Rhythm Tengoku is a Game Boy Advance music game by Nintendo that features a heavy incorporation of music. The game was never released outside of Japan, though a sequel titled Rhythm Heaven (Rhythm Tengoku Gold in Japan) was released on July 31, 2008 to accompany the release of the Nintendo DSi. An arcade version of Rhythm Tengoku was released with an extra Set of games. It was also the final game Nintendo had developed for the GBA.

It features a number of unique stages which have their own type of rhythm and gameplay. Players follow the rhythm (in some rhythm games as a character) until the end where they are given a score based on their performance. Parallels have been drawn between it and the developer's previous work on the WarioWare series.

Gameplay

At the start of the game, the player has to take the Rhythm Test with no way of skipping it. The Main Menu is unlocked after the player clears Rhythm Test the first time on a new file. The options give the player access to Rhythm Games, Rhythm Test, Rhythm Data Room, Studio and Options. Rhythm Games goes to the Game Select menu, where all of the unlocked Stages and the Bonus Corner are accessed. Rhythm Data Room, (or Rhythm Library) is where the player can read various things, received as Gifts from the Perfect Campaign on certain games. The Studio meanwhile allows the player to listen to the music they've received also as Gifts, as well as drum to them. Options is where the player can change their sound preference to "stereo" (for headphones or DS speakers) or "mono" (for GBA speakers), or delete all of their saved game data.

Rhythm Games is the main core of Rhythm Tengoku. The object of this game's normal mode is to unlock each rhythm game, by achieving a decent score based on how well the player kept in the rhythm of the previous one. There are eight sets which consist of six rhythm games each (all of which are unique to each other). Each game has it's own set of rules which vary depending on each one. The object of each rhythm game is to match the rhythm the game expects of players which varies from stage to stage. The game primarily relies on audio cues to indicate the rhythm; while it uses visual cues as well, it will sometimes subvert players' expectations with them. Each game lasts for about 1 to 2 minutes.

After unlocking and completing the first five games, a Remix appears, that combines all the previous games, usually those featured in the last Stage, all at once where the games change in turns. Some remixes (such as Remix 5) might even have characters wearing alternate costumes. Once the remix is cleared, the next game will be unlocked as well as four other games waiting to be unlocked in its Set and so forth. Set 6 has a twist where each of the Rhythm Games are rearranged versions of the last game of each Stage before it. After that, there are two more Sets that are based on previous games, but are much harder than usual.

Players are given one of three ranks at the end of every stage; "Try Again", "OK", and "Superb". Players must achieve an "OK" rank in order to proceed to the next game. Players who achieve "Superb" receive a Medal which can be used to unlock extra content. 

Once a "Superb" rank is achieved on a rhythm game, a chance to go for a "Perfect" will be available at random times, where players can attempt a Perfect Campaign of a randomly selected stage. There are three chances to attempt this before it either disappears or moves on to another rhythm game. If players make any mistakes in the stage while making the attempt, a chance is lost, and the player must retry the stage from the start. Players who succeed receive an in-game certificate as well as a gift (varying on the game). If they obtain all certificates, they get a special certificate as well as access to all songs in the Studio mode. The game's drum controls allow players to use the different buttons on the Game Boy Advance to control various aspects of the drums.

Other things can also be accessed in this mode during game progression such as the Café, Drum Lessons, Endless Games, Rhythm Toys, and Live. Everything unlockable in these areas can be obtained by earning Medals or achieving Perfects.

In the Arcade version, you start the game with two hearts. Each heart is lost when starting a Rhythm Game. Getting a "Superb" or "Perfect" gives you an extra heart, as well as close the game for the rest of the Stage. If the player runs out of hearts, they will need to spend a credit to continue. The player needs to clear all five games per Set with at least an "OK" in order to play the Remix. There is also a 2 Player Mode for this version.

List of Rhythm Games

Each game has a practice session before playing. The Remixes, sequels and "Tempo Up!" games have no practice sessions for them.

In the arcade version, all of the games are available from the start. This version has an Extra stage of games as well, which are at 150% speed and with remade music to match. In addition, some games that didn't have tutorials now have practice sessions for them.

