Elite Beat Agents Reader Review
A father departs from home, leaving behind his wife and young daughter, promising a swift return. Something happens, and Daddy never comes home, leaving his daughter distraught and the mother to raise her child alone. The first birthday arrives, and the recently bereaved pair are aware of a presence around them, watching over them. Hope grows in their hearts as they both come to release that Dad kept his promise, and returned to them. A gust of wind blows through the home, blowing the cake into the face of the young daughter. You've just failed that section of the level set to You're The Inspiration by Chicago again.
Tip-Tap, Slide and Spin
Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm action game set to 19 songs both new and old, from bona fide classics such as Jumpin' Jack Flash to more acquired tastes such as Sk8r Boi, is a fantastic mix of absurd stories and pure gaming candy. The blueprint is simple enough: you tap circles on the screen whenever their shrinking outer rings overlap their edges. The hook is that the rings overlap the circles in time with the beats, with sequential beats spaced on the screen proportional to the pauses, so that in most instances you instinctively begin to tap the screen in time to the music. Miss a beat, and your energy bar decreases until it runs out and it's Game Over; hit beats perfectly and you increase the energy bar so that the Elite Beat Agents keep on dancing on the bottom screen.
In addition to the basic mechanic, there are also balls to follow across the screen and discs to spin, which add some variation to the mix. The discs are probably the least successful part of the game, occasionally breaking the flow of the game, but nonetheless often serve to provide a climactic finish to songs.
Homer's Odyssey, With Added Dogs
The stories that accompany the songs are beautifully drawn in a distinctive manga style. Each level usually starts with a cry of 'Heeeelp!' from the protagonist, or in the case of the Highway Star level charting the epic journey of a pug on his way home, an anguished bark. It's from here that the immaculately suited and coiffured Elite Beat Agents jump in, busting crazy moves in time to the music to try to save the day.
The reflexes the game tests eventually require you to give yourself up to 'The Zone', that place you have to be to complete Guitar Hero on the hardest difficulty, or the Master Cup on F-Zero X. But the game is accessible on the easiest difficulties to even your dear old non-gaming mum, who will plug away at the babysitting level set to Walkie Talkie Man for an hour until she completes it.
Once or twice in the game there are patterns to follow that don't match the songs particularly well, most notably in the Canned Heat level, but these are minor frustrations in an otherwise brilliantly executed package.
As Easy As 1-2-3
With a fun two-player mode with only one game card, and a single-player campaign that will suck hours of your time as you try to unlock the final songs and get higher scores, the game provides excellent value-for-money, especially as it's now available on the High Street for less than £20. It's a shining light amongst the dross in the DS library, and deserves your pink note.
9 / 10