Rhythm Heaven, known in Japan as Rhythm Tengoku and as Rhythm Paradise in Europe, can best be described as WarioWaremeetsElite Beat Agents. The first game in the series was released on the GBA in late 2006, making it the last game that Nintendo developed for the system, and later in arcades as a joint project between Nintendo and SEGA. Naturally this meant that it would be released only in Japan, not unlike the case with Mother 3. Despite this, the DS sequel (known as Rhythm Tengoku Gold in Japan) would receive an overseas release to a positive reception.The gameplay is fairly simple. The game is divided into sets of four or five music-based mini-games, which are completed by pressing buttons (or flicking and tapping the touch screen) in time with the rhythm. Upon completion of each mini-game, the player's performance is evaluated and given a ranking: Try Again, OK, or Superb. If a player gets a Try Again rating, they can't progress to the next mini-game until they can get one of the higher ratings. A Superb rating awards the player with a medal; collecting these allows bonus features such as endless mini-games to be unlocked. Sometimes the game challenges the player to complete a mini-game flawlessly. Doing so nets a Perfect rating, which unlocks bonus information on the mini-game or adds another song to the sound test. After completing a set of games, the player is challenged to a Remix game that includes each game of the set. Completing the Remix unlocks the next set.The mini-games themselves are exactly what one would expect from the team responsible for WarioWare: Quirky, bizarre, and generally addictive. Examples include:
Hitting baseballs expelled by a flowerpot while floating in space
Helping a rabbit jump across whales and turtles to reach the moon
Stomping around a garden to pluck beets from the ground
Shaking and tossing flasks to create hearts in a laboratory devoted to studying the science of love
Controlling a member of a quartet of dancing shrimp
Piloting a rocket powered by anthropomorphic tuning forks across a surreal landscape of flowers and pink clouds
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Half Rhythm Game, Half Widget Series, Rhythm Heaven is a definite qualifier for one of the best rhythm-based mini-game collections available.On an interesting note, it is one of the few rhythm games to actually be about "rhythm" and not just rapid timing. That is most prominently featured in Lockstep in Heaven, where you'll cruise after you get how to switch from the beat to off-beat but will be completely impossible if you just try to "muscle" your way through.The third iteration, Rhythm Heaven Fever, also known in Japan as Minna no Rhythm Tengoku (Everyone's Rhythm Heaven), was released in the States in February 2012. The European port (called Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise) was, after an enormous wait, released in July 2012.Note: For shorthand, we'll be calling the GBA version Tengoku, the DS version Heaven, and the Wii version Fever.
This series provides examples of:
Added Alliterative Appeal: Rhythm Rally, Blue Birds, Love Lizards, Freeze Frame, Munchy Monk, Drummer Duel, Love Lab, Space Soccer, Beat Bag, Double Date, Figure Fighter, Samurai Slice, Tap Troupe, and Shrimp Shuffle.
All There in the Manual: Winning the gifts will give you background on the various characters. Lampshaded in the reading material for Blue Birds, telling you that it will make the montage scene shown in the game make more sense.
Talking to the barrista lets you skip any level you're having trouble with, provided you've tried it at least three times. You can do this for as many games as you want, excluding Remixes 6, 8 (Tengoku only) and 10.
Fever's barrista gives players the option to watch a perfect run of the level, to see the proper rhythms.
"Frog Hop" from the DS version compensates for its length by being much more lenient with its timing. Being slightly offbeat warns the player with a "click" sound, but still counts as a successful tap and won't break a perfect run. (Can be seen in action here.)
Players can only attempt a perfect run on a song three times in a row. After that, they'll have to wait for the game to randomly let them try again. Whether or not this forced break is a good thing is questionable. (Since these breaks stop appearing once the player has gotten a Superb ranking on every level, it's likely that this is to give players a chance to work on OTHER challenges.)
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Samurai Slice in Fever involves hunting down some evil spirits who scare a little boy and his sister, trash their house... and steal the little boy's pinwheel. In Samurai Slice 2, said spirits go on to steal a stuffed bunny a salaryman bought for his daughter.
Astronomic Zoom: during Flock Step in Fever. One of the tricks series does to mess you your play up.
Bedsheet Ghost: "Sneaky Spirits" in Tengoku and "Big Rock Finish" in Heaven.
Big Eater: Munchy Monk. Marshal during Munchy Monk's endless game in Fever.
