What Is Rhythm Heaven?
Rhythm Heaven, known as Rhythm Paradise in Europe and Rhythm World in Korea, is a popular series of rhythm-based handheld games released by Nintendo in 2006 in Japan. Similar to other well known rhythm-based games like Taiko no Tatsujin or Dance Dance Revolution, the objective is to hit the buttons in time with the beat as much as possible with your fingers on a touch screen or stylus, depending on what version you have.
It’s previously been available on Game Boy Advance (Japan-only release), Nintendo DS, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS.
The first installation in the series was Rhythm Tengoku in 2006 – Tengoku can be translated roughly to ‘heaven,’ as the name it got in the later releases. The game, although short and not promoted much, was praised widely on the music, quirky sense of humor, and of course, gameplay.
Next came the Rhythm Heaven release in 2008 (2009 in North America) on the Nintendo DS, the first of the Rhythm Heaven games to be released internationally.
Rhythm Heaven Fever debuted on the Wii in North America in 2012, followed by the Wii U in 2016, and it was the first of the Rhythm Heaven games to feature a multiplayer mode. The most recent installation, Rhythm Megamix, was released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2016, as well.
How Do You Play Rhythm Heaven?
Part of the appeal and fun of Rhythm Heaven is the variety of mini-games, known as Rhythm Games in the franchise. Original animations featuring cute, funky cartoon characters paired with original musical compositions give the player hours of syncopated fun. The more Rhythm Games beat, the more Rhythm Games you can unlock, including some remixes.
The basic objective of tapping, swinging, clapping with the beat doesn’t change, but depending on the game, the way you do it may differ.
For example, Rhythm Heaven Fever’s Tambourine mini-game has a memory component. It has the player looking down at a cute little monkey holding a tambourine, which it then shakes or hits to a certain rhythm that the player has to mimic perfectly.
In Rhythm Heaven Megamix, the Airboarder minigame has the player rhythmically dodging, jumping, and sliding under building-block like structures as they – what else – airboard down a striped chute.
As of Rhythm Heaven Megamix, there’s about 90 Rhythm Games to choose from, as well as 10 remixes.
Ranking Unlocks Mini-games Within Mini-Games
Depending on how well you do, you get a ranking, of course – Try Again, OK, Superb, or Perfect, if you hit a Superb.
Superb will let you unlock all sorts of perks and goodies. In addition to new Rhythm Game stages, earning medals can also unlock Rhythm Toys, which are pretty much what they sound like – little low-stakes music games that are simply there to fool around with, with little to no objectives.
If you reach the Superb level, you can try for a Perfect ranking, in which you have to hit every single beat perfectly to clear the level. You get three chances to get that Perfect run locked in, or else the chance disappears and you will end up having to clear the level for a Superb ranking again.
Wii and Wii U Versions Allow Multiplayer Madness
The Wii and Wii U versions brought the multiplayer option in addition to single player in the form of Rhythm Heaven Fever.
Two people can play at a time, hitting the beats in tandem or completing certain parts of it to earn points toward a combined high score. If your combined score reaches a Perfect level, you can unlock additional multiplayer stages.
The late Satoru Iwata, former president of Nintendo, was very eager to see a multiplayer version realized so players could have their friends watch them fail (though he put it in a much nicer way).
The Burning Question: Will Rhythm Heaven Make the Switch?
The games’ popularity and success inevitably beg the question of when – not if – the Rhythm Heaven series will get a version for the Nintendo Switch.
Tsunku, the composer and producer of the Rhythm Heaven franchise, is wondering the same thing, and definitely is up and ready for it.
At the behest of a fan claiming a Nintendo Switch version was their only hope due to quarantine, Tsunku was seen on twitter in early April agreeing and exhorting fans to ‘raise their voices’ to show demand for Rhythm Heaven game for the Nintendo Switch.
At this time, Nintendo has not announced any plans for a Switch version of Rhythm Heaven, but there’s certainly demand for it.