Set 1

  • Karate Man - "Punch flying objects with the A button! A common game? ...Perhaps. Go crazy and blow them away!"
  • Rhythm Tweezers - "These annoying hairs keep growing! Pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Marching Orders - "Time to march. Random actions will hurt the team! Do your best."
  • Spaceball - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Don't rely on your sight, and let it fly~! Go with a bang~!"
  • The Clappy Trio - "Let's clap in turn! You're the third. Watch the other two and clap!"
  • Remix 1 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "This is Stage 1's Remix. It's a little difficult, but can you clear it? Enjoy yourself to the end!" (Arcade version)

Set 2

  • Sneaky Spirits - "The white guys are making fun of us! Argh!! Let's punish them!"
  • Samurai Slice - "Make way, they're coming through! You are a samurai, slice them all!"
  • Rat Race - "You are a mouse. To reach your beloved cheese, Stop & Go!!"
  • Sick Beats - "Memo from assistant: "It's terrible! It's a virus outbreak!! Help, professor~"" (GBA version), "We've got a virus outbreak and we're in trouble! Help! Dr. Virus!" (Arcade version)
  • The☆Bon Odori - "Let's clap our hands along with the Bon Odori song."
  • Remix 2 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "This is Stage 2's Remix. It's a little difficult, but can you clear it? Enjoy yourself to the end!" (Arcade version)

Set 3

  • Wizard - "You are a wizard. Let's give flowers to the lonely little girl as a present."
  • Show Time - "It's showtime for the penguins! Yay yay!"
  • Bunny Hop - "A white rabbit who is good at jumping. Let's cross the sea on the beat!"
  • Tram to Poline - "The acrobatic show of the little foxes Tram and Poline is about to begin!"
  • Space Dance - "We're in zero gravity outer space. But, let's dance! Let's Space Dance!"
  • Remix 3 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "This is Stage 3's Remix. It's a special edition with a song! Enjoy yourself to the end!" (Arcade version)

Set 4

  • Quiz Show - "A simple quiz where you guess the host's "number of hits"."
  • Night Walk - "Jump to the music! Stars gather as you approach the night sky..."
  • Power Calligraphy - "Write Japanese with the brush. You only have to do the fun parts."
  • Polyrhythm - "Master pressing the D-Pad and the A Button at the same time! It's simple. I guess... Keep the red things coming!"
  • Rap Men - "The cool duo has arrived! It's a hot rap and a big hoot!"
  • Remix 4 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "This is Stage 4's Remix. It's a little difficult, but can you clear it? Enjoy yourself to the end!" (Arcade version)

Set 5

  • Bouncy Road - "The hopping round balls. Those are good things. Don't drop them!" (GBA version), "The hopping round balls. Those are good things. Carry them without dropping them!" (Arcade version)
  • Ninja Bodyguard - "We're under attack! Block with the D-pad and the A button! Fuji-yama!!" (GBA version), "We're under attack! Block with the Left and Right buttons! Fuji-yama!!" (Arcade version)
  • Toss Boys - "A close trio of friends, they like to practice tossing and calling each other's names."
  • Fireworks - "Speaking of summer, isn't it time for fireworks? Let's launch vivid colors!"
  • Tap Trial - "You are a girl. Tap by matching the monkeys at your side!"
  • Remix 5 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "This is Stage 5's Remix. It's a special edition with a song! Enjoy yourself to the end!" (Arcade version)

Set 6

  • The Snappy Trio - "They were rough around the edges but now they have snappy suits! Cool!"
  • Bon Dance - "This is the Bon Odori of the modern day! It's really groovy! Yeah!"
  • Cosmic Dance - "Dancers representing the universe! They've got the sharp moves!"
  • Rap Women - "The Rap Men have rivals! Their cute voices will make you melt!"
  • Super Tap Trial - "The monkeys have powered up! Can you keep up with their rhythmic moves!? Don't lose!"
  • Remix 6 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "It's a special Remix of many games you've played thus far! Can you clear it?" (Arcade version)

Set 7

  • Karate Man 2 - "Punch flying objects with the A button! But, the speed is all screwed up."
  • Rhythm Tweezers 2 - "These annoying hairs are growing again! Pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Ninja's Descendants - "My grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was a ninja, you know."
  • Night Walk 2 - "Jump with the music! Watch out for electric fish."
  • Marching Orders 2 - "Time to march. This one is a little technical! Do your best."
  • Remix 7 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "It's a special Remix of many games you've played thus far! Can you clear it?" (Arcade version)

