Over the course of my time writing for internet blogs, I have had the freedom of simply avoiding reviewing things like this. iOS and android games frequently fly under my radar, because I really don’t enjoy micropayment rigged free to play nonsense no matter what it is.
So imagine my surprise upon finding out that not only was one of my favorite 3DS games, Rhythm Thief, getting ported, but it would be a pay to play $10 new version with new songs and minigames. Sure, I heard there was going to be online features that required a connection, but honestly, if you’re going to use a mobile platform, you might as well take advantage of the features. Not a biggie from a design perspective I hoped.
Well, it turns out I was wrong. It is, in fact, a standard mobile micropayment rigged, free to play style game. And It’s $10. Yeah…..
I think it’s worth opening this review with what little I enjoyed. This is still the Rhythm Thief you know and love to a degree. The same crazy story that only a Sega game could have is still present, and this time, not diluted with pointless sections of running around. The character artwork is identical and fits fairly well onto my iPhone’s screen. Also, the original set of rhythm games remain as charming as they were.
I specified “original” above because that is where things start to go wrong. The new minigames range from dull to stupid; usually just involving tapping fast or tapping a specific thing quickly. You cannot skip these as they are hard integrated into every activity you do. Not only that, but in the original game, the set of rhythm games were so charming because they were core to the story, and usually not repetitive. In the new story mode, the same games are frequently revisited in order to try and chip away at your HP.
Oh yeah, this game has HP. Your HP diminishes by failing at rhythm games, and when it completely empties, you can re-try by using coins purchased from the in game store with real money or earned rarely in game. If you run out of HP then….actually, you can just keep playing. You just lose any loot cards you gained during that mission. Speaking of…
You gain HP by both leveling up and a Puzzle and Dragon style card crafting and collecting system. You can mix companion cards with other cards designed to level them up. This system is completely new for the mobile version of the game because this is yet another way to encourage microtransactions. On a positive note, casual play was enough to keep me earning the cards I needed without hitting a paywall. In fact, one of the strengths is that if you really are enjoying yourself, you can grind for card drops and currency just by playing more and repeating missions.
Pay limitations or not, the real crime of jacking this specific micropayment system into this game is the necessity of making it online only. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in the game, every time you are kicked back to the menu, you are reminded that you have to be online with a “connecting” screen. Finished crafting cards? Reconnection time. Finished a mission? Reconnect again! Do literally anything else? Get friendly with a reconnection screen. It’s the worst kind of repetitive reminder that you are locked into an unnecessary system.
I could go on for another few paragraphs about how awful I think it is to shoehorn micropayments into a pay to play game, or about how this is diminishing the value of the gameplay, but, all in all, the review comes down to only one real point: this is an inferior version of a great game; a game you definitely should play. If possible, get it for the 3DS, but as far as rhythm games on your mobile device with Sega flavor, you can certainly go far worse.