When Nintendo released Rhythm Tengoku Gold in Japan last year we didn't really give it much coverage. After all, we thought we knew what was going to happen. We'd play it, fall in love with it and gush about it in ONM, then everyone would get annoyed when it was ultimately never released in the UK. So imagine our surprise when Nintendo announced that it would indeed be coming out here, under the name Rhythm Paradise.
To be fair, you only need to take a look at the game to realise why we thought it'd stay in Japan. It's crazier than a gang of chipmunks pouring jam into a bag of spanners. What other game has jailbird storks pecking the ground, synchronised swimmers dancing with dolphins, a man who constantly swallows coloured ping pong balls and scientists shaking test tubes to release 'love' which then floats into a big box? Don't fret, we'll save you the thinking time - the answer is "none".
Thankfully, Rhythm Paradise is more than just a collection of weird mini-games, it's actually great fun too. It was developed by Nintendo R&D1, the team behind the WarioWare games, and it's pretty clear to see that series' influence here. While WarioWare sees you completing numerous 'micro-games' one after the other, Rhythm Paradise instead gives more focus to individual games, with each one lasting a couple of minutes.
These games aren't played like regular mini-games though. As the title suggests, it's all about the rhythm. Each game has its own song which plays in the background and in order to play each mini-game successfully you have to perform the required actions to the beat.
So you can work out exactly how much oil you have to use to fill a robot (as you do) by counting "one, two, three, four" to the beat and letting go at the right time, and can take photos of really fast sports cars driving past (which would otherwise be impossible) by snapping the camera to the beat of the music.
It's a really clever idea and one that's helped by the fact that all the songs are of the toe-tapping 'catchier than the flu' variety. You'll gladly play a game over and over to try for a perfect score simply because you'll really want to listen to a certain song again.
We do have concerns about the game's lifespan though. While there are 50 mini-games to choose from, if you have a good sense of rhythm you're likely to perfect them all within around six or seven hours. And as enjoyable as it is, once you've earned a 'perfect' rating for a song you're unlikely to play it again. Since there are no scores as such (either you've passed a game, passed it with a gold award or perfected it), there's no incentive to play them again and try to better your previous attempt.
Yes, there are a collection of unlockable high-score based games but these are so easy they pale in comparison to WarioWare's unlockable offerings like Pyoro and Dr Wario. They're fun, but they're so easy it's likely you'll actually get bored before you fail one of them for the first time. They're a nice addition but are really a case of style over substance.
There's also no multiplayer option either, which is a real missed opportunity. Craziness is always better when you're experiencing it with a mate, and without the ability to do that, Rhythm Paradise can sometimes feel like you're laughing at a joke that nobody else heard.
Still, that shouldn't put you off the game as a whole. Rhythm Paradise is the sort of title that you really do have to play. It's packed to the brim with bizarre Japanese charm and it's put together with the sort of expert production values you'd expect from a first-party, Nintendo-developed title. Every mini-game is fun to play, the music will have you humming away for days at a time and the whole thing's just so pleasingly absurd that it'll paint a big smile on your face for the duration of your gameplay session. It's just a shame it's all over so quickly.