Rhythm Fighter is a 2D side scrolling brawler from developer Echo Games & publisher Coconut Island Games. You are plonked into a cartoon world overrun by vegetables where you must stop whatever is causing the death and destruction. Like the developers, I’m going to get the story over with quickly. The plot isn’t why you play Rhythm Fighter. Punching irritated carrots in the face and taking a flamethrower to an angry tomato, all while timing this to techno music is why you play this game.
At A Glance
|Visuals||7 / 10|
|Sound||8 / 10|
|Gameplay||7 / 10|
|Overall||7 / 10|
|Positives||+ Techno soundtrack
+ Great character design
+ Daily challenges extend replayability
|Negatives||– Limited number of levels
– Confusing control layout
– Difficulty ramps up quickly
There are five areas to Rhythm Fighter and each one is procedurally generated, meaning you’ll never have the same run through twice. Even the order of the areas, except for the final battle, are shuffled around to keep things fresh. Over the course of a level, you’ll encounter many things such as a mini-bosses, various shops (although these get more sparse the further you progress) and obstacle courses. At the end of each level is a boss you’ll have to take on. Each area increases with difficulty as you move through the game.
In the early days you will fail, so the randomness of the game keeps things interesting and kept me coming back for more. This try/fail/restart circle might feel unfair at first. Early on, I managed to fight my way to the third level, where the difficulty ramps up to such an extent, I was quickly put in my place. When your character is sent back to the main spaceship (because why not), you can use the points earned in your last playthrough to upgrade your character, unlock additional characters, and generally buff up for your next run.
It’s up to you on what you unlock first. You could strengthen your fighter or unlock permanent discounts in the shops you find throughout the game. I’m not going to list everything you can do because that’ll spoil the fun. I will say that these unlockables are earned at a nice pace and it didn’t feel like a grind to make progress. I just upgraded my character and went back for the next run. When you get to a certain point in the game, you’ll also get the option of taking on daily challenges. These task you with getting through the main game with a certain character or weapon combo. This gives the game more replayability value and really tests your skills.
Movement and attacks in the game are tied to the beat of the music, and the better the timing, the harder you hit and the quicker you move. This is where the biggest drawback for Rhythm Fighter comes from. The control scheme is strange. The three attacks; standard, heavy, and special as well as dodge are all assigned to the action buttons. However, movement is assigned to the R button, and confirm is on the L shoulder. The left and right direction buttons only point you in that direction. I can only think this was done as it is easier to tap your finger in time with the beat than (for most people) using your thumb on your less dominant hand. It still takes some getting used to.
Once you’ve got your head around the controls, it’s time to listen to the music. For a game that is intrinsically tied to music, it has to be good. Rhythm Fighter certainly succeeds is in this department. A techno dumf-dumf-dumf soundtrack plays throughout and when you’re in the zone you can rack up a serious combo. In later levels, when there are more enemies on screen, the sound effects can drown out the music. Thankfully, you can adjust this in the menu, as well as the button sensitivity if you’re finding the timing is off.
Along with the soundtrack, the whole aesthetic was the most entertaining thing about the game. Enemies are ridiculously cute and cartoonish until you get too close when they decide they’re going to eat you. Your character starts off as a DJing rabbit but as you progress you unlock more fighters to brawl with. Each one has their own personality and adds to the insanity of the game rather than feeling out of place.
Rhythm Fighter might only have five levels but it puts up one hell of a fight. It requires multiple playthroughs before you get to make serious progress. Due to the randomly generated levels and well-paced upgrade system, this never feels like a chore and the character designs are so charming you can’t help but come back for more. The difficulty in the later levels can be tough, especially if you’re only just starting out, however the game encourages you to get better rather than demoralising you. For me, Rhythm Fighter is one of those “just one more go” games and a rather enjoyable one at that.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game to conduct this review.