Rhythm Heaven Fever is absolutely bizarre.

One of the last major Wii releases, it’s the kind of game that only appeals to a very specific audience. It’s quirky, interesting, and at times also amazingly unforgiving and frustrating.

The game features over 50 rhythm related mini games. For the most part, these games are all relatively ridiculous and feature extremely cute characterized animals, occasionally catchy retro video game music and impossibly difficult rhythm tasks. Some of these mini games are entertaining but there are many that feel like they are almost impossible to complete. I personally commend anyone that’s able to get past the game that forces you to high five cute monkeys on a clock to an impossible beat.

Rhythm Heaven Fever also just might be one of the simplest games I’ve ever played. Every single mini game is controlled by pressing either the Wiimote’s A or B button to the beat of animation and music. Occasionally to spice things up, you’ll have to press both buttons at the same time. Some harder mini games feature alternating beats that seem to require having some sort of formal musical knowledge (otherwise I have no idea how anyone could possible complete them).

At times, having the ability to feel the game’s music is extremely important and some games are impossible to complete if you don’t have this ability. Following auditory and visual cues is also essential to being successful in Rhythm Heaven Fever’s later extremely difficult levels. When a mini game is completed (sometimes this isn’t an easy task) and a required score is achieved, a new game is unlocked.

In many ways, these mini games seem ridiculous, but that’s also part of the game’s charm. For example, one game has you pressing A in time with two monkeys who are continually throwing golf balls at your character. You need to make your character swing his golf club in time with the golf balls. This might sound easy, but it isn’t. In another mini game, your character is sitting on a park bench on a date. All of a sudden soccer balls, footballs and basketballs start bouncing past and you are informed that you need to press A every time a ball zooms past your foot. If you fail, your date leaves the park bench unsatisfied. Neither of these mini games makes sense. They’re crazy, but that’s also why they are so fun.

Figuring out each mini-game’s cadence and beat is Rhythm Heaven Fever’s greatest challenge and at times it becomes ridiculously frustrating. The short tutorial before each mini game starts, often isn’t enough to understand that particular game’s rhythm. When you finally do figure out a game’s beat, Rhythm Heaven Fever becomes a lot of fun.

The title’s art style is colourful and clean, making it stand out from darker grittier music and rhythm based titles like Guitar Hero or Rockband. Graphically, Rhythm Heaven Fever is very simple, but its distinct art direction works in the title’s favour. It adds to the game’s overall quirky feel.

The game also features a multiplayer mode that allows two people to play through the game’s various titles’ mini games. In this mode, bonus points are awarded for how in sync the two players are over the course of the game.

The big problem is that it’s not really much of a comprehensive video game in the traditional sense. It’s more of a collection of various rhythm fueled strange mini-games and the kind of title you might find in the Android or iPhone appstore. This makes justifying the title’s $29.99 budget price a little difficult. In the end, Rhythm Heaven Fever offers a unique experience and I’ve never played a game quite like it.

Overall Score: 7/10

Judgment: Buy it! But only if you’re into music/rhythm games


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This article was also featured in the Financial Post.