Trying To Keep the Beat –
The 3DS and the eShop are no strangers to music based games. Unfortunately, Groove Heaven doesn’t stack up especially against heavy hitters like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, HarmoKnight, and even Bit.Trip Saga despite being a cheaper and kid friendly download.
Players assume the role of a cutesy devil girl who is tasked with delivering a love letter to an angel in the heavens from a demon down below. Playing mailman requires Rhymi to manually climb a 30 story tower; there is no elevator here.
Gameplay is actually very simple but requires precision and concentration. Using the stylus on the touchscreen (or the buttons via the options menu), the player only has two forms of input: move and turn. At its core, Groove Heaven is an uncomplicated platformer but movement can only be performed when tapped to the beat of the music. For example, if you want to move one tile ahead, then simply touch the Move button on the touchscreen to the beat of the music. Tapping out of sync with the beat makes Rhymi shrug her shoulders until the taps line up perfectly with the beat of the musical soundtrack. This puts a severe restriction on movement but that is the point. Once you find the beat, control becomes fluid but can be infuriating when a single miss tap can send players back to the beginning of the stage. This is one game you will want to play with the music turned up not for the musical quality but because it is so heavily dependent on gameplay. However, it is still possible to play this game without sound as Rhymi bounces with an idle animation to the beat as a visual clue.
Most stages can be completed in about one minute but the challenge comes from trying to collect all the optional flowers and music notes scattered throughout each stage. Unfortunately, level design is not very user friendly as it is possible to get stuck on endless trampoline jumps or cats can corner players without escape. Since there is no way to attack, purposely walking to your death is the only way out of some situations. Gameplay is also awkward as Rhymi automatically climbs all steps. Thing is, sometimes it would be easier to walk in front of steps instead of climbing up and purposely falling down the disappearing platform to collect that flower, for example. But since there is no reward or punishment for completing stages in a certain amount of time, some stages are little more than trial and error. Also, with no unlockables or leaderboards, there really is no staying power or sense of accomplishment.
Outside of the story mode, the player has the option to play an endless mode that is score based but built around a time restriction. This mode, however, is tedious and chore-like as collecting music notes in endlessly looping levels just isn’t fun.
For a game based around music, it is disappointing that only a few musical tracks are spread out throughout the final product. Worse yet, they all have the same exact beat so controlling this succubus never changes. Sure, this is nice because the player will never have to learn a new beat but it also makes the game repetitive after completing the first handful of stages. Graphically, the cute cartoony animations and sprites look a lot better in motion than they do in screenshots but there really isn’t any point in using the 3D mode.
Groove Heaven is a simple game that was designed more for younger gamers. Even though this is a cheaper alternative in comparison to some of the other music greats found in the 3DS library, it is hard to recommend when the gameplay is so short, tasteless, and clumsily designed.
Not As Good As: Final Fantasy Theatrhythm
Also Try: Rock Band Unplugged or Paperboy
On Par With: Zombie Slayer Diox
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com