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Rhythm Tengoku (リズム天国, lit. "Rhythm Heaven" or "Rhythm Paradise") is a music video game (rhythm action game) developed by Nintendo SPD. It was released in Japan on August 3, 2006, and was the last game developed by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. The game received an Excellence Prize for Entertainment at the 10th annual Japan Media Arts Festival in 2006. Although this game was never released outside of Japan, a sequel entitled Rhythm Tengoku Gold was released for the Nintendo DS on July 31, 2008, and was released internationally as Rhythm Heaven in North America, Australasia, and as Rhythm Paradise in Europe.
Rhythm Tengoku's quirky visual style and gameplay bears similarities to the WarioWare series. Each level is a minigame which requires the player to perform certain actions in sync with the rhythm to create a beat to go along with the background music. For instance, in one level, a beat is created by hitting numerous baseballs as they pass across the screen. If the player is unable to match the correct timing, they receive a "half hit" or "miss" rating. These misses are counted and used to determine a pass-or-fail score. Many of the other minigames involve similar activities that require the player to rely on the rhythm of the background music for timing. The highest total score attainable in the game is 140 points. In order to receive this score, the player must complete every single minigame in one try without missing the timing by 1/60th of a second.
The game is divided into separate stages, each consisting of ten levels. Only the first level in the first stage is available at the start of the game. The player can achieve three basic rankings (Redo, Mediocre, or High Level) upon completing a game. A new level will be unlocked if the player gets the Mediocre or High Level rating on a level. Getting a High Level on a level earns a medal which, when accumulated, unlocks bonuses such as Endless Games and Rhythm Toys. There are six levels in each stage; the sixth being a remix version of the other five levels, where it combines the game mechanics of the previous five levels (ex: 1st remix may be Marcher one moment, but Karate Man the next). There are eight stages in the game, and 48 levels in total. The levels are generally played through to the end, with the exceptions of the 'Night Walk' levels, which will end prematurely with a Redo rating if the player falls or hits an electric fish. You can also fail the 'Quiz Show' Level prematurely and need to redo it if you make even one mistake, even in the tutorial.
The "Perfect Campaign" mode appears if a randomly chosen minigame has a High Level rating on it. Getting a "miss" at any point in this mode will end the "Perfect Play", but the player may try up to three times at once, then continue on to other levels without penalty. If the entire minigame is completed without a single miss, a certificate is displayed on screen. However, it changes to a different game or disappears after it is played three times (i.e. when any game has been selected from the menu three times). Completing the Perfect Campaign for all 48 levels will unlock one more special certificate, as well as all songs in the game for use in the "Drum Mode", where all you do is press different buttons to drum.
Rhythm Tengoku was released in Japan only, during the summer of 2006 for the Game Boy Advance. The mastermind behind the game was Kazuyoshi Osawa. Osawa was unsure if everyone would like it, due to the lack of a music score appearing on the screen, which was uncommon for a rhythm video game and may not be understood by players. He stated that they tried everything they could to prevent this, but could not be sure until it was released. Due to it being released late in the Game Boy Advance's life, some were questioning why it was developed for that platform as opposed to the Nintendo DS. Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, recalled that while many people were interested in the Nintendo DS, Osawa was intent on making a game that could simply be played with buttons. Osawa himself stated that he wanted to create something that could be taken anywhere, and could be played on a small screen.
Ko Takeuchi was a graphic designer for Rhythm Tengoku, and along with Osawa, he was involved in its development in its early stages. Takeuchi stated that during development, Tsunku, who supervised the game, suggested that they learn to dance, resulting in the development staff going to Tokyo. Osawa commented that the dance lessons were fun. Tsunku stated that he wanted to improve Japanese people's sense of rhythm with this game. A stage in Rhythm Tengoku which involves plucking facial hair from onions and other vegetables used to feature a realistic human face, but this was determined to be too creepy. The onions were recreated as character goods by Takeuchi.
An arcade version of the game was released on September 20, 2007. This version was developed by Nintendo and Sega, the latter which came to Nintendo, offering to collaborate on this title due to it being popular amongst the development staff from Sega that worked on it. However, Osawa could not make a decision on this. When he asked Iwata about it, Iwata gave the go ahead immediately. Masami Yone, who worked on the sound design for Rhythm Tengoku, also participated in the arcade game's design, explaining that while the audio was the same, the different mechanics between arcade games and console games, adjustments had to be made. The arcade game contains a two-player mode, where the closeness between the two players is rated at the conclusion of the game based on their performance. The format of the game is identical to the GBA version, and the games themselves are exactly the same as in the GBA version of the game, with the exception of "tempo up" mode, where the games are played at twice the regular speed.
Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, commented that while it did not receive much attention before its release, it was very well received by consumers. Video game designer Frank Latz listed Rhythm Tengoku amongst his five favourite games. Johnathan Leo of GameAxis Unwired praised it in its preview of Rhythm Heaven, praising it as both charming, quirky, and challenging.
- ↑ Japan Media Arts Plaza. Retrieved on 2008-02-08.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Iwata Asks - Rhythm Heaven. Rhythm Heaven.com. Retrieved on 2009-07-07.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Iwata Asks - Rhythm Heaven (2). Rhythm Heaven.com. Retrieved on 2009-07-07.
- ↑ Fullerton, Tracy. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. p. 143.
- ↑ Leo, Johnathan (September 2008). "Rhythm Tengoku Gold". GameAxis Unwired. "The GameBoy Advance prequel, Rhythm Tengoku, turned heads with its quirky charm and challenging gameplay which involves you pressing buttons in sync with the beat of the background music."