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Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure

Rhythm Thief is like a combination of Layton and Space Channel 5. Set in Paris, you move a character around the city from location to location, talking to other characters and playing games to progress. In Layton these games are puzzles; in Rhythm Thief they're (unsurprisingly) rhythm games - listening for a scale of notes, tapping in time, or responding to or repeating movements.

It's charming, even if the story is a bit weak. Some of the rhythm games are pretty difficult, but it's never the game's fault when you fail.

One amusing thing is that the on-screen text doesn't always match up to the spoken words. Challenged by Napoleon on the tower, he gave an evil laugh. On the screen, he said "Ooh hoo hoo!". Charlie, the detective's son, has a comedy cockney accent; the text read "roam free", he said "runnin' rampant". Of course, this may be the case with other handheld games but I very rarely play them with sound on. This demands that I do - and the soundtrack is great.

I can't find the existing thread - if you want to discuss the game start one!

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Theatrythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

If you asked me what my favourite rhythm game was, I'd say Rock Band, or Rhythm Tengoku, or Osu! Tatake! Ouendan. Theatrythm isn't as good a rhythm game as any of those, and yet somehow it's better than all of them at the same time.

It has different strengths.

That's not to say that it's a bad rhythm game, because it's not. There are a few modes, local and online multiplayer (with status effects!), a quest mode, a different kind of quest mode, the traditional "pick a song and go" mode. There are three main ways to play songs which feel completely different while still being familiar. Notes come in from the left and when they pass a marker at the right, you tap, or slide, or hold, and you hope for that "critical" rating to appear. The timing is pretty lenient for much of the game which will be a turn-off for some, perhaps, but for those of us who can't perfect timing to within a millionth of a second in rhythm games, it makes for a really nice experience. Sure, the game's pretending I'm better than I am, but isn't that what we want? That's not to say it's easy, though, I've played this thing for over 60 hours and there are still Ultimate scores I haven't beaten - of course, that's because in 60 hours I've barely scratched the surface.

The game is incredibly generous is in its content, and in the sheer amount of stuff that goes on. There are over 200 songs from Final Fantasy in the basic package, which doesn't even cost £15 at this point. There are then over a hundred more songs on top of that as DLC from both Final Fantasy and other Square-Enix titles like Chrono Trigger, NieR, Xenosaga, and somewhat bafflingly, and entirely awesomely, Live A Live. And others.

What Theatrhythm recognises is that in most rhythm games, the player isn't rewarded for finishing a song. You'll get a few more points than you got before, maybe, and then that's it, on to the next song. Where Theatrhythm truly excels is in understanding that the player should earn something for beating a song, because that's what keeps them playing more songs, and Theatrhythm has crazy amounts of stuff to unlock. At the end of each song you'll earn EXP which levels up your characters, earns you new skills, more HP, you know how levelling up works, and this makes harder songs more achievable. It also means you can kill more bad guys during a song's length, earning you more EXP the next time you play. You'll earn items which you can take into battle in your next song which again can make things easier, harder, teach you new skills, or a variety of other effects. You'll earn "rhythmia," based on your performance, and you can use this to unlock new songs, new characters, new text for your Proficard (a little card with stats and stuff on which you share via streetpass) and a bunch of other stuff. There are nearly 500 trading cards to collect which go into a little folder thing you can flick through. You can also use these cards to upgrade your stats beyond each character's maximum. There are "critical charts" to fill, whereby each song is broken down into 20 blocks, and if you all-crit a block, it turns gold on the critical chart. Fill every block through repeated plays and you earn a crown for that song, the number you've got is on your Proficard. There are 100 trophies to earn, which are kind of like achievements for doing specific things. And, and, and...

I know I've gone on and on, but that's kinda the point, I guess. There's so much to find and earn in Theatrhythm that there's never a wasted moment. Every song you complete, even if you've completed it 100 times before, counts towards something. And that's why I'm still playing it.


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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

A 2D Metroidvania, mixing elements of the classic SotN-style 'vanias with the new GoW-style Lords of Shadow games. It works surprisingly well, with a great sense of place, atmosphere and combat strategy. And a little bit of backtracking. The graphics and ambient sound are gorgeous also. Got a lot of bad press due to the fact it scrapped the RPG-lite aspects of the DS games and lacked the (admittedly awesome) BGM, but don't be fooled; this is a wonderful little game that's had a lot of care and attention put into it. Play it for the Scottish accents if nothing else.

+1 if I may for Theatrhythm - kept me hooked!

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

A witty, entertaining slice of courtroom drama packed with enjoyable characters and improbable cases. Or should that be improbable characters and enjoyable cases? You'll get the most out of this if you've played the previous Phoenix Wright games (if you haven't, good news! The original trilogy is also available on the eShop, sharpened up for 3DS), but even without that it comes highly recommended, with the story standing alone just fine; you'll just miss a bit of the setup, and won't enjoy the callbacks as much.

But you'll want to play the originals first anyway, because they're brilliant.

Anyway, Dual Destinies is an eminently likeable game, benefiting from excellent writing (and translation work), more twists than than a Quavers production line and some solid sleuthing. It seems to go vastly unappreciated in Europe for some reason, so do your bit to redress the balance, eh?

