Friday, December 08, 2006

Elite Beat Agents

A month late, but just in case you either held off on this one or just wanted to hear my take...

Elite Beat Agents is a remake/follow-up of a Japanese DS title called Osu! Takatae! Ouendan!, released earlier this year. Nintendo published both, and both were also developed by iNis (the group responsible for another cult music title, Guitaroo Man on the PS2). They both play exactly the same, but the asthetics and music in the two titles are tailor-made for their decided country of retail.

EBA would seem pretty simple to get a hang of, especially if you're familiar with other music games. Using the stylus, you tap the circles in order, drag your stylus following a ball, and spin the spinner, all to the beat of the music. It should only take you the training mission and first level to get the general hang of it. However, even when you know how to play it, the game will beat you mercilessly.

That's necessarily a bad thing. A game can still be fun while still challenging. And EBA is fun and very challenging. Not only will it take you a while to get the coveted higher ranks in each stage (even on the easier difficulty), the later stages and difficulties will most certainly require severa playovers to ultimately finish them at all.

What's driving the events, if you have any interest? Basically, you play as an elite squad of secret agents who appear out of nowhere to use music and dance to get people out of tough situations. These run from mundane (babysitting) to uncommon(helping two spoilt bimbos survive on a desert island) to utterly bizarre(helping a shamed former baseball star defeat a gigantic lava monster while simultaeneously reviving his career), all culminatiing with an invasion of music-hating aliens. The weirdness adds to the appeal, methinks.

Now, the music. The music has been a divider among people, it seems. It's certainly a mixed bag, but I think it all works for the game as it is. They're all pop songs, ranging from good (Deep Purple's 'Highway Star', David Bowie's 'Let's Dance', Jamiroquai's 'Canned Heat', Earth, Wind, and Fire's 'September',and an awesome last level with 'Jumping Jack Flash'), to the tolerable (Madonna, Chicago, blink-182, The Village People, and even The Jackson 5), to not-so-tolerable (Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson). However, since I was more concerned with the game than the quality of all the music (I enjoyed Donkey Konga, just to let you know), so it really never affected my enjoyment. If you can endure Avril and Ashlee, there shouldn't be a problem there. Oh yeah, all the songs are covers, and they pretty well-handled (the guys they hired do their very best Bowie impression as I think humanly possible.)

Overall, if the game grabs your interest, it's going to be hard to shake off the addiction. The constant desire to do better in every level is probably the best kind of replay (I think), and EBA delivers that in spades. So yes, I do recommend this game. It's a competitor for Best DS game of 2006.



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