Developer: Noise Factory
Release Date: 11/06/2007
Available Exclusively On
The DS was made for rhythm games. The touch screen is a perfect way to implement fun new ideas as physical interaction with music is usually a good mix. Ontamarama tries this with cute visuals and using the touch screen combined with buttons. Sadly, it doesn’t pan out quite how the developers wanted. The game is just too distracting and causes artificial inflation in difficulty when the actual rhythm part never gets very hard.
The combination of using the face buttons plus the touch screen isn’t designed very well here. You have to tap the Ontamas that pop up on the touch screen to fill the buttons scrolling across the bar. Using just directional buttons to trigger the actual note. This just doesn’t work. While you tap the creatures you can’t keep your eye on the scrolling bar too. Slower notes work fine and you will notice this during the first few songs of the story mode. However, adding other things like needing to double tap notes, drawing circles around groups of Ontamas, and avoiding black Onatamas that lower your performance is just too much.
Eventually, songs get so infuriating because this combo just not working out. The songs aren’t hard themselves if only I could keep an eye on both things. There is also stuff happening on the top screen that I can’t even look at for a second. I also felt the circle drawing wasn’t forgiving enough. If you draw the circle too big it won’t register and the same for too small. Often times I just barely made it through the song before failing. There’s no way practice can make this game better unless you memorize each button placement and note, and that’s now a good way to master a rhythm game. It should be about mastering the mechanic and having your reflexes honed.
It would be kind of worth it if the songs were good. These are just loud clashings of instruments that don’t sound good. There are no catchy beats or tunes. It’s just generic-sounding music and just sounds like awful noise. If the music was really good then trying to master this frustrating system might be worth it. Now, I’m not saying the game is horrible. It’s a unique take on the genre and the developers really tried to do something new and when it works it’s a lot of fun. The visuals are cute, but the story is complete nonsense and silly. Sadly, there are only about a dozen tracks, so once you beat story mode that’s pretty much it.
I can see how this game didn’t sell well and failed. It isn’t the near perfection of Elite Beat Agents with its licensed music or Guitar Hero with its unique peripheral. The DS didn’t have a fantastic run of rhythm games, but they were all unique and tried something new and I can appreciate that. I feel if you really want to scratch a rhythm itch then pick this up for a challenge, but don’t play it for the music.