Originally dubbed Rhythm Tengoku in Japan, the debut Gameboy Advance title never left those shores. The premise was simple; beat the mini-games by keeping in time with the beat by pressing the buttons. It was so popular that when the DS sequel saw crazy sales in Japan, the rest of the world got to sample the craze, like the more recent Zumba fad. But the input style had changed from the simple and infallible buttons to the imprecise touch-screen flicking method. There was a fear that Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise for the Nintendo Wii would also do away with the button inputs in favour of tacked on waggle controls. Of course, this isn’t the case; but does it keep to the tempo or has it lost its groove?
Input during the actual mini-games themselves is only ever done in one of two ways: pressing the ‘A’ button or pressing both ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons at the same time. What makes the mini-games on occasion devilishly challenging is the precise timing and tempo you need to match with each input. Certainly the beginning is fairly simple in contrast to the devious final act, but one of the main issues comes from inconsistency of the rhythm itself. One early challenge that falls prey to this is the Monkey Clock challenge that is actually off-tempo itself, making it difficult to adapt. However, the majority of the games this time around feel fair in their challenge, as opposed to the majority in the last game being deceitful.
Given its distinguishing cartoon style, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a simple game. In a sense, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Each section has four drastically different games that culminate into one remix at the end of the section. Typically this is the structure through the entire game, but after the credits roll the sequence is altered a tiny bit to include previously completed games within the remixes. Most settings are inspired with as much flavour as the mini-games in the past, with even some returning favourites; but one or two of them fall a little flat. The flavour seeps into the Toys and Endless Games sections which are fun diversions and the challenge of getting the ‘perfect’ score or ‘superb’ ranking is enough to encourage more game time, but really this is a similar setup to before.
One constant throughout the entire course of Beat the Beat’s lifespan is that each setting is a whimsical fantasy and it relies on this to be a key selling point. Monkeys feature frequently in the 35+ stages as each mini-game has on-screen avatars and AI controlled characters bark orders at you. You’ll soon realise that your ears are better friends than your eyes in most games as it is all about timing. Even when the game shifts perspective in such a way that you cannot use your eyes to aid you at all, if you have learned the proper rhythm, you shouldn’t have a problem. The music itself is absolutely covered with J-Pop that will probably be stuck in your head, even if it is out of sheer shame and reluctance.
As you start getting really good with the mini-games, you’ll unlock more content such as new mini-games, Endless mini-games, and toys that don’t really do a lot other than provide a few minutes of fun. The multiplayer section is unlocked as you progress, with a selection of mini-games to try and complete with a partner. You are not only ranked on how well you did, but also how in sync you were to each other. The result of this frantic madness is however short-lived as only a small selection are on offer. This is a shame as this would actually be a Wii mini-game collection I wouldn’t mind showing off in a party scenario; mainly because it doesn’t involve waggling a stick.
A recommendation for a full retail purchase of Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise comes with a stipulation. The game is fun while it lasts and depending on your sense of timing, that could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It comes with a lot of unlockable content and is immensely fun in a multiplayer setting, provided everyone maintains their interest. Unfortunately in most cases, the first thing to lose their interest is the game itself as it runs out of tricks fairly quickly in the multiplayer section and not too soon thereafter in the single player portion. A huge breath of fresh air when compared to the sea of bile from the Nintendo Wii’s numerous mini-game collections; but that breath is all but gone in an instant.