Release Date: 11/6/2006
Rating: Everyone 10+
Available Exclusively On
The DS doesn’t have enough good rhythm games, but Elite Beat Agents helps fill that void with a campy off-the-wall style that any fan of the genre will enjoy. You play as three Charlie’s Angels Esque agents (men instead of women) with crazy hairstyles who go out helping people do impossible tasks that break real-world rules. Various stages include helping a pirate find treasure, helping a taxi driver deliver a pregnant woman to a hospital after a cop tells him to not speed ever again, or a movie director making successful movies. These are told in comic-style frames and they are quick and funny to watch. You play about 30 seconds of a song then you watch the rest of the wacky story unfold, and how good you were at that segment determines whether or not they succeed in their goal or fail.
The gameplay is different from most rhythm games in the sense that you don’t follow colored blocks that fall into place and you hit it at the right time. The game uses solely the touchscreen, but I couldn’t really dig the way the rhythm mechanic was designed. You hit numbered circles, and depending on the beat, an outer circle will close in, but once it gets even with the numbered circle you tap it. The numbers tell you what order to hit it, but you must follow the colored group. Various other “notes” range from following a ball with your stylus, double-tapping, triple tapping, or using a spinner to fill a meter. These are weird for rhythm games and help add to the random crazy feeling of the stories, but it is really hard to master because timing is hard when trying to line up circles within circles.
Later on, the songs get harder so there are all these circles floating around and you can get confused and lost on the tiny screen and the game has little room for error. Keeping your meter in the Yes is important because if you are in the No after the segment you fail that part of the story. My issue is that the meter is constantly running down and you are keeping it up, so failing a lot in slow sections makes you fail faster. Once you get the hang of it you start having fun, but younger people may get frustrated quickly due to the high learning curve.
A rhythm game isn’t complete without good songs and EBA is lacking here as well. There are famous songs here such as Village People’s “YMCA” or Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8ter Boi” but that’s just it, it’s a hodge-podge of random artists and these are just cover songs (remade by someone else). Not only that, but the audio is very low quality and tinny so it feels like a half-baked rhythm game. I like some of the songs here, but there should have been more consistency and fewer random pickings, plus there are only 19 songs so you can finish this in one or two sittings. The game also lacks any type of modes besides multiplayer so you will get bored after a few sittings with this game.
EBA has a great sense of humor, funny stories, and a decent selection of songs, but it feels like it’s missing something and the high learning curve will turn anyone away except the hardcore rhythm fans. This is a great weekend rental or something you can pick up in your bargain bin if you are craving rhythm action on your DS.