plus, the brand new rhythm games are some of the most stellar ideas ever devised. Highlights that will put a smile on your face include cats contorting their bodies to gather logs for a muscular woodcutter fox, an 8-bit samurai slicing pixelated enemies on a skateboard, and perhaps the best new idea of all: a pair of huge sumo wrestlers wackily slapping each other and making amazing poses, all to a Japanese folk song. The only disappointment is that we don’t get a full game filled with more of these outstanding ideas.

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One of the best new games in the series: Sumo Brothers!

RHM is the first game in the series to have a story mode. It’s a goofy tale of an afro bear trying to get to Heaven World. Unfortunately, it slows the game down with strange, pointless interactions, and the dialogue tries too hard to be funny. In an attempt to ease players into the story, the first 24 games are watered down versions, designed to be tutorials. After getting past this slow start, RHM reuses the games from the initial sets, using the proper full-length musical track. This results in redundant gameplay. Another way that story mode hinders the game is through mandatory boss trials, in which you must pay gold coins earned from successfully completing rhythm games. These challenges are less dependent on music and more focused on precise timing. If you fail, you must pay more coins just to try again, introducing a tedious grinding system that has no place in this series.

On a more positive note, the most interesting aspect of Rhythm Heaven returns here: Remixes. As the name suggests, Remixes take older songs, accompanied by their specific rules, and mashes them up into one cohesive song. With almost no breaks, Remixes take you from game to game, testing your mastery of the beat and cues that you should have learned throughout your experience. Everything happens so rapidly, invoking the style of this developer’s other hit series, WarioWare. The thrill of reacting instantly to a new ruleset every few seconds effectively rounds out Megamix’s package.

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Good sense of timing and quick reflexes will bring success.

Music & Sound

Music is understandably important for a rhythm-based game, and RHM delivers. Nearly all of the songs are catchy. You may even find yourself bopping your head and tapping your toes to the music. While the gameplay is certainly enjoyable, it’s the music that makes this game worthwhile. All of the music is completely original to the series and composed by prolific songwriter Tsunku.

There are plenty of different genres represented, from pop to rock and even tango. The music most shines when there are vocals, which sound good enough to be played on the radio or in an anime. Although I wish there were more vocal arrangements, the ones included are enough to satiate most musical appetites, especially when combined with the other fun tunes. As a bonus, you can switch between English and Japanese audio tracks in the settings.

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Don’t be surprised if some songs get stuck in your head!

The sound effects are also very effective in prompting your beats and providing feedback. Most games have cues in the forms of bells, whistles, or vocal commands to guide your rhythm. When you hit the beats, your sound effects will be a part of the song. If you miss a beat, a “boing” sound plays to let you know that you’re off.

Graphics

The artstyle is consistently fun and cartoonish. The graphics also lend themselves well to the humorous premises of each rhythm game. Some are so laughter-inducing that it may even be distracting. In fact, RHM purposefully tries to distract you with the graphics so that you don’t become dependent on the visual cues. Occasionally, your vision of the action on-screen will become obscured or distorted, forcing you to rely on the audio. Other times, the game goes for cheap, but effective laughs, like having wrestlers make ridiculous poses directly at the camera. The humor is all in good fun, and is part of what gives the game its charm.

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What could possibly even be happening here?

Replayability

Story mode takes you through the majority of the games, roughly lasting 3-5 hours. Despite its short length, RHM sports an impressive amount of replay value. Merely trying to get a superb rating on each game, which requires at least 80 Flow, can take another several hours. Achieving the difficult 100 Flow requires constant perfect beats, but will increase replay value tenfold for the determined. With over 70 unique games, there are plenty of songs to master.

Challenge mode repurposes existing games for added excitement. Perfect Challenge is a returning mode where you must go through a whole song without missing a beat. However, you only have three attempts before the Perfect Challenge expires. If you fail, you will have to wait until the next Perfect Challenge randomly pops up. The next challenge may be for a different game altogether, making practice difficult. Even worse, you can’t earn a perfect rating by just playing the game in story mode. You must earn it through this 3-strikes mode. While it’s certainly a worthy challenge and one that will make you feel proud upon completion, it’s too stressful and punishing. Limiting it to three tries makes it devastating if you lose, and the pressure alone can lead to failure.

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Perfect Challenges can be stressful, but rewarding.

Challenge Train is a more enjoyable experience that is brand new to the series. In this mode, you face a set of three rhythm games, each with certain conditions. For example, some games require you to get a certain amount of Flow while others ask you to get less than three missed beats. Sometimes, the songs’ tempos are faster than usual. This mode can be played multiplayer using multiple carts or the convenient single-cart download play. This turns it into a cooperative mode in which all players must collectively achieve a certain level of flow. Everyone plays at the same time on their own screen, but indicators tell you how your friends are handling the beat, introducing a competitive flair.

Finally, a café acts as your hub when you want to relax from the story. Here, you can feed turnips to a goat in a calm pachinko minigame. StreetPass mode pits you against a CPU controlled Mii in a head-to-head rhythm boxing competition. The StreetPass is limited since you don’t actually face any human opponents, but it’s a nice inclusion that also informs you of a passerby’s favorite game and overall Flow level. You can also buy goodies at the shop, including new rhythm games. These bonus games aren’t part of the story and can be played at any time. However, they cost rare Flow Balls, only gained from completing challenges. You gain very few balls from a single challenge, and rhythm games are pretty expensive, making the unlocking process overly tiresome.

