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Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure: Review

The days of Dance Central machines made popular in the arcades of the late 90’s made their legacy felt in the rhythm music games that followed. Among Guitar and DJ Hero titles, with their costly accessories, some titles incorporates rhythmic button pressing into story driven games. SEGA’s recent release on the 3DS, Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure makes a jolly good stab at just that.

Playing as the young Raphael by day and his alter ego Phantom R at night, you’ll spend the opening chapters breaking into the Louvre and evading the police – all in an effort to go on a date. Later simple fetch quests, pattern puzzles and sound activated obstacles will fill some of your time, but it is the rhythm mini-games that deliver the most fun. One memorable set piece sees Phantom R evading the police in a rooftop chase to European disco beats.

Art and disco: what more would you want?

Why is Raphael breaking into high security museums to steal priceless artefacts you ask? The logic to his actions are buried in a desire to find his father, with each mission revealing a clue to the truth. As well as these noble intentions, there is also a sense that Raphael really enjoys causeing trouble, making him that bit more charismatic. And each climax in Raphael’s adventure is signalled with an escape sequence or boss: cue button pressing mini-games.

The charming melodies played throughout the mini-games are fun and add to the atmosphere of each challenge: from sneaking past security to winning street fights. I caught myself humming songs from the game long after the 3DS was turned off. It’s intuitive stuff: press A to hit this or jump over there or hide here. When new components are added it feels nature and instinctive for the most part.

The combat sections are not just fun, you'll be dancing along to them too!

What’s more the story of Raphael’s search from his long lost father in Paris is beautifully presented – with the animation style taking inspiration from Studio Ghilbi. You’d think the pieces would fall into place perfectly to create the ideal experience for younger games, but reams of script, unclear objectives and endless walking around mean that more time is spent getting to the fun than playing it. Also, some of the gameplay just doesn’t work as it should: SEGA’s use of the 3DS’ gyroscope is unforgiving, demanding perfect timing to dodge a punch, making these sections even more annoying than walking to each and every new area or hamming A to skip dull dialogue.

None the less, it is pretty and it sounds good, which is certainly enough for most games on the market. SEGA have created a cute game with a few gameplay flaws, although it is never enough to make you lose your temper. Like a puppy that’s had an accident on the carpet, it can be annoying, but you’ll forgive him for those loveable eyes.

6/10

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