Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Move with the rhythm! (リズムと一緒動くぜ!)

I'm sure that you all have noticed that, in my efforts to avoid being referred to as a one-trick pony... blog, I have attempted to diversify the topics of discussion present herein. I am to please, and figure that I will best be able to do so by employing my wide and varied interests to their maximum potential.

...however, as I mentioned before, that may in fact be the reason that I will ultimately be doomed to obscurity.

Oh well, I think that I'll narrow things down a bit once I actually move to Japan and have interesting, real-life topics to tell you all about, so this may all be a moot point.

However. What I'm trying to say presently is that today's post will stray a bit away from the recent themes, and jump back towards a topic I have only breached once before.

That's right, video games.

After all, the current plan is to do something with them for my life's work (localization, anyone?) so it would make sense to write about them just the teensiest bit in this blog o' mine.

However, doing so creates something of a paradox.

I myself love video games, and can go on for hours and hours about replay values, the value behind in-depth storylines, character strength, the pros and cons of a summon system, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. Well, for those of you not interested, anyway. And as I mentioned, my goal at present is to diversify, and attract more readers with a number of interesting posts in various fields. Once I start getting technical and in-depth, I start pissing people off.

...which I usually don't mind, but today, I'm feeling charitable.

And, well, you know, if my goal is to get readers, I should probably go mass-market-appeal first, and worry about staying true to myself later.

And anyway, no one said anything about sacrificing my own tastes and interests to suit the needs of the masses, did they?

No no no; I'm merely proposing that, instead of writing an eighteen-page essay on why exactly Final Fantasy X's storyline is so intriguing and possibly worth further analysis, I thought I would tell you all about another game I enjoy, which might appeal to a not-so-nerdy, casual gaming audience.

...although yes, die-hard fans, I am irked as well by the number of casual games being produced lately, but hey. Some of them are fun. And the more money the producers make from the casuals, the more money they can spend on making, say, the next Final Fantasy not suck so bad. (Note- I refer here to XII, as I have not yet played XIII and hear that it's actually quite good.)


Moving on to the subject of today's post (finally).

リズム天国ゴールド (Rhythm Heaven Gold)

Or, for you English speaking types, just Rhythm Heaven

Why the change in title, you ask? Well, this time, I know the reason right off the top of my head: in Japan, Rhythm Heaven is a series of sorts, beginning with plain ol' リズム天国 on the GameBoy Advance in 2006. That, however, was never released in America--thus, localization teams felt that Rhythm Heaven alone was sufficient when the DS game was localized for Western audiences.

Makes sense, really. Although it is rather sad that we never got the GBA game.

Basically, Rhythm Heaven is a series of (as you probably guessed) rhythm based mini-games, in which you, the player, progress by tapping or flicking the screen in time with the beat.

Sounds simple? Sounds boring? Sounds like something you could beat in twenty minutes, tops?

Well, sorry to break it to you, but you're wrong.

I admit, it does sound like a dubious proposition-- 30+ mini-games, all based on rhythm, and I'm supposed to be entertained by this? Please.

But really, I have to hand it to the design team behind this one; creativity abounds in this game (and I assume series as a whole, though I'll have to test to be sure), and though they're all rhythm games at their base, each is different enough to be challenging and intriguing, and certainly incredibly frustrating when you're only one away from a perfect...

But I guess that it would be better if I were to actually show you. (Thank you, Youtube.)

Here we have the official US trailer for the game which, while informative, I feel is somewhat lacking. (Mainly because I think it's funnier when you mess up during the chorus game; your buddies get maaad.) And thus I return to the wild, searching again for videos to quench your thirst for knowledge.

I'm just so gosh darn helpful.

Here we have a play-through of the Japanese version of the first "remix," or boss level, as it were. At first, I thought it would be best to find some sort of professional video that just showed the screen, but it is helpful to be able to see what the player is doing, I feel.

... it is, isn't it?

Ah ha, here we go. Not only is this particular game hard, but I fear that I am doomed never to perfect it, simply because I find the expressions on my cohorts faces to be simply hi-larious when I mess up. I miss a note, burst out laughing, and it's just all down-hill from there.

... really, that's a very large danger in this game.

Unfortunately, this player is a bit more talented than I was the first time I played this game--I repeatedly hit the monk in the face, but found it to be so funny that I wound up doubled-over in laughter, unable to do absolutely anything for a good five minutes. However, this video is good in that it is the length of an entire mini-game, so that should give you a good idea of what to expect.

And I think we'll round it off with one last remix... just because I want you all to get a good taste for this game before I send you off again into the world!

Remember, kids: あなた (anata) means you, and it, of course, refers to the character that the player is controlling. Never let it be said that I didn't teach you useful Japanese! (...although please don't run around calling everyone that. In general, that's a linguistic and etiquette no-no. In specific... well, I don't have the time to teach you that much Japanese.)

I know that there wasn't much "editorial" content in this piece, as it were, but... well, frankly, it's rather difficult to write a great deal about a rhythm game. You know this, I know this. There's no need to pretend.

Perhaps this is the light fare I should have used the other day... oh, well.

(And hey, since we were talking about Final Fantasy... here is a fan-made remix-type video of FFV and the original Rhythm Heaven, which I find to be both entertaining and well-made.)

This is Edo, signing off whilst movin' and groovin'.

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