Set 8

  • Bouncy Road 2 - "The hopping round balls. Those are really good things~. Don't drop them!"
  • Toss Boys 2 - "A close trio of friends, today's tossing practice is a little harder."
  • Polyrhythm 2 - "Left and Right independantly! Manage the tempo and let's Polyrhythm! Yay!"
  • Spaceball 2 - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Don't rely on your sight! Don't cry~!" (GBA version), "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Believe in yourself, and let it fly~!" (Arcade version)
  • Sneaky Spirits 2 - "The white guys are taunting us! Urgh!! Let's punish them!"
  • Remix 8 - "Would you like to test your skills? Your experience speaks for itself!" (GBA version), "It's a special Remix of many games you've played thus far! Can you clear it?" (Arcade version)

Extra Set (Arcade only)

  • Karate Man Tempo Up! - "Punch flying objects with the A button! But the speed is faster."
  • Rhythm Tweezers Tempo Up! - "These annoying hairs keep growing! Don't let the speed fool you, pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Marching Orders Tempo Up! - "Time to march. This time you need to be quick. Do your best."
  • Spaceball Tempo Up! - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Don't lose to the speed and let it fly~!"
  • The Clappy Trio Tempo Up! - "Let's clap in turn! You're the third. Watch out, because it's faster!"
  • Extra Remix Tempo Up! - "This is Extra Stage's Remix. Can you keep up with this speed? Enjoy yourself to the end!"

2 Player Mode (Arcade only)

  • Karate Man 2P - "Punch flying objects with the A button! Let's go with the flow!"
  • Rhythm Tweezers 2P - "These annoying hairs keep growing! Pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Marching Orders 2P - "Time to march. Random actions will hurt the team! Do your best."
  • Spaceball 2P - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Don't rely on your sight, and let it fly~!"
  • Sneaky Spirits 2P - "The white guys are making fun of us! Argh!! Let's punish them!"
  • Rat Race 2P - "You are a mouse. To reach your beloved cheese, Stop & Go!!"
  • Bunny Hop 2P - "A white rabbit who is good at jumping. Let's cross the sea on the beat!"
  • The☆Bon Odori 2P - "Let's clap our hands along with the Bon Odori song."
  • Space Dance 2P - "We're in zero gravity outer space. But, let's dance! Let's Space Dance!"
  • Power Calligraphy 2P - "Write Japanese with the brush. You only have to do the fun parts."
  • Ninja Bodyguard 2P - "We're under attack! Block with the Left and Right buttons! Fuji-yama!!"
  • Tap Trial 2P - "You are a girl. Tap by matching the monkey at your side!"
  • Karate Man 2 2P - "Punch flying objects with the A button! But, the speed is all screwed up."
  • Rhythm Tweezers 2 2P - "These annoying hairs are growing again! Pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Cosmic Dance 2P - "Dancers representing the universe! They've got the sharp moves!"
  • Marching Orders 2 2P - "Time to march. This one is a little technical! Do your best."
  • Sneaky Spirits 2 2P - "The white guys are taunting us! Urgh!! Let's punish them!"
  • Ninja's Descendants 2P - "My grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was a ninja, you know."
  • Spaceball 2 2P - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Believe in yourself, and let it fly~!"
  • Super Tap Trial 2P - "The monkey has powered up! Can you keep up with it's rhythmic moves!?"
  • Karate Man Tempo Up! 2P - "Punch flying objects with the A button! But the speed is faster."
  • Rhythm Tweezers Tempo Up! 2P - "These annoying hairs keep growing! Don't let the speed fool you, pluck'em, pluck'em!"
  • Marching Orders Tempo Up! 2P - "Time to march. This time you need to be quick. Do your best."
  • Spaceball Tempo Up! 2P - "Don't mind the zoom! Hit the ball with feeling! Don't lose to the speed and let it fly~!"

Endless Games

"Collect medals and play some special games! There's a few in here." - Description

These are games that are played for an infinite amount of time, until the player makes a certain amount of mistakes. Unlike Rhythm Games, these are played with the objective of earning a high score, which increases to show how far the player has gotten.

  • Mr. Upbeat
  • Sick Beats SP
  • Quiz Show Special
  • Mannequin Factory

Rhythm Toys

"Collect medals and play with noise making toys! There's a few in here." - Description

These toys have no particular goal. They typically involve fiddling around with an item or toy to get a rhythm started.

