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Atari Gravitar
Written by  :  Elliott Wu (44)
Written on  :  Nov 30, 2009
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Summary

Ouendan lite

The Good

Just like it's predecessor, Ouendan, it's a rhythm game and it introduces a very similar game play experience. The difficulty scales fairly smoothly over the course of the game and the song selection is pretty decent.

Of course, saying it's like Ouendan doesn't really tell the newcomers much. So let's start with some basics.

The point of the game is to hit the little icons on screen with your stylus in sync with the music in the background, and through that, your team of special task force characters, the Elite Beat Agents, can help the people of this world solve their problems through the awesome power of music and emotion.

Yes, it's as silly as it sounds. The game doesn't even try to take itself seriously and takes an almost dadaist delight in how absurd they can make the scenarios turn out.

It also probably one of the BEST examples of how to implement a game that fully utilizes the stylus mechanic.

In terms of game play, it's actually highly addictive as the level designs scale very smoothly. That is, the game does an excellent job training the new players into experts.

The Bad

This is where my previous experience with Ouendan starts to taint my experience.

For one thing, the game, while made for US distribution, was clearly led by a Japanese development group and it shows. The manga aesthetics were borrowed from the previous installment and it works fairly well but then the character design, the humor, and the sensibility of the whole game just feels like the designers are TRYING to be more American than even the American audience itself. Basically, some of the humor there just doesn't work as well for me because the context that made the humor work prior is missing.

For example, an Ouendan is the Japanese, all male, hyper-masculine equivalent of a cheer leading squad. That is, a Japanese cultural icon, and the idea of an Ouendan being able to bend time and space and defy the laws of physics just bringing in extra pep is basically a lampoon of that very hyper-masculine culture you see in a lot of Japanese mangas. you combine these elements together, and Ouendan just works. The cheese factor here is like cheese on pizza, it just works.

Now EBA? There is no real cultural equivalent for something like this. Yeah, a special task force that is all FBI-esque but are basically musical performers? That's an OK fit, but it's just not quite there. But the cheese factor here doesn't quite go with the whole dish nearly as well, and sometimes the cheesiness feels just that, cheesy. ("they're all rocked out!" in reference to the characters being turned into stone, for example)

Now don't get me wrong. I still get a good chuckle from a lot of the game and a lot of humor still does work even if we cross national borders, but it's just not as strong or as tight when it ports over here.

Also, there seems to be some slight synchronization issues with some of the songs. In some cases, some of the notes have to be hit with no real indicator except raw memorization of the timing, which gets kind of frustrating at times.

The Bottom Line

A great little rhythm game that will ensure you need to buy multiple styluses for your DS as well as a screen protector.

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