If nothing else, Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise is persuasive proof of the importance of context. Break it down to its absolute basics and you've got a game in which you do nothing more than press the A button, or occasionally A and B together.
We often berate games that reduce the player to a spectator during their most spectacular moments, with the occasional button-prompt to maintain the illusion of control. It turns out, though, that you can make a brilliantly entertaining game with just one or two buttons: all you need is a little bit of rhythm and a lot of heart and soul. Oh, and monkeys. Lots of monkeys.
Beat The Beat is the follow-up to the 2009 DS title, Rhythm Paradise, though it's actually the third game in the series, with the original Rhythm Tengoku (the latter word translates as Heaven) failing to escape Japan. For our money, that first game was superior to its DS counterpart: its button controls were more precise than the swipes and flicks required in the stylus-led sequel and it had a marginally better soundtrack.
Paradise's English localisation had a negative effect on a few of the songs, with wishy-washy lyrics and half-hearted vocals. Tapping along to an upbeat J-Pop hit was great fun in the Japanese game; whether it's an accurate translation or not, "I'm too shy, I suppose" is not the most thrilling hook.
Thankfully, Nintendo of Europe has decided to include the Japanese language track as a bonus feature for us patient PAL gamers who've had to wait five months since the US release. Yet it wouldn't be a deal-breaker without it - this time the localisation is much better, and in one or two cases, the English voices are more amusing. There's something wonderfully ridiculous about leading a cheerleading squad for hard-working students with a cry of, "Let's go read a buncha books," or hearing an Eskimo bark, "Five flipper rolls!" at a troupe of performing seals.
Beat The Beat's absurdity that might just be its greatest strength. On one stage, you'll be jabbing a fork downwards to spear peas being flicked at you from distance. Then you'll find yourself in the role of a factory worker packing sweets into boxes while swatting spiders away. You'll blow up an inflatable boxer to jab a punchbag full of screws, or whack golf balls hurled by a mandrill to a distant island. By the time you get to Board Meeting, you're no longer surprised that Nintendo's idea of a business presentation is four pigs in sunglasses performing a routine of synchronised spins on office chairs.
To accomplish all this, you'll mostly need just one button: A. The game will briefly train you in the beat you need to follow - you'll get a handful of visual and aural prompts you need to respond to rhythmically - and then you're away.
Occasionally, you'll be asked to hold A and B together (to screw in the head of a toy robot, say, or to crouch before jumping in a marching band of birds), but you don't have to worry about anything else: just match the beat, and you're in with a chance of passing. A Superb rating (and an accompanying medal) is awarded for the best performances, while a few mistakes will usually get you the 'OK' rating; with this you can still try the next stage, but you won't be any closer to unlocking any of the bonus rhythm toys or endless games.
Mess up badly, however, and you'll have to try again - though it's often more fun when you do. Press too early when mimicking the rhymes of a female MC and your rapper will say the words in a high-pitched voice. In our case, this provoked a giggle that subsequently turned into shoulder-shaking spasms of laughter as the rest of the lines were delivered in a deep baritone instead, our timing having been completely thrown.