Oh, and the music is ace and 3D effect is lovely, so y'know, there's that.

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Game Freak's attempt at a rhythm platformer, and it turned out pretty good! It's fairly cutesy and nothing too special in regards to plot (yes it has one), nor does it quite reach the highs of Threatrhythm nor the DS classic Ouendan. The beat is a fair bit more visual then the counterparts mentioned as your hitting enemies, jumping and platformy things in general along the way.

For what it is however, I commend the fact the Pokemon guys not only did something new, but brand new IP to go with it. They've shown themselves to be a talented bunch.*

It gets pretty tough too, and rewards more levels for high ranks. I should go back to finish it actually...

*Don't worry GF fans, you unlock a few Pokemon tracks to play too.

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Shovel Knight

Retro platforming goodness with some light RPG elements. A loving homage to classic NES platformers, but with gorgeous graphics and sound.

Zelda: Link Between Worlds

Handheld Zelda games are the best and this is the best handheld Zelda game since Link's Awakening. Same setting as Link to the Past and has a bit more of an open world approach than some of the other handheld Zeldas, as most of the items are available from the start allowing you to tackle the dungeons in whatever order you see fit.

Picross e/e2/e3 etc etc

It is Picross, what is there not to love? The only thing I have sunk more hours into is Animal Crossing.

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Kid Icarus: Uprising

It's just ace. Don't listen to the whining about the controls as they're 99% fine (I have jumped off a ledge or two by accident, but nothing worse than any other game I've played). They're unique and it will take a bit of getting used to.

It's one of the funniest, most well-written, comprehensive and enjoyable storylines I've experienced in a game, the graphics are spectacularly good, the music is sublime and the level of polish is incredible.

Just don't try and hold the 3DS in one hand while you play it. Rest it on the edge of a desk or your bag or knee or anything else you can.

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Disney Frozen: Olaf's Quest

Exceptional platforming action with an almost endless amount of levels and collectables. Level design is outstanding; and Olaf's huge array of special abilities makes the whole journey through Arendalle one of the most memorable in recent years. Comedy fun is enjoyable throughout and will have even the most stubborn of gamers laughing with joy. Voice acting performance (and killer soundtrack) combined with vibrant graphics show that Disney really know what they are doing.

Probably one of the best handled licenses ever seen on a gaming platform.

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Less discussion, more games!

Gunman Clive

When asked to name a cowboy, I'd probably go for Hank, Clint, or Joe. You'd have to get pretty far down the list before you got to 'Clive'.

Gunman Clive is a charming 2D platform shooter, with the graphics looking as if they've been pencil drawn although they're actually 3D models. The gameplay is pretty simple, jumping and shooting in straight lines, which is particularly annoying when your character can only shoot horizontally but enemies can shoot diagonally. At times there's a puzzle aspect, working out how to get to a location you can shoot from without being killed. Once you finish the game there's another mode which completely changes the way you play the game.

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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

My first entry into the Layton genre. The story gripped me without needing to have played the others and fueled my completionist desire to solve all the puzzles. Then Nintendo kept offering more puzzles to download!! Nice use of the 3d but it was never necessary to complete any of the puzzles. Plus it was a tenner in HMV. Worth hunting down.

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A puzzle game, where you get the idea that they started with the concept of things coming out of and going into the 3D screen, and worked from there. You have three layers of depth and you have to move shapes of blocks forward and backwards so you can stand on top of them, eventually making your way to the top of the screen (or a particular point). It starts off simple, but very quickly you are having to ensure that you have a platform at least two deep so that you can move another block from the side and extend that out to layer three so that you can go back around and jump on the top. It's complicated.

Full of Nintendo charm, with characters with bottoms on their chins.


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Any decent shmups?

1. Kokuga. Directed by ex-Treasure wunderkind Hiroshi Iuchi, Kokuga is an overhead tank shooter with an open, branching level structure, a card-based power-up mechanic, pretty amazing boss fights and an overriding 'VR'-esque aesthetic (most of the levels serve as training for the lengthier 'real life' stages). It's classy as fuck and well worth the more premium price it dictates.

2. 3D Fantasy Zone: Opa Opa Bros. This is a recent addition to the collection of enhanced arcade ports of '80s Sega classics. Stunning, personality-laden visuals, glorious FM audio work, tough (but balanced) gameplay, carefully considered fan-service, difficulty-smoothing and innovative content to unlock. Really, the devs went way above the remit with this, being that it's the best version of very special, age-defying game all for the price of a pint. Enjoy this prior to the 'true' follow-up's release in April!

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Cave Story 3D

A wonderful 8bit style adventure,that reminds of Metroid and Exile. Its a reworking of the original title, with 3D back grounds and remixed music. The core game remains as it ever was. Which is to say, platforms, shooting, and exploration.

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  • 7 months later...

Super Smash Bros for 3DS

Awful name, yes. What's more, Nintendo have uncharacteristically attempted to recreate the full console version on the handheld, trying for feature parity, meaning this feels like a bit of an also-ran when compared to the Wii U version. It's best when games on handheld platforms are designed for those platforms - see Super Mario Land, Metroid 2, Link's Awakening, Sonic Pocket Adventure ...

But even a second-rate Smash game is sublime. The character roster is huge, and the gameplay is balanced like no other.


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