Elite Beat Agents (DS) review
"What are the odds that a quirky and comic style music game released by a little known developer would be the best DS game of 2006? Well apparently very good, if Elite Beat Agents is anything to judge by. Elite Beat Agents comes very close to flawlessly combining colorful manga, beat dancing, and saving the world, while still creating an environment that is loads of fun. Developed by little-known company Inis, Elite Beat delivers an experience unlike anything you’ve probably played before. Furthe..."
What are the odds that a quirky and comic style music game released by a little known developer would be the best DS game of 2006? Well apparently very good, if Elite Beat Agents is anything to judge by. Elite Beat Agents comes very close to flawlessly combining colorful manga, beat dancing, and saving the world, while still creating an environment that is loads of fun. Developed by little-known company Inis, Elite Beat delivers an experience unlike anything you’ve probably played before. Furthermore, Nintendo shows why they chose to implement a touch screen, as without it the game simply isn’t possible.
Elite Beat exemplifies its weirdness through over the top cartoons for each level. Instead of one overall arching storyline the game is composed of fifteen separate short-stories. In each of them you are introduced to the characters as they undertake tough challenges. For instance, one level has you saving kids from a Golem and resurrecting a baseball career, while another has you guide a lost dog back home. So, how do you help these poor people? Why by dancing of course! Dancing provides people the motivation to succeed against all odds. Each story is unique, witty, funny, and told excellently. In only a minute you gain a great feel for the characters and their struggles.
These stories transition excellently into the great song selection that matches the colorful and light tone. With exception to “my inspiration” a love song, the songs are all upbeat pop punk beats that have you hopelessly singing along with them. Among these catchy tunes are “sk8er boi”, “YMCA”, and “Let’s Dance”. The pacing of the songs allows the game to get more difficult, but still enable you to keep up the beat. Because of the quick rhythms Elite Beat is able to allow you to just tap with the beat and smiling with its simplicity and sheer want to save the characters.
To keep the beat you’ll solely be using the touch screen. As the song plays, small circular targets appear on the screen with a larger shrinking around it. When this circle surrounds the target you tap the target. Depending how close the circle were you’re award points ranging from 0-300. Naturally, multiple targets begin to appear at once and you’ll have to rapidly move between targets. The other beat keeping mechanic used is a drag, where you tap a target and then guide a ball to the next target along a set-path. The speed and pacing of the ball is dependant on the song and it works well into further immersing you. These mechanics are mixed up perfectly and really cause you to pay attention to the beat and pace of each song.
Unfortunately, this brings up the game’s biggest flaw, the difficulty. The game ramps up the difficulty way too fast, even on the easiest mode of play. Each mission is also ranked on its difficulty, and there is a steep increase between D and S. When you finish a difficulty and move up to the medium or hard modes, it gets even tougher with targets appearing everywhere, while you relentlessly try to keep up. It winds up being a true test of patience and will power rather then fun and exciting. Initially there are two difficulties, but finishing difficulties unlocks harder stages. Furthermore, Elite Beat has 3 bonus stages, which are as good as the regular levels and tack on excellent replay value. As mentioned, you are ranked by performance after each level with a perfect “S” ranking unlocking a new picture that your human nature wants you to get.
Finally, there is co-op and competitive multiplayer modes. In Co-op you and a partner play through a song splitting the beats about fifty-percent each. This works rather nicely and alters the game enough to keep you interested and play through each song at least once. In a more competitive mode you play against each other on the same song against, trying to outscore your opponent. These battles can quite intense especially between two equal opponents, where a quality beat is the difference between a gleeful victory and a heartbreaking loss. The multiplayer isn’t the best the DS has to offer, but it’s fun and functional despite only share-play.
Quite Simply, Elite beat Agents takes a few really bizarre ideas and makes them all work almost perfectly. With the exception of the way too harsh difficulty the game is amazing. The art style is beautiful, the agents themselves look terrific, and the music is perfection. It combines the best aspect of many rhythm games and adds a ton of unique touches that only the DS could provide. Nintendo and Inis deliver one of the quirkiest, addictive, and most enjoyable games on the DS that no owner should be without.
Community review by ghostyghost (January 27, 2007)
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