Where would we be without the humble button press? It’s been part of gaming since time immemorial. In Rhythm Paradise Megamix, however, Nintendo has once again turned it into a fine art. You only ever have a maximum of two or three inputs in Megamix – usually A and occasionally the B button or D-pad – but never before has a single set of button taps felt so deeply pleasing and immensely satisfying.
Of course, this is old news to series converts; anyone who’s played a Rhythm Paradise game before will know this is one of the most refined Rhythm series ever created. With its bright, colourful art style, wacky sense of humour and uncompromising approach to perfect, musical time-keeping, each game – bar the misjudged touch controls of Rhythm Paradise on the DS – has been an absolute masterclass in simple, rhythmic pleasure, taking in everything from simple, on-the-beat melodies to fiendish, syncopated symphonies.
Megamix, however, is arguably the best one of the lot. It brings together the series’ finest into a single greatest hits album for the 3DS, making it the perfect game to perk up a gloomy commute or to take on the road. With more than 100 mini-games to its name, including at least 70 from previous entries in the series, Megamix is one party you’ll never want to end. Indeed, the game even has two fake endings before it eventually draws to a close, and each time I breathed a sigh of relief that I still had a few more hours to go until its dreaded final curtain call.
Like any compilation album, there are still a few duffers that don’t quite match up to the high standards of the rest of them (library cheerleaders, I’m looking at you). But in every other respect, Megamix gives several tracks a brand-new lease of life, not least the entries from the original Rhythm Tengoku on GBA, which was only ever released in Japan. While some of these made their way into Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise on the Wii, many have been left untouched, making Megamix a great way to revisit the series roots for both old and new fans alike.
The selection from Rhythm Paradise on the DS also gets a well-overdue makeover, as Megamix finally ditches its ill-fated touchscreen controls for some good, old-fashioned button presses. Tricky games such as Glee Club and Frog Hop, for instance, more often made me want to snap the DS’ stylus in half back in the day. However, the superior feedback offered by the 3DS’ buttons utterly transforms them here, with many of them becoming new, instant favourites thanks to their revamped control scheme.
Megamix isn’t simply a collection of games you’ve played before, though, since its excellent crop of new rhythm games rarely miss a beat. From the huge monkey slumber party and blue, gelatinous basketball court, to the bear who can’t stop munching cake and doughnuts as he deals with a heart-wrenching break-up, Megamix is both daft and moving in equal measure – and it was a rare moment indeed when I didn’t have an ear-to-ear grin plastered over my face while I was tapping my feet along with the music. I mean, when the sight of a cartoon mandrill cheering on a golfer makes your heart swell to ten times its normal size just because the music is so damn uplifting, you know there’s some kind of mad brilliance at work here.
Where Megamix really comes into its own, though, is its end of stage remixes. Think of these as musical boss battles, where you take on several games at once in a climactic mash-up challenge. Not only do they consolidate your skills in a single test of fancy thumb-work, but the way their bespoke songs also manage to blend everything together is a real testament to Nintendo’s musical ingenuity, making them apt rewards for your hours of practice.
They also really force you listen to their individual rhythms, since relying on muscle memory alone is no longer an option. You simply have to go with the flow and fly by the seat of your pants – the ultimate expression of Rhythm Paradise as a whole. Throw in the fact that the game’s soundtrack is available to play in both English and Japanese, and the entire game becomes that much sweeter.
With so many fantastic hits on its song sheet, Rhythm Paradise Megamix is one reunion act you won’t want to miss. It’s a fantastic celebration of the series’ past and present, and its tight focus on simple controls over finger-bleeding feats of technical skill means the music is always at the front and centre on any given stage.
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It’s pure, unbridled happiness in game form, and with hundreds of additional collectibles, solo and co-op challenges and a Perfect campaign to master, there’s plenty here to keep you strumming away long after you’ve tapped your way through the main story mode. It’s essential listening for all 3DS owners, and rightly wins a Best Buy award.
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