Bilingual Bonus: The counting in "Munchy Monk" is in Chinese in the Japanese version.
In "Kung Fu Ball", the neon sign on the right-hand side of the screen doesn't say anything intelligible in Chinese (which you might assume given the minigame's theme), but it can be read as "rizumu" ("rhythm") in Japanese.
Blah Blah Blah: Ring Side in Fever. The girl asks questions of the wrestler and all we hear is "Wubbadubbadubba is that true?" The wrestler is most likely not paying attention to the questions and is yes-ing her to death.
Lampshaded in the game's reading material, where this time the reporter is asking him actual questions. He still responds to everything with "Eh". It opens up the possibility that we're hearing what the wrestler hears.
Bland-Name Product: The Cheer Readers in the American version of Fever twirl books simply titled "BOOK". In Europe, said books are printed with four circles instead.
Book Ends: Each game in the series has one remix that includes every stage in the game. The stages that come first in the remix always appear once more for the finale (Space Dance for Tengoku, Karate Man for Heaven, and Packing Pests for Fever).
Boss Rush: Remix 7 in Tengoku is a medley of Remixes 1, 2 and 4.
Brick Joke: The reading material for Monkey Watch shows that it was designed to help keep your spirits up by giving you a cheery way to look at the time. The reading material for Mr. Upbeat suggests he bought a Monkey Watch to act as a therapist for his depression.
In Heaven's Big Rock Finish, you play a small initial tune to get used to the game's moves. Later on, the tune is extended to an entire song in Remix 7. Guess what game the Remix will make you play right as it's about to finish.
Brutal Bonus Level: After getting a Perfect in all of the games in Feveryou'll unlock the Endless Remix. The game itself isn't all that hard (in fact, it's arguably the most fun Endless Game in Fever and quite possibly the whole series); what makes it needlessly difficult at first is that, of the five Endless Games used, three of them aren't seen anywhere else, and they don't bother to tell you how they work. This basically forces you to figure it out on your own (or consult a guide) and keep losing until you get it right.
Creative Closing Credits: In Heaven a minigame named "Airboarder" plays as the credits scroll. It becomes playable later.
Same with Fever, but this one is a remake of Night Walk from Tengoku, featuring Marshal as the playable character.
Notable in that both appear in their respective game's Final Exam Boss, so you'd better have tried them at least once.
Continuity Nod / Shout-Out: All over the place. For example, pay attention to the "Freeze Frame" game in Heaven, and see how many stages/characters from the first game show upnote For the record: the white and black ninjas from "Ninja", the white mouse from "Stealth Mice", and the ghosts from "Sneaky Spirits" sometimes show up in photographs, and at one point you can see the Rap Men, the Clappy Trio, the Space Dancers, and the monkeys from Tap Trial watching the race. There's more in Heaven than in just that stage, but said stage is practically dripping with them.
Continued in Fever, there's a lot of them throughout the game, more so to Heaven but there are a few to Tengoku. Most noticeably, the Cheer Readers will make pictures of characters from previous games, including the leader of the Space Dancers from Tengoku and DJ Yellow from Heaven's "DJ School".
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Several of the games have titles that tell you exactly what they're going to be, in both versions. Examples include Shiro Obake (lit. "White Ghost"), Rap Men, and in the second game, Shoot-em Up and Dog Ninja.
This is more apparent when comparing the English and Japanese version of the second game. Built to Scale is simply called Assembly in the Japanese version and Rhythm Rally was Ping Pong.
In Fever, the game "Bossa Nova" is played to a bossa nova beat. The two characters are even called Bossa and Nova.
Fake Longevity: This trope comes into play when trying to unlock the bonuses. As the game is played, the player is randomly given a chance to get a perfect on a randomly selected game. If the player fails three times, they must wait for another random chance. Once the player gets gold medals on all 50 games, they have unlimited "perfect" opportunities, however, it still goes to another one after three attempts. Made more annoying by the fact that some games will require you to perform perfectly (at least for the hard parts) just to get a Superb, making the Perfect system feel arbitrary at times.
Presumably done to avert a different form of fake longetivity, which would consist of the player playing the same game hundreds of times in a row, attempting to perfect it. This at least makes the player try different games.
In the arcade version of Tengoku, random minigames will start to show "Go for a Perfect!" if you're doing perfect so far partway through. This is to balance out the lack of saving your completion status.
