Monday, January 1, 2007

Elite Beat Agents Review

iNis Creates A Rhythm Action Classic

System: Nintendo DS Developer: iNis Publisher: Nintendo

Man is this game wicked hard, but man am I having a fun time with it. EBA is a Americanized port of iNis' previously designed DS game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Just like in that game you are asked to tap dots that appear on the screen in sync with the music. It starts simple, but quickly ramps up in difficulty. The design and gameplay are the same between the two, but the songs are different. Whereas Ouendan was covered in J-pop tunes, this rendition is filled with American radio hits of the last thirty years.

Surprise, surprise the songs do work. Most of the them seemingly blend in with the stage creating a smooth groove hard to shake off. I never imagined myself singing along to Ashlee Simpson's "La La" or to the guilty ballad "You're the Inspiration" by Chicago, but I am and enjoying it. There are two dozen songs to play through on your first go, but diligent players can unlock more if they tackle the game's many difficulties.

It'll take practice and patience to do just that. The game starts appropriately easy followed by the medium, hard, and expert levels. Expert is so tough it feels like you are playing against the '92 Dream Team. Only rapid fast reflexes, sense of rhythm, and blind luck will help you here. But like a true classic the game never crosses the line between frustration and fun. I found myself constantly saying, "Dammit I was so close! I almost had it. One more try, one more try!"

It's there that you realize how great the game is. It's like John Travolta entering the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. Once he starts moving his hips there is no holding him or this game back from hipster cool greatness.

Defining Moment: Right before you begin the searing finale "Jumpin' Jack Flash", the game pumps you up. All the characters you helped start a slow chant "EBA, EBA, EBA!", before the guitar riff comes crashing in electrifying all your nerves.


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