Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Elite Beat Agents


If ever a game was quirky, Elite Beat Agents is one of the quirkiest. It's a music-rhythm game, but you won't find arrows or colored gems here. Instead, you'll be tapping and dragging your stylus along the bottom screen while fun comic book-style animations play out on the top screen. What's that? It sounds goofy? Kiddy? Bereft of challenge? WRONG. This. Game. Will. Make. You. Its. Bitch.
Being able to survive Through the Fire and the Flames on expert in Guitar Hero 3 means nothing in EBA, which deviates wildly from other games in the genre. Numbered circles pop up on the bottom screen, surrounded by rings. These rings begin to shrink, and you need to tap the circles in order when the size of the ring equals that of the circle. You'll also drag your stylus along curved paths and occasionally spin a wheel by frantically circling your stylus. This is all synced up with the beat of music, and controls perfectly. It's very intuitive, but takes time to master, and if you want to beat the game, mastery is mandatory.

In most rhythm games, your success meter drops only when you miss notes, but in EBA, it's constantly decreasing. It's pretty manageable in most stages, even on the hardest setting, but the final stages are where the game breaks you. The bar drains so quickly that five seconds of inactivity would mean failure. Missing a few times will likely end the game, and you'd make all those people you're trying to help very sad. I forgot to mention the premise of the game. You're a group of agents, the Elite Beat agents as it were, under the order of commander Kahn, sent out to help people in distress using the power of music, and killer choreography. Anyway, not only do you need to hit virtually every tap, you need to hit them accurately. You need to score as many points as you can as quickly as possible to stay out of the red. Expect to fail more times than there are songs in the game.

Each song is broken up into a number of segments. If you're success meter is above the danger zone at the end of the segment, a favorable event for the character you're helping will be animated, and an unfavorable one otherwise. There aren't any notes to hit at these moments, so you're free to enjoy the animation, but you'll miss whatever is on the top screen while you're playing because it's impossible to watch without breaking focus and subsequently taking a huge dive. The game does offer the ability to save one session per song for you to go back and re-watch, so you can enjoy the full animation there or use it to see where your rough points are.

The song list is pretty diverse, including songs your parents are probably more familiar with, like The Village People's “YMCA”, or “Jumpin' Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones. A decent list, but there's a lot of room for improvement. The gameplay more than makes up for it though. Hell, this game would be fun to just about anything. Elite Beat Agents: Nursery Edition.

Three difficulty modes are available in the beginning: Breezin', Cruisin', and Sweatin'. Hard Rock will have you play as the Elite Beat Divas, and can be unlocked by finishing the game on Sweatin', and is when you'll want to be sure you've got a box of tissues handy. Your performance on each song is ranked and your points from all modes are added to a main score. As this score rises so does your rank. I was recently promoted from “God of Groove” to “Four-star commander” and still have 1.8 million more points until the next rank.

Elite Beat Agents is a unique, highly-addictive, extremely fun game, and is one that every single Nintendo DS owner should have in their collection. 

Find Elite Beat Agents on ebay | Amazon


Released: 2006-11-06
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: iNiS


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