More and more often when we talk about Kinect games, we’re talking about hybrids. They can be difficult to categorise, and even more difficult to judge in terms of quality. With Konami’s Rhythm Party though, that isn’t the case.
You see, Rhythm Party is designed to be a dancing game – albeit one that allows freer-form dancing that we’ve seen before. But while it does that well, it also feels an awful lot like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved’s “Wall Breaker” activity, and gives you a workout to match.
Once you’re through the initial menus – which can be thankfully be controlled with a regular controller, given that they aren’t massively responsive when using Kinect – you’ll be asked to choose one of ten songs. The usual Konami mix of energetic J-Pop and licensed tracks appear, including cuts from the likes of Vanilla Ice, Bobby Brown and – surprisingly – Lady Gaga. DLC is promised to extend the list, if that takes your fancy. You’re represented onscreen in the same way as in Your Shape, although in Rhythm Party, you can apply several different filters to your character – pixellation, rainbow colours and so on - so if you don’t want to, you don’t need to be staring at yourself for hours as you play.
And then, the game begins. Circles – known as “Ripples” in the game – appear all around you, and you have to hit them with your hands or feet as a green marker passes through them. The marker hits the ripple right on the beat of the song, so once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you really are dancing, and you can do it in any way you like. Feeling a bit jazzy? Hit that hip-level ripple with a jumping kick from your off-side leg. Fancy mixing it up? Punch across yourself with your right arm and smash that marker on your left. Anything you can dream up, you can effectively do here – as long as you hit the markers on the beat.
Every successful move is known as a “trick”, and you can spice up gameplay even further by adding more complicated moves to the mix. Moving your hips or head to the rhythm of the song will gain you a bonus, as will hitting jumping moves, spinning moves, or posing when the game tells you to. Should a ripple marker with an arrow appear, you need to hit the marker in that direction with a slashing move – a little like Fruit Ninja. And these moves are the only ones that cause any real trouble, response wise. When you start out, you can only access the “Light” difficulty level for each track. These are all easy enough to beat with a decent score, but then you’ve three more levels to unlock on each song. As soon as you start having to hit multiple slicing manoeuvres, the game tends to judge a fair few of them as missed attempts, when you honestly and truly have hit the spot.
But, that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment that Rhythm Party provides. Hardcore Bemani fans may well turn their noses up at such a prospect but as soon as they give it a go, they’ll get that old addiction back, and will be trying to beat their best scores or perform flashier and flashier moves until they’re the kings of the dancefloor once more. Non-hardcore players are well catered for too, as Rhythm Party is perfectly accessible to all.
With the minimum of promotion, we didn't expect much for our 800 MSP with this one. But, the proof is in the pudding, and not only did we get an incredibly fun experience, but we got a really decent workout too! The harder levels will keep hardcore players enthused for hours – and will probably test them to their limits. The setlist could be more expansive and varied but for the price, this is great value.