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Nintendo released this game as a surprise launch during E3 2016. The bigger surprise is that all of these odd characters can exist in one game!

Conclusion

Rhythm Heaven Megamix is a very entertaining game that comes with own set of flaws. A story mode and a long tutorial hinder the game’s pace, while a reliance on grinding makes this game feel longer than it needs to be. Being a compilation game is a mixed bag, but will overall please anyone looking for a rhythm fix. The majority of games, especially the brand new ones, are nothing but enjoyable. Hilarious graphics and toe-tapping music guarantee smiles and laughter throughout. Challenges and multiplayer keep the game alive long after the credits roll. If you’re a fan of the series, this game is a worthy purchase, offering portable versions of your favorites while delivering some of the best new songs ever produced in this series. If you haven’t played any game in the series before and enjoy music games, then Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the gold standard, filled to the brim with wacky entertainment and musical pleasure.

Score: 8/10

What are your thoughts on Rhythm Heaven Megamix? Do you have any fond memories of the Rhythm Heaven series? What is your favorite rhythm game in the series? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below!

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20 thoughts on “Rhythm Heaven Megamix (3DS) Review

  1. Reblogged this on The News, Reviews & Personal Views Website On All Things Nintendo and commented:

    Hey everyone! Mr. Panda here! During E3 2016’s Treehouse Live stream, Nintendo surprised its audience by stealth launching the long-awaited Rhythm Heaven Megamix! Featuring a huge collection of rhythm minigames, catchy music, and a wacky ensemble of characters, Rhythm Heaven Megamix is sure to delight. Find out all about it in my review of this quirky 3DS game, and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rhythm Heaven Megamix is definitely the one to start with, even worth being your ultimate copy. This game includes everything you would want if you’re brand new to the series, plus it’s portable. Definitely give it a try if you have even a passing interest at the concept! Thanks for commenting too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! Nice concise overview of the highlights and pertinent points. It’s good to know that this is mostly a compilation game. It’s not obvious from the title alone. The descriptions of the zany antics they employ made me chuckle. It sounds like a lot of fun. Will check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot! I appreciate your kind words! Rhythm Heaven Megamix is so hilarious, but almost too difficult to describe in words. You really have to experience the rhythm games to see just how ridiculous it really is. It’s great. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of the series until I read your review so it’s safe to assume this game was not on my radar. After reading your review, I’d colour myself intrigued! So job well done! I like how it’s based on rhythm centric games and it seems that each one is distinctly unique. It’s been a long long time since I played a rhythm game so maybe I’ll give this one a try, and since I haven’t played any subsequent entries in its series, RHM should feel relatively fresh and nuanced which is exciting! If the music caters to the JPop/JRock and anime scene – which I’m a big fan of – then musically this game will resonate with me immensely. Maybe I’ll check out some gameplay on YouTube to get a feel for it tonally. Very insightful review friend! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much for your extremely kind words! I truly appreciate it! I’m glad you’re interested in it! Since you haven’t played any previous entries, the whole game will be new for you, which is just perfect. There are a handful of different genres represented, including some vocal J-Pop & J-Rock songs. You might like some of the Remix tracks since you’re a fan of the aforementioned music. The nonvocal songs are solid too, with playful takes on various musical styles. Every game is indeed a fresh experience, which is what makes the game so interesting. You never really know what’s coming next! Thanks again for your comments! Let me know what you think if you ever decide to pick it up!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. RHM is definitely the one to try if you haven’t played any of the other games, since it’s essentially a compilation! If you’ve ever played any other rhythm games, you’ll feel right at home. And even if you haven’t, RHM is pretty accessible, especially with the tutorial in the beginning. If you ever decide to try it out, let me know what you think! Thanks for your comments!

      I should also mention that there’s a demo no the North American eShop that you can try to get a taste. I don’t know exactly which games are in the demo, but it will give you an idea on how the game is played.

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  4. I’m travelling for Independence Day and need a handheld game, so I may download this. I’ve always been interested in the series, but I’ve never tried it, so a “best of” collection suits my needs fine. Thanks for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! Thank you so much for the comments! This is a perfect game to travel with, just as long as you bring headphones or can otherwise play with music on. As a “best of” collection, RHM gathers nearly every game from the entire series, so this is definitely the one to get! Let me know what you think of it if you get it!

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  5. Good review! I am not familiar with this series myself but it seems like a lot of fun! Cool that you shed light on something obscure like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, gorgo! It’s a lot of fun, and despite not being one of Nintendo’s top titles, it is developed by the same team that develops the more popular WarioWare games. It’s worth a try, and with a demo now available on the eShop, you can check it out for yourself!

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    1. Aww, do you mean the DS one or the original Rhythm Tengoku for Game Boy Advance? Rhythm Heaven Megamix is on the easier side because it gives you instant feedback to figure out the rhythm, especially if you get off track. Also, there’s quite a bit of tutorial near the beginning to help get used to hearing the beats. It’s way easier for me than Rhythm Heaven on the DS simply because you can use buttons instead of tapping and flicking (this was always difficult for me!) with the stylus.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DS one. But I really have no sense of rhythm. But at least with buttons, I have a chance. If there’s a demo, maybe I’ll try it to see if I can handle it. Really like the visuals though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aww. You’re in luck though because there is a demo for Rhythm Heaven Megamix on the eShop so you can try it out and see how you do! The visuals are so fun and cute. It has a delightful charm to it.

        Liked by 1 person

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