Put on your dancing pants; it’s a Rhythm Fighter review coming your way that will determine if its got moves tighter than a tiger, or your dad dancing at a wedding reception. In clogs.
When I first played Rhythm Fighter, it was a little different to how I imagined. Ok, I didn’t imagine much, but I was under the assumption that I’d play this for a few hours then likely to bail through frustration or boredom. I like being proved wrong when my initial impressions are more on the negative side.
First of all, this is a rhythm game, and not just a, ha, clever title. It’s a 2D side-scroller of a game that looks very pretty, but that’s usually a sign of a Flash-like game that’s all bells and whistles, but zero substance. That isn’t the case here, and there’s enough challenge and incentive to play the game for more than those initial hours.
Rhythm Fighter Review
There’s a story worth sharing. Well, it won’t change your life, but it’s a background story to support the action, though it’s not needed. A classic good versus evil plight, Commander Chaos has arrived on Earth, and with his Dark Beat Energy, turns all the vegetables on the planet into his corrupt servants.
Justification for kids not eating their greens: the greens will eat them.
As expected, he has an opposite – Mr. Disco, who uses Light Beat Energy and enlists a team of heroes to fight this ponce from Beatara (it’s true, I saw in a documentary). They’re an animal squad made up of a variety of professions; DJs, chefs, cub scouts… each bringing their style to the battle.
It’s a rogue-like of sorts as you have to tackle a sequence of stages until you beat the final boss. Unless you’re a professional dancer or good at these games, expect to repeat levels repeatedly to level up to match your opponents.
Coconut Island get this, and as a result, instead of repeating the same vanilla stage each time, you play a random one, and once you complete it, the next area will differ from the last. There aren’t so many stages as such, but this variety ensures the game doesn’t get too predictable.
You Got Served
The stages have a particular theme from forests to deserts, but the layouts are mostly the same as your move from left to right, taking a few different paths here and there by pressing ‘U’ on the keyboard.
Each goal in the main campaign is to beat Commander Chaos but to get to him, you have to get through the small (stir) fry of carrots and runner beans. At the end of each stage is a boss of sorts, growing more difficult as you progress.
Much like Crypt of the NecroDancer, you have to move in time with the beat, as well as attack. The controls aren’t complicated, but in practice, they can be quite tricky as you have dedicated keys to face either left or right then a host of actions such as attack, move and roll, then the action key and two power-ups.
Movement is straightforward enough, but unlike similar rhythm games, timing is a little more forgiving, and you can still move and inflict damage on the enemies, however, getting perfect timing is the best route.
Rolling usually gets past larger enemies and bosses, but you’ll find a lot of environmental hazards in your way too that can only be bypassed by rolling through. Unless you want to sacrifice your health. With the other power-ups, these can range from defensive moves to offensive buffs, and they can either be collected through the loot after each section or buying from a merchant.
There are two currencies in the game – stars are awarded to upgrade your characters, and coins are for buying health or power-ups from the merchants found in-game, though there are a few that will give you items in exchange for your health.
Each time you die (it’ll happen, chill) you’ll lose your gear and return to the lobby where you can do multiple things such as the daily challenge, look at a bestiary of sorts, fight endless enemies of a specific type and start with weapons at the start of a stage.
The key area is the character selection as you can choose from a variety of animals, like the Courier Penguin, and upgrade their stats with the stars you’re awarded. With each character, they have abilities such as having better timing than the others, evasive techniques or getting stronger from consuming food.
The more you defeat enemies or complete certain feats, you’re awarded trophies from an achievement list. In turn, this unlocks new features and characters for you to play with, though some of them are hard graft like spending 30,000 coins in a wishing well, found on some of the stages.
What can you take away from this? That Rhythm Fighter is a grind. You can expect to repeat levels again and again, making marginal gains. But the best part is it never feels like a chore and an enjoyable game.
I like rhythm games, but I’m not any good at them. This past week or so, two have come along that are both challenging but have a degree of accessibility and enjoyment, that I keep coming back to them.
That other title was Double Kick Heroes. Read the review here.
Like the title above, you can also add custom tracks. I went out of my way and ripped Master of Puppets by Metallica. Yeah, it doesn’t go with the visual style, but when it came on it was pretty exciting. Unfortunately, though, the timing was way off, and I kept messing up. The game does recommend tracks with prominent drum and bass. Roni Size it is, eh Grandad?