In fact, the original developers for Rhythm Tengoku actually wanted to put human faces on the beets for the original mini-games they appeared in, but later decided to use regular cartoon-ish faces, as they found the human faces on the beets to be "too creepy".
Funny Afro: A lot of characters end up having afros, most notably the Clappy Trio in Tengoku.
Funny Animal: As mentioned elsewhere on the page, you not only have Dog Ninja and the strange chipmunk-man in Love Lab, but there's also Tram and Poline in the first game, where two acrobatic trampolinists turn back and forth into foxes as they perform. At least, if you get the timingright.
Funny Background Event: Odds are you won't notice them due to focusing on what you're hearing, but quite a few minigames in Fever have things going on in the background, and some of them can be amusing. In "Double Date", every time a football is kicked up on-time, you can see it fall in the background and get caught. This continues into "Double Date 2", where barnyard animals will catch the football in the air.
Not to mention, in both versions of Working Dough, Mr. Game and Watch leaves, and he can actually be seen in one of the...balls(?) that the player bounces. He then commandeers a giant mech in the background.
One of the things "Space Baseball" minigame from Tengoku does to mess up your play (coupled with copious Camera Abuse) is randomly changing the batters's head.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Though the awesome is a little dampened by the games having painfully obvious names, with Tengoku 's Ninja and Heaven 's Dog Ninja.
Interface Screw: Some of the harder games love darkening everything or putting things in your way, forcing you to rely only on your rhythm and your ability to detect audio cues. One of the most notorious examples comes in Samurai Slice in Fever, which blocks the entire freaking screen with translucent slides.
Heaven is also notorious for blocking out 95% of the screen at one point in Built to Scale. And this is the very first stage mind you.
Inverted in Built to Scale 2. It looks like it'll do it again...but easily catches "prepared" players off guard by sending another thing while the lights are still off. The lights come back on immediately after this one.
Mundane Made Awesome: The guiding principle of the game - especially the first game. Whoever thought that writing calligraphy and chopping vegetables could be so cool?
The samurai's purpose in life in the Fever version of "Samurai Slice" is battling demons... to retrieve stolen children's toys. The last demon in the portal is always the one carrying it.
Nintendo Hard: Rhythm Heaven is known for being rhythmically strict. There's no "Marvelous", "Great" or "Good" for each beat, you must play it perfectly or you'll just screw it up. It becomes even more suffocating when you have to go for a "Perfect".
Tengoku has an arcade port where you play one block of six stages. The catch? Getting less than a Superb costs you one life, and you only get three lives.note Okay, so technically, you use up one life when you enter a stage, and get it back on a Superb. Still the same end result. Yes, that means getting an OK instead of Try Again will still cost you one life! Worse, the cabinet buttons are somewhat poorly constructed, resulting in buttons getting stuck frequently—pray it doesn't go off on a platform edge in "Night Walk"!
No Name Given: A bunch of characters. Notably, the boy and the girl from Double Date in Fever (in the North American version, anyway). Their labels in the cast are "A boy" for the boy, and "His crush" for the girl. It gets somewhat ridiculous considering the weasels have a collective name that's all capitalized (Weasel Couple), alongside other certain named cast members, being a fork (named Fork) and a set of nuts and a bolt (named Widget).
The cast of Donk-Donk also go unnamed. Then again, it's quite difficult to put a name on such a cast...
Non-Standard Character Design: While all of the characters have that "japanese feeling", most of them are different in artstyle. Compare Munchy Monk with the Wandering Samurai, for example.
Non Standard Game Over: While you normally fail Night Walk in Tengoku by failing to successfully jump on enough nodes, you can also fail and end the game prematurely by falling into a Bottomless Pit. In Night Walk 2, the same can be achieved by jumping into a whale. Either way, the game gives you a special "Try Again" message.
Nostalgia Level: Karate Man, the first mini-game of Tengoku, makes a reappearance near the end of Heaven and Fever.
The "Built to Scale" game from Heaven has a factory setting much like "Polyrhythm" from the first game. The "Built to Scale" game in Fever manages to cram two Nostalgia Levels into one by combining the elements from both aforementioned games.
Fever also contains four remastered stages from Tengoku as unlockables, and the Mini-Game Credits sequence is a remake of Night Walk, also from Tengoku.
The English version of Fever, to make up for removing Manzai Birds, remade Mr. Upbeat, an Endless Game from Tengoku.
