Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure (3DS) Demo Impressions

Now, I don't claim to understand the method to the North American eShop's madness. No, I'm much too pedestrian of a thinker for that. I mean, why release a demo for a game coming out this Tuesday (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy) when you can release a demo for a game that isn't due out for a couple of weeks? I'm no marketer, so this question obviously befuddles me deeply. Nonetheless, I can't really complain when we lucky North Americans get to try out a demo of Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure. I like this game getting a demo because it will no doubt be on the Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games - Part Two list for two reasons: 1) It's niche, and 2) It's being published by Sega, a company with some recent troubles, so advertising dollars best go to bigger games. If the title of the game didn't give it away (not calling anyone dumb or anything), Rhythm Thief features many rhythmic elements.

The actual demo is limited to thirty plays and three rhythm-based mini-games, but perhaps you're like me and want more. Insatiable gamers and all that stuff. Let's discuss what I liked and possibly disliked about the trio of mini-games.

R01 Showtime

Featuring three dancers including our smooth criminal hero moving and grooving around various Paris locales like the Arc de Triomphe, Showtime has relatively simple controls. You slide the stylus in the direction indicated in the circle. Around the circle the direction shown is located in is a ring that closes over the circle. The closer to the circle the ring is when you swipe the appropriate direction, the better your score will become. To earn a high score and thus a high ranking (A is the best ranking while E taunts you as a horrible player) you need to keep a combo going, a trend that continued through the other two games and no doubt the rest of Rhythm Thief.

R02 Looting the Louvre 

Stealing objet d'art is just one of the many jobs of our hero. This mission puts him the role of say, a Thomas Crown. Only this Thomas Crown can bust a move like nobody's business. Sneaking through patrols, striking poses at the right time to hide behind statues, and then basically making a mockery of the Louvre's squadron of guards through sauntering casually behind a witless guard or tapping one of their shoulders are all actions taken by the Rhythm Thief in this mission. The controls are easy. You have four differently colored buttons on the bottom screen. When you get the music and visual cue of the guard turning around and the hero standing behind the various statues, you tap the button that is the same color of the statue to have the art robber's body contort perfectly to the shape of the statue, fooling the gullible guard.

R04 Battle Diabolique

You don't get to steal 500 priceless heirlooms without making a few enemies. Meet some type of task force assigned to taking out our pilfer-happy hero. But thankfully rhythm is on our side. This game sports analog input controls: the d-pad for smacks on the left and the face buttons for assaults on the right. Armored goons will attack in time with the music. The goal here is to beat away each offender before they can touch you. At the start, they attack on only one side and then the other. As things get more challenging, they start assaulting our hero from both sides, sometimes in pairs. Occasionally you'll be tasked with mashing both the d-pad and the face buttons to tackle the leader of the force.

Now it's important to note that the missions included in the demo are early ones, so the difficulty isn't quite there. The full game will have more of a challenge, a story, dozens upon dozens of unique missions including some that mimic known Sega properties like Samba de Amigo and Space Channel 5, the ability to travel around Paris via map, and numerous secrets to discover. I sort of have this "this is the Professor Layton of rhythm games" vibes, and that is always a really good thing. If I can find this for $30 or under, and I have the actual money to afford it (or if I ever get off my behind and start schmoozing publishers to send me review copies), Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure will find a place in my always expanding 3DS collection.

Take a glimpse at my new Demo Impressions section in the SPC Feature Catalog.

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