#697 Elite Beat Agents

Posted: 28th March 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

413th played so far

Elite_Beat_AgentsGenre: Music
Platform: DS
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: iNiS
Publisher: Nintendo

Rhythm games are usually pretty abstract, light on plot and focused on showing you your actions. You might get a vague storyline of being a DJ or a member of a band, with you ascending the charts and becoming famous, but it’s pretty flimsy. The graphics offer little more, showing you play in front of a crowd or showing clips of the song.

Today’s Elite Beat Agents describes itself with “The fate of the world depends on your touch-screen skills” and “Trouble? Call the Elite Beat Agents!” Higher stakes, then, although our question remains – how do you do so with music?

Our Thoughts

The titular agents – to remove that confusion first – somehow don’t remove your problems or solve it. No, they’re cheerleaders, dancing and cheering the heroes of mini-stories (from babysitters panicking to take care of kids to someone fighting off golems). It tells these stories through cutscenes between the actual rhythm game levels in a rather exciting comic book style – most of the game uses the imagery. One advantage of the DS here is (it turns out) that these can take place near-simultaneously – the top screen can be used for some storytelling (where your attention span allows it) while the bottom is reserved for the game and our agents.

The use of the touch screen seems to change the game (subtly) in a way that I don’t recall us seeing before. Rather obviously, the rhythm tapping doesn’t just consists of pressing or holding buttons at the right time, but instead tapping the right place at the right time, or sliding across the touch screen. The game announces these fairly far in advance, never making it that difficult, but it both makes the game feel different, and yet suitable at the same time. The default difficulty makes this fairly manageable, with higher ones obviously asking for more precision.

As much as the game’s plot might be a simple excuse plot for allowing the adventure, it is where a lot of the game’s charm lies. The method of cheering seems insane, as well as the emergencies these men in black get called out for. It’s well-written silliness though, self-aware enough to stay bearable and more than anything indulging in the oddness of its premise. The anime graphics here help, making the game feel a bit more ridiculous as well.

Marrying a silly plot to gameplay that works different enough from normal feels like a winning combination of sorts. Perhaps not the greatest, but certainly a decent game that would be worth getting back to later.

Final Thoughts

It’s bizarre, but with a good rhythm game setup that feels very playable, and easier to pick up than plastic instruments (or is that just me?). You just need to be ready to sit there, mouth open, wondering what’s going on. At least it tends to end up being amusing. It is a pity that the game was not able to (or choose not to) include the original songs and instead opted for covers. Most of them were fine but one or two felt a little off.

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