Reviewed by Jimmy | 12.04.06
They are the elite of the beat and they are coming to set your roof on fire. Elite Beat Agents is an original rhythm based game that can only be found on Nintendo's DS platform. Hey Tonto! Get On it, here our review of Elite Beat Agents.
Did someone tell Nintendo to shake their moneymaker because Elite Beat Agents is off the hook dropping beats on the Nintendo DS. Elite Beat Agents uses tap rhythm gameplay on top of a unique storyline with carton inspired visuals. The poster boys for Elite Beat Agents are the three agents featured on the cover art who stole their wardrobe from Dan Aykord and John Belushi. These agents can solve any problem with a few fancy dance moves and a song from a top 40 artist. Wouldn't the world be better if these guys really existed?
If you want to get down with the Agents you'll be sent into the field as an Elite Beat Agent helping those in need. Commander Kahn leads the group and is an unlockable character later in the game. Kahn should be the spokesman for intensity because this guy looks like he downed a few red bulls topped off with a gallon of coffee. Kahn will send you out into the world for the first mission then it will be your choice who you will help. When you start Elite Beat Agents only two skill levels are open, Crusin' and Breezin' which translates to easy and normal. Crusin' is represented by agent "J' who is up front in the middle of the group on the cover and Breezin' features agent "Spin" who can be easily spotted because of his headphones.
When you begin Elite Beat Agents I would suggest starting on easy with Agent Spin because this tapathon is surprisingly challenging. The first mission with Don trying to score is the easiest in the whole game and the challenges seemed to amp up quickly. I mentioned there are only two levels, but once you master them you will unlock two other modes, Hard Rock! And Sweatin' I didn't make it that far, but I assume you'll need to be quick with the stylus to complete those modes.
The gameplay in Elite Beat Agents is fairly standard once you get rolling. You basically tap the screen to the beat when a circle closes in on a numbered target. These circles move in variety of speeds and you can have a few on the screen or several. Timing is the key in Elite Beat Agents and this is my major problem with the game. For a rhythm based game the syncopation between the song and the targets isn't always on. If you simply time your hits with the tempo of the song you'll notice this. The game is more like Elite Visual Agent because you'll be watching the circles to time you hits rather than the song. This is a big problem that really set me back a bit and might even cause me to dislike the game if it wasn't so whacky.
Even with the timing being off Elite Beat Agents still can be fun even if you're using your eyes more than your ears. The storylines in the mini-missions are absolute insane and a lot of fun. The art style is great which makes Elite Beat Agents is hit. The top part of the screen shows the storyline most of the time and the bottom is the game screen where you're 3D Agents dance as you tap. The two styles of 3D and cartoon line art compliments each other surprisingly well. If you can take the time to watch the story during the few milliseconds in-between hits you'll be entertained. This is why the replay button is a great idea, so you can see the madness that unfolded while you play.
The levels are broken down between several parts and the story moves along according to your progress. At times not making a goal will end your game and then others you get a few chances. It's good we don't have any long epics by Pink Floyd on the disc because you will likely be replaying each level a bit. So beyond the stories that are strange and fun we have the music which goes from Sum 41 (Word Up Ajax) to funk mega band Earth, Wind and Fire.
Now that I'm ready to tackle the song list I have to clarify something off the bat. These are karaoke remixes of the real songs which was a huge let down. In principle it's just not cool and its unfortunate Nintendo couldn't grab the licenses for the original song. If you didn't know some of these tracks could pass without you noticing, but if you actually know the song you'll hear the difference. In total we have 15 Karaoke versions of songs with three that can be unlocked. For content I was a fan of a large number of these artists, so it pained me to hear this Millie Vanille tribute.
Here is a rundown of some of the bands that consequently like, we have Canadians Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne with their hits "Makes No Difference" and "Sk8er Boi" then Elite Beat Agents go old school classic rock with David Bowie, Chicago and Deep Purple. Aside from the other top forty garbage like Ashlee Simpson and Good Charlotte we have some straight up funk from Earth, Wind, and Fire, Jamiroquai and the Jackson Five. If the soundtrack wasn't so awesome from the get go I might be able to pass up this mockery, but it is. and I can't let that fact go. It must be the musician in me.
Elite Beat Agents is a one of a kind game that is original and fun. The formula and design of Elite Beat Agents is wild with the music, touch screen and cartoon drugged up stories. All this is good, but Elite Beat Agents has some bad. The bad is awful syncopation between the tap points and the music and the use of Karaoke music in place of the real artist's songs. I'm not going to write off Elite Beat Agents because there is a lot of entertainment value here and it's a fun addictive game. For the music lovers, and musicians, you might not groove in the same time signature as these off time Beat Agents.
Gameplay: 7.5, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 6. Final: 7 / 10
Fun Concept and Gameplay, Great Visual Style and Presentation, Challenging
Bad Syncopation, Not Original Artists, Might Be Too Challenging
As the music plays, players tap the screen, trace rhythmic patterns and keep the beat as the story unfolds on the top screen.
Every scene is accompanied by rump-shaking tunes, but players have to keep the Elite Beat Agents grooving. The worse players do, the worse the story might end up.
Rhythm games have come and gone, but no one has ever seen anything like the Elite Beat Agents. Whether they're helping a lost dog find its way home or helping a babysitter charm a hunky football player, no crisis is too weird.