Professor Layton what have you done? Ever since the man in the big brown hat came onto the scene we've seen a whole bunch of imitators appear out of the blue. May’s Mystery and Dr. Lautrec And The Forgotten Knights are some of the more recent examples. Well, another contender is about to throw their hat (because they all wear hats) into the ring. Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure is launching soon for the Nintendo 3DS, so we figured it was as good a time as any for a little primer as to what this musical puzzler is all about.
You play as Raphael (or Phantom ‘R’) as he attempts to uncover the mystery behind the stolen tomb of Napoleon. The demo from the Nintendo e-Shop features three levels, each of which presents a different gameplay style. The first is a dance-off (weird way to solve a mystery, but ok) where you will have to slide the stylus in various directions to the beat, very much like in Elite Beat Agents for the DS. The second level will have you playing a rhythmic game of ‘Simon Says’ as Raphael attempts to avoid detection by guards by mimicking the poses of statues. Finally, the last level in the demo has you battling a legion of foes but pressing the D-Pad and ‘A’ button to the beat, much like in a Rhythm Heaven mini-game. The final release also promises to make use of the 3DS’s other features, like the gyroscope and accelerometer, for even more musical mayhem.
On the visual front the game is an absolute charmer, with cute animations that perfectly compliment the game’s tone, which is set somewhere between dark and vibrant. One thing to note: I highly recommend playing this game with the 3D effect turned on, since the game uses a lot of 3D effect tricks that kind of look out of place in 2D. But of course, as with any music based the game, the real star is the music. In this regard, Rhythm Thief definitely doesn’t disappoint. Featuring a sound that falls between trippy and techno this is definitely a game that will have you tapping your feet as you play along. The songs/levels are also the perfect length (at about 3 minutes each) to make multiple playthroughs possible without getting bored of listening to the same track over and over.
While I only got to experience three levels of the game, I put my 3DS down feeling confident that Phantom ‘R’ may just give the Professor a run for his picarats. We don’t get to see any of the puzzle elements in the demo, but the high quality of the songs and the simple-yet-addictive gameplay were more than enough for me.
Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure will launch tomorrow in North America, but you can check out the demo now on the Nintendo 3DS e-Shop.