Release Date: 07/10/2012
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Paris. A thief by night and regular Joe by day. A strange symbol your father left you. An Anti-Christ that has risen from the grave. This all sounds like an epic recipe for some crazy National Treasure sequel, and honestly, this kind of feels like an anime version of that movie. You play Phantom R and are trying to uncover an ancient mystery that your dad left you as a small boy while stopping the evil Napoleon Bonaparte himself from taking over Paris.
The story really takes itself too seriously for how silly the plot is. During the 5 hours you will spend with this game I honestly felt no attachment to the characters or story. They’re very cookie-cutter and don’t really develop any type of personality. The spotty voice acting doesn’t help either. There are a lot of characters for such a short game and many of them only get a few seconds of screen time to shout at you and that’s about it. It’s a very forgettable game, not just in the story. The visuals are your bog-standard anime-style graphics. The game plays like a rhythm version of Professor Layton on top of all that.
Once you get a hold of your character and can explore the map you will be presented with still backgrounds on the bottom screen like in Professor Layton. You then tap away ferociously until stuff happens. You can collect two hidden presents per screen for golden coins that are used to buy aids during mini-games. Some screens will have secrets such as notes that need to be found to find a secret music page, soundtrack CD, or objects that produce sounds that are needed to build the master instrument. These hidden items eventually unlock hidden chapters, but I honestly didn’t care enough for any of the characters to learn any backstory here from said chapters.
The meat of the game is the rhythm sections and these are fairly simplistic, but frustrating in nature. In most rhythm games you can get good at it by following the beat of the song. In this game, you don’t ride the entire beat like in most rhythm games. Small sections are cut out with button presses. For example, you do a sequence with A or B buttons like A-B-B-A-B and that section follows the beat of the song. This would be fine if the entire game wasn’t a Simon Says game disguised as a rhythm game. You have to listen to a sequence of notes and repeat them regardless of the beat of the song. I wound up failing many mini-games because I wanted to naturally tap or press buttons in time with the beat, but just mashing the buttons worked. Increased difficulty means more prompts to remember and they sometimes play so fast that it’s almost impossible to remember the sequence on the first try.
While I praise the game for giving a variety of mini-game types they do repeat very often. The games usually require you to tap two buttons or swipe on the screen in certain directions. That’s it. In between the rhythm games are mini-game puzzles that are fairly easy and offer no challenge. There are a few Simon Says ones in here too, but the sequence is remembered so if you mess up you just start at the last note you messed up on. That offers no challenge and allows you to basically mash all the buttons and not care about the order. While I could find a groove with some rhythm mini-games there were many that I just couldn’t get into or kept messing up on and didn’t understand why.
Overall, Rhythm Thief is a Simon Says game disguised as a rhythm game. There’s no true rhythm here outside of repeating every pattern in time with a beat. I could do that without a beat. The increased difficulty isn’t about more complicated songs, but just increased speed and more prompts in a shorter time frame. That’s not challenging just frustrating. The story is nonsensical and takes itself too seriously with characters that are one note and don’t have any time to build a personality to care for. While the visuals are nice it feels way too much like a cousin to Professor Layton and not its own thing.