Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed sets out to infuse the puzzle genre with the rhythm gameplay concept of breaking blocks on the beat. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I like playing games such as Tetris and I enjoy rhythm games. And so, I hoped this would make for an interesting twist to the genre. Read on to find out if my hopes were met. . .
Developer: JMJ Interactive
Publisher: JMJ Interactive
4 Hours Played // Review Copy Provided // $7.99
Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed has puzzle elements that feel to me like a combination of Tetris and Bejeweled. You’re in control of a pair of shapes that fall from the top of the screen and are tasked to position them in such a way that the various shapes match up. You need at least four of the same kind (five on the hard difficulty) to be able to break them. You break shapes with the press of a button on the beat of the music, which is visualized by a vertical line moving from left to right on the screen where one block equals one beat. It feels very satisfying to pull off a perfect block-breaking sequence that you spend some time setting up and I feel this concept has a lot of potential. Sadly, Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed is not without some big flaws. . .
My main concerns are with the rhythm-based gameplay. I often found myself clicking on what I felt was the beat but ended up not destroying the blocks because I timed it too soon. This really messes up the flow of the game and I feel being too soon shouldn’t be this punishing compared to being too late, which does break the blocks but grants fewer points.
Moreover, it was hard to focus on the rhythm gameplay as shapes continue to fall when you are breaking shapes. This ends up feeling frustrating as you can’t focus on both tasks at once and are thus forced to simply let shapes fall wherever while you try your best to focus on breaking shapes on the beat.
There is surprisingly no possibility to use the control stick for input whatsoever. You’re required to use the d-pad. Left and right is for moving around your falling shapes. Up allows you to mirror the pair of shapes for additional control over where they’ll end up. And pressing down is for doing a fast drop.
Aside from breaking shapes on the beat with the A button, you can press X to create a super icon that drops and explodes in a three by three radius upon landing. You can only do this from time to time depending on how well you do with breaking the shapes on the beat. I ended up mostly forgetting to use this feature though, as it required a lot of focus to play without it and whenever I used it, the effect was very underwhelming.
Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed promotes having different game modes but I personally feel there isn’t much variety to be found. You can play either the campaign or single track mode. When playing a campaign, a song switches automatically to the next one every 3 minutes and the campaign ends once you finished the last one. Reaching a song in a campaign will unlock it as playable within the single track mode. This allows you to play it on repeat until you mess up and see a game over screen.
I found it disappointing that in single track mode there is no sense of progression. It doesn’t seem to get harder and so becomes merely a test of endurance. I much prefer to test my skills in the Campaign mode where the time limit means you need to play better within the allotted time to set a new high score.
Once you learned the basics you can challenge yourself further by changing the falling speed of the shapes from standard to turbo and/or changing the difficulty from normal to hard, which forces you to match more of the same shapes before you can break them. Increasing the falling speed is something I can’t recommend as it makes the rhythm-based gameplay even more frustrating. But I did enjoy the hard mode because it offered a more challenging puzzle experience.
For the completionists; there are also in-game challenges that you can try to complete. For example: destroying a certain number of blocks in one go or completing a campaign without using the super icon.
Audio & Visuals
Akihabara is an electric town, and it shows. Each level has its own unique song, background, and shape design all with a distinct and appealing electronic vibe. Although I appreciate the variety, there are a few specific design choices that hinder the gameplay. Some shape designs have shapes that I found difficult to keep apart, making it more difficult to match shapes. And for some songs, it is hard to make out the beat. Meaning you instead need to focus on the moving line.
I couldn’t get used to playing Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed. I wasn’t able to both destroy shapes and focus on the puzzle gameplay at the same time. This ends up feeling frustrating rather than challenging. I think my experience would drastically improve if the shapes would stop dropping when you are handling the rhythm-based challenge of destroying them and the destroying itself would become more lenient towards early inputs. Some sort of puzzle-based trigger that could activate to switch between the two styles of gameplay could work nicely. I feel this gameplay mechanic has potential as when I do manage to pull it off, it feels very satisfying.
As is, Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm Remixed is still a fun shape matching ‘puzzler’. However, going for high-scores is a frustrating endeavor. And as this is my main motivation to play this kind of game it ends up feeling like a lackluster experience.
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My first console was the GameCube, home to some of my favorite games incl. Metroid Prime 2, Super Mario Sunshine, Tales of Symphonia, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Soul Calibur 2, and F-Zero GX. Some of my favorite Switch games: Celeste, Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, Splatoon 2, and Breath of the Wild. Furthermore, I’m competitive and have a fairly high failure threshold.
In my personal life, true to my Dutch roots, I cycle to work where I supervise an administration team. Aside from gaming, I enjoy going for some physically challenging activities in nature with friends, such as hiking, rafting, etc. I also enjoy playing board games. And if we’ll ever meet, be sure to challenge me to a game of Go!