Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure, one of the newer releases from co-developers Sega and Xeen, is a 3DS rhythm game that follows the adventures of Raphael as he and his pet dog, Fondue, traverse Paris trying to solve a mystery.
Glossing over the storyline, at the heart of this game are dance rhythm games. Often times you’ll be playing as Raphael or his alter ego Phantom R as he somehow utilises his dancing skills for good. As well as the dancing you’ll also find mini games where you are Phantom R sneaking into places, where by tapping the screen at the correct time you successfully allow Phantom to duck and hide behind strategically placed objects all the while sneaking into the Louvre. Another type of game that pops up somewhat frequently is where you play as Fondue attempting to impress a lady dog by mirroring her actions. These Fondue games are particularly hard to complete.
Rhythm Thief mini games have an annoying tendency to fail you relatively quickly. Oftentimes it felt like, only three or four notes where missed in a row before you were failed. Even if you were, up until that point, having a perfect game one missed move and you were ready to fail. However, the game does have a little menu before the start of the mini-game where you can buy items that will give you certain amount of leeway. These bonuses range from buying you extra time before you fail or for the truly gifted, you can buy one that will make things harder for you.
Throughout the game there are also collectibles you have to find in order to create additional items. One of these is the master instrument which, when played a certain sound, unlocks more levels of itself to be completed. The un-lockable notes, which are potentially hidden in the background of each place you visit, were a nice touch to the game and I found myself clicking wildly on every screen I came across. An important thing to note though is the way the gyroscopic controls have been integrated in the game, which is to say terribly. Every mini game that utilised this function was one that I dreaded. However it is good to know that these games are pretty rare occurrences, with the majority of the games being rhythm/puzzle centric.
The main thing that lets this game down is its story. Without giving away spoilers, Rhythm Thief starts off great, the opening delivered and it looks lovely. However it is as the story progresses that it slips away. This is in no way saying that the story is not engaging and that some of the characters offer real interest, it is merely the plot holes that stood out more. Things such as non-lethal bullet wounds, a blonde Napoleon and an ending that offers more questions than answers are what really ruffle the feathers. The ending is left just open enough to inspire a sequel, so hopefully in the near future we can re-visit Raphael and Phantom R.
On a final note, it should be mentioned just how beautiful this game is visually. The maps that are used to navigate Paris are given such detail and each different location that you visit are coloured so magnificently. The atmosphere and mood that the game creates is so incredible to interact with and encounter. Despite its short comings, Rhythm Thief is a pleasure to play.