  • Cat Machine
  • Horse Machine
  • Love Machine
  • Rap Machine

Development

The game's development began sometime in 2002, under the working title of Rhythm IQ, when Kazuyoshi Osawa had created a tech demo for the GBA where players could play a drum kit, with each button on the console being designated to a different drum. The Drum Lessons and Concert Hall modes are directly derived from this original concept for the final game, four years later. Originally, the Rhythm Games would have been separated in categories, with each one specializing in different aspects of rhythm; but the ultimate decision was to have the games assorted, with the reasoning being that sorting the games like that could have made the progression much more monotonous.

In 2004, Tsunku brought his proposal to Nintendo, an idea of a rhythm game that did not rely on visual indicators for its rhythm due to his belief that they could do a better job with it than he could. Osawa was wary that people would enjoy it due to its lack of a music score as he felt that it might only appeal to a niche audience. It was decided to be released on the GBA due to Osawa's desire for a smaller screen and portability. The staff took dance lessons in order to improve their rhythm by the recommendation of the game's music composer Tsunku, dancing to the music of Remixes 1, 2 and 4. One stage that made an impression was Rhythm Tweezers, a level that featured an onion with a face from which players pluck its hair. It was originally going to be a real face, but it was deemed "a little too gross". Another stage is called The Bon Odori and is based on the real-world Japanese Bon Festival.

The music in Rhythm Tengoku is sequenced, as there was not enough space to put streamed music into the game. To save space on the GBA cartridge, the game's music is stored as MIDIs, and it uses it's own soundfont for it's instument samples in the music and the in-game sound effects. Several vocal songs were made for the game. In Karate Man, a theme based on a poem in the Rhythm Poem Collection titled "Karate Rhythm" is present. Ami Tokito provided the vocals for the song used in The Bon Odori, and her song, "Love's Honey Sweet Angel" is used in the 3rd Remix. "WISH - I Can't Wait For You" by Soshi Tanaka is used in the 5th Remix.

Before the game's release, a Trial Version was available, which was supposedly playable in kiosks. It reminds the player of the price of the final game in all 3 available games (Karate Man, Rhythm Tweezers and The Clappy Trio), the price being 3,800 yen, or 33.53$ in USD. It also includes a shortened version of Rhythm Test directly in the Game Select.

The game was first revealed in an issue of Famitsu, and was released in Japan only during August 3, 2006 for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) and was developed by Nintendo SPD and published by Nintendo. Key staff members include Kazuyoshi Osawa, Tsunku (music composer and supervisor), Masami Yone (sound designer), and Ko Takeuchi (graphic designer).

One year after the game's release, Sega approached the staff with an offer to co-develop an arcade version of the game for the Sega Naomi, which was released September 20, 2007. This was due to the popularity of the game with it's development staff. Osawa and Ko Takeuchi were impressed because they never thought that the game was able to gain a following. He brought this offer to the attention of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and others who approved of the idea. Yone had to make adjustments in the arcade version due to the differences between arcade mechanics and console mechanics. The arcade version had bilinear-filtered graphics. It also featured an extra set based on Set 1, but at 150% speed and with newly remixed music to match.

The arcade release also features multiplayer, even though the first main Rhythm Heaven game to have multiplayer was Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii. It was also the only game licensed by Nintendo for the Sega Naomi, and it was one of the very few games developed by Nintendo and Sega respectively.

Rhythm Tengoku has received generally positive reception. While it did not receive much attention before its release, it's gameplay and music were both well received by critics and consumers. The game received an Excellence Prize for Entertainment at the 10th annual Japan Media Arts Festival in 2006.

Trivia

  • This is the only Rhythm Heaven series game to have six games in a Set, instead of five, as in the next three games.
  • A strategy guide for this game was also released in Japan only.
  • This is the only Rhythm Heaven series game to have eight Sets, instead of ten, as in the next three games. The Arcade version has a Extra Set, which makes a total of nine Sets.
  • The Trial version, unsurprisingly, has the data for everything else from the final version. There are however, some things that go unused exclusively in this version. First, Marching Orders has the "リズム天国 おねだん ¥3,800" (Rhythm Heaven: Price ¥3,800) text appear on the conveyer belt at the end, while in Spaceball, it appears on the last zoom-out. Marching Orders 2 has glitchy sprites instead of the actual text and Karate Man 2 has the text in the background the same way the original does. Although the final game's Main Menu can be accessed through the demo's debug menu, the Stereo/Mono options are non-functional. The game is locked to Mono sound regardless of which option is chosen.
  • This game's Arcade version is the only Rhythm Heaven title released for Arcades, and also the first to be released on a Sega arcade system (the Sega Naomi).

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.