Off Model: Heaven has a serious problem with proportioning, typically with arm length. For a specific example, in DJ School, watch DJ Yellow's left hand. It goes through at least three different sizes.
The baseball player from the Fever game "Exhibition Match" has a bit of trouble keeping his arms the same thickness. When in his "neutral stance", his arms look fairly normal, but while swinging, they become twigs.
Once an Episode: Karate Man, the Samurai, and Widget Factory have playable appearances in each game. The Samurai even makes a cameo appearance in Game&Wario in the WarioWare (Slicefish) Microgame. (The Choir Kids, and Wrestler make appearances as well)
Each game also features a mini-game based on the concept of lockstep, though each game deals with it differently.
Player Nudge: There's usually something on the screen that moves to the rhythm as a visual hint. Even more subtly, if you need a hint of what's coming up next, you should look at the girl. The pitcher in Exhibition Match, the cheerleaders in Drummer Duel, and MC Adore in Love Rap are excellent examples of this. It's also usually a girl's voice that counts for you.
In Bossa Nova, if you mess up, the voices briefly say their cues louder before going back to their...normal cues.
In Samurai Slice in Fever, if you mess up during the part where the story covers the screen, the words and pictures will get knocked out of the way so that you can see yourself.
Played for laughs in the baseball exhibition in Fever. The reason it takes so long for the pitcher's ball to reach the batter from behind the curtain? A monkey catches the ball mid-flight, waits, then tosses it out to the batter.
At a certain point in the game Packing Pests, the camera moves, revealing that the employee is Munchy Monk.
Tap Troupe has the troupe's faces at the bottom and their feet at the top. The end reveals that they're actually extremely tall, thus the reason for the frames.
Getting a perfect on the DS version of Remix 10 reveals that the Bluebird's drill seargant is actually the leader of the Rhythm League.
Doing a "blind" run (e.g. with a blindfold, unplugging the video sub-cable of your AV cable, or simply looking away from the screen) and relying solely on sound cues. It works for many goes, though some games (such as "Night Walk 2" in Tengoku) still force you to use a few visual cues.
The opposite, having the screen on but the music off, is also possible in most games. The rhythm is still there, but only visually and internally.
Self-Parody: Many of the notes unlocked for getting Perfects in Fever.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: It's generally agreed that Tengoku was much harder than its sequels, with just a few misses resulting in a "Try Again" in most games.
"Simon Says" Mini-Game: Hoo boy. The Rhythm Heaven franchise is notorious for these. A few examples: Shoot-em-up, Moai Doo-wop, Drummer Duel, Love Lab to an extent, Working Dough, Rockers, and parts of Glee Club.
Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe example — Averted with the Cheer Readers. You'd think obnoxiously cheering in a library would annoy the hell out of people studying there, but their cheering somehow works! The kid in the Double Date game even praises the fact that he got an A on a recent test with the help of their cheering. Of course, this is all assuming that you did it well. It's played straight when you screw up.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One would think that a couple of hops would be enough to test the safety of any seesaw, yet See and Saw feel the need to repeatedly launch each other several feet into the air to accomplish this task, making one wonder exactly what these seesaws are being used for.
The reading material related to that game implies that they might have a motivation besides simple testing.
Try getting a high score at Mr. Upbeat. Eventually as the music gets faster, Mr. Upbeat's comments of praise eventually become frantic begging for you to stop because his feet hurt.
So tired... I think I can see through time...
Visual Pun: In Fever, a minigame involves Shrimp hopping about to the beat in front of the sea, while a voice counts "1-2-3, A-B-C!". In Japan, shrimp are called "ebi" (pronounced similar to "A B"), making this the Ebi Sea.
Wake-Up Call Boss: Remix 2 in Fever. The first one was relatively simple to get you used to the "No practice for you" aspect of remixes. This one hits you with Monkey Watch straight off the mark. And it's short, so there's only a couple of mistakes between "OK" and "Try again".
What the Hell, Player?: Get used to being given annoyed looks by other characters if you keep messing up the beat.
Where It All Began: The last remix in both Tengoku and Heaven end with the very first minigame in the series, Karate Man.
Karate Man is the final non-remix minigame in Fever.
Widget Series: The first game is actually much weirder than the second.
The weirdness gets plenty of Lampshade Hanging by the English writers, especially in Fever.