A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about musical concepts and a tad bit of history. Players learn to keep different kinds of beats as they move from one challenge to the next, tapping the screen and pressing buttons in time with onscreen cues that appear in sync with the action. They'll also have opportunity to learn a little about Paris, including its history and culture as they explore the city, take in its tourist attractions, and chat with its people. Learning is a secondary consideration in Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure, but kids are still likely to come away with a new appreciation of both music and Europe's City of Lights.
Rhythmic mini-games communicate the idea that participating in musical experiences can be fun and rewarding.
Positive Role Models
The teenage hero is a thief, but only out of necessity. He has a well-meaning objective for his stolen artifacts that becomes apparent as the game progresses. He also performs the occasional good deed -- like saving a girl from attackers or helping a restaurant owner in need of a chef -- that helps prove he's good at heart. He gets into the occasional fight, but only when he's attacked first, and he never uses deadly force.
Ease of Play
Moving around the game world is simple, and most of the quick puzzles take only a few moments to figure out. The rhythm mini-games start off easy, but get more challenging. Players will finish early games in one go, but will likely require several tries to master those that come later.
Violence & Scariness
A few of the rhythm games involve fighting. Players tap the screen or press buttons to make Raphael jab with his hand and send human enemies armed with claws and swords sprawling. Foes grunt and fall to the ground, dazed. No one dies or is seriously injured.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dialogue contains occasional mention of kissing.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The game references Bordeaux and how, in Paris, it is never too early to talk about wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure is a music and puzzle game suitable for older elementary school kids. Most of its rhythm-based activities -- hiding behind statues, bounding across rooftops, cooking food -- are completely innocuous. A few involve cartoonish violence; speedy jabs in time with a beat. None of the characters get seriously hurt. Note that this game supports the 3DS StreetPass wireless communication feature, but that personal information is not exchanged. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
Is It Any Good?
Among the better music-themed games available for the Nintendo 3DS, Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure has a delightfully quirky personality. Part of its charm comes from its characters, whose distinctly Japanese flair melds surprisingly well with the game's realistically rendered Parisian locales. The original music, which ranges from jazzy numbers to more modern, pop tunes, is equally engaging and catchy to boot. But the real reason to play is the rhythm games. Whether players are tapping the screen on cue to kick and shoot soccer balls or swiping left and right to play a violin, these quick tasks are reliably fun and pleasantly challenging.
One beef is that the stretches between rhythm games -- typically filled with dialogue and Professor Layton-style exploration -- are sometimes a little too long. The game needs more rock and less talk. Also, the scoring is a smidge wonky, with more weight placed on the more difficult sections that come at the end of each rhythm challenge. Failing an activity simply because you missed the last few beats can be a bit frustrating. These two blemishes aside, Rhythm Thief is a music game fans of the genre won't want to miss.
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Our Editors Recommend
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