Agetec presents a new kind of musical training game for the Nintendo DS that differs from all the other Rhythm based action styled games. Rhythm N’ Notes's music training goes from the beats to the perfect pitch recognition of minor and major chords. Bewared fun loving music fans, this is no Twinkle, Twinkle.
Rhythm N’ Notes isn’t what I expected when I pushed the cartridge into the back of my Nintendo DS. What I expected was a streamlined music experience that helps teach the player about music while challenging them along the way. I guess I believed Rhythm N’ Notes was going to be the Brain Age edition of music. Well, I was way off, and despite the developer (Success) intentions, Rhythm N' Notes fails in almost every aspect in presenting an enjoyable game.
In the games description it says it is the “perfect game for musicians who want to stay in practice or for those who want to learn music in a light and fun way”. Well, I’m a musician who knows a fair amount about music theory, notation, and rhythm, and Rhythm N’ Notes is not the perfect game to keep in practice, and even more depressing is that it doesn’t teach you music either. What Rhythm in Notes does is blasts a series of match games based on duplicating beat patterns or perfectly matching notes without reason.
One major downfall to Rhythm N’ Notes is that it’s void of instructions, or knowledge. There is no instruction on notes, scales, or chord theory. The developer automatically expects the player to be well versed in all areas of music. This game could have been so much more with a little instruction and a class or two on music. Besides training the ear, music can also involve the eyes and sight reading is an important part of music that could benefit any level of gamer.
In Rhythm N’ Notes favour, it can help you work on your timing with beat patterns, but for it to be effect in the real world, you would need to sit down with the game for hours upon hours. The "rhythm" section is fairly straight forward, even Cavemen can beat on a drum. (No offense drummers, I’m talking about straight one hit patterns). The beats don’t always stay basic, Success does there best to shake things up, but because of the follow the bouncing ball presentation, players can train their eye instead of measure counting. If you fall out of time your eye can adjust at the right time instead readjusting your timing. Besides it’s faults, the “Rhythm” section of Rhythm N’ Notes is the only section that is valuable to musicians. If you’re falling behind on your beats, Rhythm N’ Notes could be your shot in the dark.
The “Notes” section is on the opposite end, developed in an illogically without any coaching or direction for the player to learn. All the notes section does is blast chords at the players without being warmed up, learning scales, or individual notes, one at a time. One thing is true about the games description is that “the gameplay grows gradually more complicated as you progress”... man your not kidding. If your new to music theory, Rhythm N’ Notes shouldn’t be your first venture into the wonderfully world of EFGABCD.
For a deeper explanation of how the game is played, the touch screen is used as the games interface as you’re tested in your musical ability. In the rhythm section of the game you use the stylus to tap along matching the original beat that was played. This goes through two cycles and if you score 100% you can move on. The same concept is applied to the notes section with the same high stipulation, 100% or nothing. This can be tricking when nailing chords that consist of three notes. You really need to have a good ear to pick up and run through Rhythm N’ Notes. Actually you would pretty much need perfect perfect pitch to run find this game satisfying. For the other percentage of musicians, which is the greater half, progressing through the game comes down to trail and error, which in the end doesn’t teach you a thing.
For the presentation, Rhythm N’ Notes is filled with bright pastel colours onto of the bland. The best part of the visuals is the mascot Tsumami who has a strange antler head and gives child like emotional animations. Visually, Rhythm N’ Rotes doesn’t make an impact and that is alright, there is no need to come down on the graphic quality of Rhythm N’ Notes too much because graphics really don’t factor into the role of a game based on learning. Admittedly better graphics could have used more spice to help push gamers through the experience, but it’s not a necessity.
The quality of the sound is decent enough, but it’s no where near where it could have been. More sounds other then the Piano would have been nice, for example the ability to change the sound into a guitar, organ, or any instrument found one a simple $99 keyboard would have sufficed. This could have made learning a little more fun and personally interesting if the user could have changed it up from the Piano.
Rhythm N’ Notes for the Nintendo DS feels like a rock being repeatedly bashed over your head. There is almost no appeal or feeling of accomplishment while being tortured by the games harsh perfection expectations and unexplained gameplay. The only way you’ll get something out of Rhythm N’ Notes is if you stick with it and accept the blunting.
Besides, the “match the beat” aspect of Rhythm N’ Notes you will likely only progress musically through repetition and not actually knowledge. Rhythm N’ Notes is a failed attempt at a game that could have found a niche market and helped teach, and improve your music skills. It’s unfortunate that the bell has tolled and Rhythm N’ Notes fails its own high standards.
Gameplay: 3, Graphics/Sound: 3, Innovation: 2, Mojo: 2. Final: 2.5 / 10