North American game cover.
TNX Music Recordings
Rhythm Heaven, known as Rhythm Paradise in Europe, Rhythm World in Korea, and Rhythm Tengoku Gold (リズム天国ゴールド Rizumu Tengoku Gōrudo?) in Japan, is a rhythm video game developed by Nintendo SPD for the Nintendo DS. It is the second (first in the west) game in Nintendo's Rhythm Heaven series, following the Japan-only Game Boy Advance title Rhythm Tengoku, and was succeeded by Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii and Rhythm Heaven Megamix for the 3DS. The game was released in Japan on July 31, 2008, in North America on April 5, 2009 in Europe on May 1, 2009, in Australia on June 4, 2009, and in Korea on September 24, 2009. It was released worldwide due to the success of the GBA game which preceded it.
Rhythm Heaven is played using the touch screen with the DS held vertically. Throughout the game, players use the stylus to play through several rhythm-based levels, each with their own specific rules. Controls used include tapping the touch screen to shoot a target, holding the stylus down on the touch screen to make a character dive underwater, dragging it across the screen to make a lizard's tail shake and flicking it off the screen to hit a ping pong ball. A guitar-based minigame late in the game, along with unlockable guitar lessons, also include the use of the DS's shoulder buttons to bend guitar notes.
The game's fifty levels are split into ten sets, each consisting of four levels and a special remix level that incorporates previous elements into one stage. In each level, the player must attempt to keep with the rhythm throughout the level, receiving a rank at the end of the level depending on how well they did. To clear a level and progress onto the next stage, the player needs to get a 'Just OK' or 'OK' rank. By receiving a 'Superb' rank on each level, players receive medals which unlock bonus mini-games, such as Endless Games, Rhythm Toys and Guitar Lessons. A level that a player has received a Superb rating on may be randomly selected for a Perfect attempt. Only appearing on the menu three times before moving elsewhere, these runs require the player to complete a level perfectly with no mistakes. Completing these perfect runs earns more bonus features in the coffee shop, such as song sheets and lyrics.
Rhythm Heaven uses original music composed by Tsunku and Masami Yone, with vocals by TNX artists including Canary Club, The Possible, and Tsunku himself (credited as Occhama). These vocals were re-recorded in English for the Western version by other vocalists (most notably Ayaka Nagate, a former member of the Tsunku-produced Coconuts Musume), as were some of the voice cues. There were plans to include the Japanese songs in the music player section, but they were removed due to space restrictions. Soundtrack albums for the game have been released in Japan, but not in North America. The European version has been fully translated in Spanish, English, French, German, and Italian language, including the songs.
Rhythm Heaven was developed by Nintendo SP&D1 with the assistance of Tsunku, a music record producer, both also worked on the original Rhythm Tengoku. The conception of the game is credited to Nintendo programmer Kazuyoshi Osawa who previously worked on Metroid and WarioWare titles.
A Rhythm Heaven Wii game, Rhythm Heaven Fever, succeeded this version; Nintendo president Satoru Iwata saw potential in the game in people's living rooms: "When you see others play with the game and notice that he or she misses out on being perfectly in rhythm, it can also be surprisingly fun."
Six years later, another Rhythm Heaven game was released for the Nintendo 3DS under the title of Rhythm Heaven Megamix. It features games from the DS installment, as well as rhythm games from Fever and the original Rhythm Tengoku along with brand-new ones such as Super Samurai Slice, Karate Man: Senior and Pajama Party.
The game received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of one eight, two nines, and one eight, for a total of 34 out of 40.
411Mania gave it a score of nine out of ten and called it "a must-own that won’t disappoint." Wired gave it a similar score of nine stars out of ten and called it "the sort of novel, deep, challenging game that people accuse Nintendo of not creating anymore." The Daily Telegraph gave it eight out of ten and said that the touches "elevate [the game] from a fun but throwaway music game into an addictive quest for rhythm perfection. It’s not a music game as wonderfully elaborate as the superb Elite Beat Agents, but its ostensibly simple mechanics give it a sense of purity that a lot of games lack." The A.V. Club gave it a B and called it "the cutest drum machine on the market."
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