Last Level Press

Review: Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

When I got my Nintendo 3DS for Christmas one of the first things I did was get it hooked up with an Internet connection. The next thing was probably go to the Nintendo eShop to see what games I could buy if I ever started a balance. It was there that I saw a demo for an interesting looking game that got my attention: a demo for a rhythm game about a dancing thief in Paris. After I played the three segments in the demo, I knew it was something I had to seek out and play in its entirety.

Rhythm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure is, as the name implies, a rhythm game where you play as a young man known as Raphael who lives in Paris, but moonlights as a sensation known as Phantom R, a thief who steals valuable artwork only to return it. When he steals an artifact known as the Bracelet of Tiamat from the Louvre only to discover that it has a strange symbol upon it that is similar to a coin his father left him, Phantom R not only finds himself on a quest to uncovering a centuries old mystery, but also the location of his long lost father. Oh, and someone stole Napoleon’s corpse, resurrected him, and now he wants to take over the world. Yeah, it’s gonna be one of those games.

The game itself is bright and very pleasing to the eye. The characters don’t go for much complexity in their design, but are eclectic, varied, and almost everyone has a name. As per usual, I didn’t really keep the 3D on for much of the game except for the animated cut scenes, which I must admit are well made, and don’t feel too jarring. However, there is little change in the character models to express emotion, but what does exist is typically used for drastic effect.

The voice work is decidedly average, and, unfortunately, can sound a bit off kilter at times. Though it’s not a terrible offense, the lack of consistency in the accents people use brings to question if there’s some accent joke being lost in translation from either Japanese or French: the main character has an American accent, some sound vaguely French, one character sounds British, and Napoleon sounds almost excessively stereotypical. Thankfully, the music is the highlight of the game since a rhythm game with subpar music would have made this a game a terrible experience. With SEGA veterans like Naofumi Hataya (Space Channel 5, NiGHTS) and Tomoya Ohtani (Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations) composing the soundtrack, it was in good hands. My personal favorite tracks would have to be “Moon Princess,” which is a violin piece which also features in one of my personal favorite rhythm segments in the game, and “Main Theme,” an energetic and jazzy tune that sets the player up for a good time.

Speaking of which, the controls for each rhythm segment can range from simplicity to rage-inducing frustration but essentially boils down to three basic schemes: button pressing, screen tapping, or stereoscopic. In button pressing, you must press either buttons or the control pad in a certain order to gain points for your ranking. In screen tapping, you must draw in a certain direction or tap to meet the rhythm. But stereoscopic is the perhaps the most frustrating because it involves you to physically move the 3DS either left, right, or forward. Thankfully, the use of the stereoscopic method is kept to a minimum and normally used when Phantom R is fighting someone fist to fist. As with any rhythm game, it’s not so much the controls you must master but the timing to get the highest possible score you can.

Rhythm Thief is certainly one of the more unique rhythm games you could choose to play since there is a large emphasis on story and adventure. It’s similar to the Professor Layton series in this regard: there is a larger story that you’re working through and there are rhythm segments throughout. The difference is that while you could knowingly skip puzzles or look-up the answers to particularly tough puzzles in Professor Layton, the completion of the rhythm games is in your best interest if you want to continue with the plot of Rhythm Thief. In a much starker difference from Professor Layton, the Paris of Rhythm Thief is a relatively accurate, if romanticized, depiction in that you can go to locations that actually exist from the famous Eifel Tower and Arc de Triumph to less touristy yet real locations such as FDR Station or the Sorbonne.

The game’s length can be seen as somewhat problematic since it clocks in at about seven to ten hours to beat. There is an after game mode where you can try to finish up what you didn’t do in the game proper, play rhythm segments you haven’t done, improve your score, and much more, but unless you really want to put your patience and the game through its paces, you probably might not see many replays of this game. Despite this, it’s still worth checking out since the game does end with a set-up for a sequel and could become a nice series of rhythm games. If you’ve liked SEGA’s past rhythm games like Space Channel 5, or enjoy rhythm games in general, this is worth looking for. If you’re not that big a fan of rhythm games, this hopeful start to a new series could change your mind. If nothing else, you could buy the soundtrack.

Rating: 6.6

Visuals: 7
Audio: 7
Controls & Mechanics: 6
Atmosphere & Experience: 7
Entertainment Value: 6

  Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

  Developer: Sega/Xeen

  Publisher: Sega

  Release Date (U.S.):  Jul 10, 2012

  Release Date (U.K.):  Apr 5, 2012

  Release Date (JP):  Jan 19, 2012

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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