E10 (Everyone 10+)Release Date:
November 8, 2006Written By:
Because of the differing nature of music from culture to culture, usually when a popular rhythm game from Japan is brought to the US, it is put through an unusual localization process that often replaces entire song lists and, in the case of Inis's Elite Beat Agents, essentially creates an entirely new game based off of the same basic layout of Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! to create a new American game that, while possibly drawing resentment from fans of the original version, may yet be appreciated by more casual consumers who happen to take notice of it.
In the game you serve as a squad of what are called Elite Beat Agents – special agents who travel the globe, helping to motivate people to conquer their problems through song. After selecting a target on the world map and watching a little skit on what the person's problem is, you engage in a rhythm game with a particular song as you watch the person deal with the problem based on your performance.
Although the tracklist in this game is frankly a sort of love-it-or-hate-it deal, including a lot of classic music like the Village People but also more current, popular music like Avril Lavigne and Destiny's Child, the core rhythm gameplay from Ouendan still remains here and is still as compelling as ever.
In the game the player must tap points on the touch screen in sequence based on numbers that appear on the points, with rhythm and timing based on the distance between the points and circles to highlight when each point should be tapped. There are also other devices in each song such as little balls that must be dragged along a track at just the right speed and direction to match the rhythm. Although this system lacks the sheer physicality of something like DDR, it is indeed a very solid system that succeeds in bringing you into a song in the proper fashion of a rhythm game, but in a way that only the Nintendo DS can, and better yet, it's incredibly easy to pick up, making it feel even more at home on the portable.
Elite Beat offers a pretty nice variety of difficulty levels, though the overall difficulty does ramp up more quickly than in most games, even at the very easiest setting the later levels can get seriously difficult.
As you play through each song you are shown little comic book skits of the characters you are trying to motivate as their story moves along accompanied by full 3D models of the Agents dancing based on your performance. Being adapted from the manga-style skits of Ouendan, the overall style of Elite Beat Agents does attempt to emulate that game's style but in a very Americanized form, in the end coming off as looking sort of like an Americanized 4kids anime adaptation that retains a bit of the apparent randomness you might see in a parody anime like Cromartie High or Excel Saga.
Throughout the game you might help a retired baseball player get his groove back by saving a kid from a giant volcano golem with his baseball skills, or motivate the white blood cells inside a person’s body to kill a disease, or even help a pair of Hilton Sisters look-alikes survive on a deserted island. Surprisingly, these skits do succeed in evoking a pretty broad range of emotions ranging from outright laughter to just plain "wtf" and even a couple that are a bit touching.Bottom LineOsu! Tatake! Ouendan! and now Elite Beat Agents, is the title that takes the rhythm genre and successfully brings it to the Nintendo DS in a fashion most befitting the platform. The game is quick, challenging, and easy to pick up, has a very broad appeal, and works under a control system only possible on the Nintendo DS. For some this just may be another DS killer app.Score8.8/
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