A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rhythm Heaven Fever is a collection of quick, music-themed mini-games that requires players to keep beats of varying speed and cadence. It may help foster an interest in music, and, particularly, rhythm. Parents of vision-impaired kids should note that many of the mini-games included are suitable for the blind and provide audio cues that will help sightless players perform as well as any sighted child. Note, though, that many of the activities are very challenging, even for older players with plenty of music game experience.
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What's it about?
There’s no story in RHYTHM HEAVEN FEVER, a collection of rhythm-themed mini-games for Nintendo Wii. Instead, players work through a series of more than 50 activities, unlocking new challenges by mastering others. It starts with a golf game in which players tap the A-button on their remotes to hit balls that are tossed to them in rhythm by a pair of apes. Beat this challenge and you’ll suddenly find yourself screwing heads onto robots on an assembly line by pressing two buttons in time with the music. Then you’ll control a stickman hopping on a seesaw, pressing the A-button each time he lands on the board. A passing performance will unlock the next event, while a near-perfect medal-earning performance goes toward unlocking additional activities, including bonus modes and “rhythm toys.” While few of the games last more than a couple of minutes, they’re challenging enough that mastering and unlocking all activities will likely take most players days or weeks.
Is it any good?
This one’s a bit of an odd duck. Transforming a whacky activity like pilots playing badminton in the sky into a rhythm challenge that requires only a single button is downright brilliant. The game’s simplicity is inspired. When you’re in the zone it can be enormous fun, and satisfying in a way that only the best, purest game experiences are. Plus, the video game-y music is often wonderfully catchy. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing some of its simple ditties after a single session.
However, there’s one big hurdle keeping it from being a true standout: Difficulty. This seems like a game that should be great fun for the whole family, but its difficulty is tuned to older, hardcore gamers. Most younger kids (and even some grown-ups) will get fed up failing activities over and over again, unable to progress to the next game. Players ought to have been provided multiple difficulty levels. A scoring meter would help, too, so that players understand how their performance is being judged and can see how close (or far) they are from passing a challenge. There’s no denying that Rhythm Heaven Fever can be a lot of fun, but its prospective audience is much smaller than it could -- and should -- have been.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk music. Have you ever tried to learn to play an instrument? Which is your favorite? Do rhythm games like this one make you more interested in music?
Families can also discuss video games for kids with different kinds of physical impairments. What sorts of games are best suited for blind kids? Kids who can’t hear? Kids who may have difficulty using their hands?
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