With its dual screen, touchpad, and standard button setup, the 3DS makes a great system for games in the rhythm genre. There are a number of titles available, such as the excellent Rhythm Thief, the RPG hybrid Theatrythm which also spawned a sequel, the addictive HarmoKnight and just recently Japanese pop idol Hatsune Miku made her 3DS debut in Europe with Hatsune Mike: Project Mirai DX. Looking to add its name to this solid list of titles is Radiohammer, coming from developers Arc System Works and Vinyl Lab.
You play as a music loving DJ working for the pirate radio station Radiohammer. However, these are not your typical everyday disc jockey’s. Their true goal is to ‘serve as the radio station of justice’ which entails bashing evildoers with giant hammers. You get the chance to play as 3 DJ’s each with their own unique scenarios and enemies to thwart. New girl July Ann has to deal with a park filled with flashing perverts, MC Wayne must quell an alien invasion, and Simply Lita is dropped in the middle of a zombie uprising. Find your way through these and there’s even an extra little treat; a special appearance from the 2D fighter Chaos Code, Celia.
Radiohammer’s story doesn’t go much further then smack all of the villains, but the dialogue exchanges are very well written and always humorous. Unfortunately though it’s on the short side, with only 15 stages per character that can be breezed through in around 4550 minutes. The game is best enjoyed when played in short sweet bursts rather than just a single sitting. It’s advised all the more, as the gameplay is actually very repetitive. The characters, enemies, and environments are all switched out, but it all still plays in the same way, so can feel like a drag in large doses. Boss fights, which are the final stage for each character, are a bit of an exception and easily the most fun scenarios. They play out exactly the same as the other levels, just with enemies being replaced by attacks that need to be knocked back, but their songs are longer and more complex than the usual ones you encounter. They’re also much more memorable, and there’s some fun banter to read between the DJ’s and the villains.
The gameplay is basic and very much what you’d expect for a rhythm game. Enemies run at your stationary standing character and you simply smack them with your weapon of choice to the sound of the beat. The perverts, aliens and zombies approach on two separate tracks, upper and lower. To deal with goons on the upper path you tap the upper right portion of the touchscreen. Alternatively you can also press the X button or up on the D-pad. To send foes packing on the lower track it’s the lower left of the touchscreen, the A, or down buttons. Finally, if a mysterious hand offers you a present, tap the left of the screen, Y, or the left directional button to snatch it up. All control schemes feel fined tuned and responsive, plus the variety in setups is nice to play around with, like alternating between them to give yourself that little extra challenge.
Depending on how well you’ve timed your attack you’re rewarded with a perfect, great, good or bad rating. Perfects are worth the most points, but have much stricter timing making them challenging to obtain. Bads on the other hand chip away at your HP gauge. Miss too many and its night time for your quirky little DJ, and back to the start of the song. Perfects also have a knock on affect as they fuel your fever bar which when full puts you into a frenzied state where all of your attacks count as perfect, despite how bad your timing might be. Presents can also add to the gauge, but even nicer is that they throw a decision making element into the mix as they appear more randomly. Do you grab the present and risk missing a beat, or do you ignore it nail the perfect?
Having solid controls and a good rating system is all well and good, but the most important aspect to any rhythm game is the music. Thankfully the Radiohammer team have got a decent repertoire of tunes. While there are no standout pieces, the overall soundtrack is a great treat to listen to, and it covers a fair number of genres including disco, reggae, rock, pop and electro. The audio feedback is equally good with cries of ‘perfect’ and ‘great’ standing out clearly, but not so much as to drown out the music.
Visually the game is very charming boasting a bright, cute cartoony artstyle, the adorable looking DJ’s in particular really stand out from the scene. To match their style and music preferences, character even has their own distinct setting to fight in. July Ann’s stages for example have a bright pop-art aesthetic, while Simply Lita’s environments are darker with a grungy look. Animations are also very impressive flowing very fluidly although, saying that, it would have been nice to see a bit more of them. Different attack animations to differentiate between enemies on the upper and lower tracks, for example, would have made things more interesting to look at. Radiohammer was originally created for android and iOS, and in the port over to the 3DS, the graphics have dropped a notch, as certain sections look a bit blurry. Not only that, but the developers have opted to not use the 3D effect on the system. It’s a shame as you feel it could have worked very well as everything is setup nicely on layers.
Radiohammer is a great new addition to the 3DS’s line-up of rhythm titles. It could do with some fine tuning as it’s a rather rough around the edges but it’s cutesy, cartoony aesthetic, quirky stylings, and fun (albeit very repetitive) set of mechanics do well to hold your interest. It is one of the more simplistic games on the system, but with such an affordable price it’s well worth a look.
This review is based off a review code of Radiohammer provided by Aksys Games.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.