I feel like Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the antithesis to my experience with the last game I reviewed on here, Trials of the Blood Dragon. Blood Dragon was a surprise E3 release near the beginning of the convention that I picked up immediately and did not enjoy. Megamix was a surprise release at the end of the convention that I picked up immediately and don’t want to ever stop playing. Granted I already knew I enjoyed the franchise, and I was of course hoping for the surprise Mother 3 announcement, but this was definitely a great surprise to close out E3.
If you haven’t played Rhythm Heaven before, I would recommend checking out a video or 2 because I don’t think I’ll be able to do the series justice with only words. Rhythm Heaven is a pretty straight-forward rhythm mini-game collection that is wrapped in a huge box of crazy. Most of the mini-games require nothing more from you than to tap/hold a button in time with the music, but it’s the implementation that makes this series a must-play. The bright and colourful aesthetics, the terrific music, a sometimes overwhelming amount of content and quirk for miles all add up to make Rhythm Heaven an absolute joy to play.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the fourth game in the series and, as the title suggests, combines many of the games from the previous titles. There are some new games specific to this installment, but from what I can see it seems like this largely operates as a greatest hits package. I could see how this may disappoint some people, but I have never played the GBA version and have forgotten a lot about the DS one, so much of this experience still felt very fresh to me. The Wii version I actually played through a second time just last year, so I wasn’t as excited about making my way through those mini-games again so soon, but even on a third run they are still fantastic.
There is a storyline here but, as perhaps I should have expected, it’s very slight. This weird dog looking creature with an afro named Tibby has fallen from his home in Heaven World and needs the player’s help in getting back there. This means making your way from stage to stage, meeting a lot of bizarre characters and continuously having to generate flow in order to activate towers or help these characters accomplish strange goals which are sometimes donut related. The story itself is quite long, having several credit rolls as you make your way through the dozens of mini-games that are present here. It does start out very easy, acting almost as an extended tutorial for what’s to come. It was a concern for me at first as I was breezing through everything and the songs felt very short, but things do pick-up after the first credit roll.
Outside of the occasional funny line here or there, I actually found the story to be intrusive to the whole package. There’s an extended dialogue sequence after each round of mini-games (consisting of 4 or 5 each time), with quicker exchanges usually happening after each individual game. For a game whose quirk is a huge part of the experience, a lot of this text falls flat and I simply wanted it out of the way so I could fire up the next rhythm game. There’s room for an outlandish story in a Rhythm Heaven game, but this one doesn’t truly embrace the crazy, instead only serving as an obstacle before you can get to the true reason you are here.
Thankfully the games here are almost all winners across the board. I’m stunned at the amount of variety here, with none of the games feeling like filler and no two games feeling too similar to one another. It was fantastic to see the return of Ringside, Karate Man, Figure Fighter, Hole in One, and you know what, that list will just go on and on. Yes, there are a handful of returning mini-games that I was never huge on, such as Glee Club and Lockstep, but there aren’t any that I would single out as a chore to play. Except maybe Lockstep, though I do love the actual music in that one.
I seriously can’t stress enough how much the sheer charm of this game elevates it beyond a typical rhythm game. On their own, the games themselves are still fun, and the music is phenomenal, whipping out a relentlessly catchy soundtrack consistently (I haven’t been able to get “IIIIII suppose, hey!” out of my head for days now). But when you wrap it in this delightfully weird package, it really takes things to new heights. Other games would be content simply to have a mini-game where you play as a lumberjack who has to chop wood to the beat of a song. Rhythm Heaven Megamix instead decides that the lumberjack is a polar bear and all of the wood is being put in place by cats wearing workout clothes who occasionally make you chop a soda can or a fridge instead of wood. Nearly every game is like this, never content to settle for anything less than completely off the wall bonkers insane. Even a simple tap dancing game makes sure to have a giraffe head lean into frame to let you know how much he digs tap. It's all ridiculous in the absolute best way.
The story portion is likely going to take you about 8-10 hours to wrap up, depending on how determined you are to nail the skill shot in every level and get gold across the board. Acquiring golds in every stage does seem like it is easier to do here than in previous titles, though the scoring system still remains completely impenetrable to me. Games where I’d miss two beats would lead to a 70, where ones I was positive could be a fail ended up with a score in the high 80’s.
Once you finish the story, and even after you’ve perfected everything in that mode, there is still plenty to do. You can go for Perfect’s in every stage, and there’s also the Challenge Train. Here you will play through the story levels, but with an added criteria you need to meet. So you may have to do the stages without messing up more than 3 times, or achieve a certain score, etc. These challenges and achieving Perfect’s earn you flowballs, which you can then use to purchase additional items, which includes a whole host of additional mini-games. I have only grabbed a couple but the list is extensive, and I was happy to see included a couple games I originally thought were notable omissions, like Double Date from Rhythm Heaven Fever on the Wii.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix continues the series’ tradition of being an absolute joy to play. I spent the last week playing the game obsessively whenever I had a spare moment, and when I wasn’t playing it, I guarantee I was silently singing the songs to myself while I was at work/the bus. Having all these games in a single package is great, and the amount of content is going to keep me coming back for a good long while. A blah story and some mediocre mini-games can’t taint the experience and I highly recommend it for both newcomers and returning fans.
Also there’s a mini-game where you play a depressed bear who eats donuts and pieces of cake while crying. So this game obviously deserves your money.