Sega foray into the Nintendo 3DS hasn’t included many titles as of yet, and although they have the popular Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on the handheld’s library, perhaps it’s a little-known title that may be their best to date – Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure.
The puzzle-rhythm-action game brings forth an interesting little story about a boy named Raphael who lives a secret life as a Parisian thief known as Phantom R. Most notably, he has a penchant for stealing famous paintings; only to return them days later…the mystery of why he does this, as well as why Napoleon Boneparte’s casket was stolen, is only one of many to be discovered.
As the game kicks off, you find yourself on an overhead map; much like in recent Super Mario Bros. 2D games. You’ll move from one point to another, where each area begs you to discover hidden items and talk to various folks in Paris. You can find hidden gold coins, which allow you to purchase collectables, mini-games and movie clips, while you’ll also come across sound effects to help you construct a Master Instrument. Additionally, all these NPCs you encounter will help you solve puzzles and advance through the story.
What I liked most about the game is that the mini-games have a pretty nice variety to them. Initially, I expected to simply come across challenges akin to Elite Beat Agents, but there was much more than just tapping, sliding and circling motions on the screen. Sure there are dance routines, where you do things like that, but you’ll also find mini-games where you’re trying to avoid being caught, helping out NPCs (such as cooking and performing), or even solving puzzles, like locks or disabling alarms. However, rather than feeling like you’re simply playing a game that’s just about mini-games, the story is blended in well and the action is broken up nicely as you learn more about the story. The cast of characters also have their own unique personalities and the animated presentation lends itself nicely.
Eating up Raphael most is the disappearance of his father, when he was a younger boy, but the handful of storylines that come into play; keep the game from getting stale from a narrative perspective. Sure, at some point, the mini-games themselves can become somewhat repetitive, but overall, they make sense for pushing the story along its conclusion.
The game also allows you to play the rhythm challenges outside of the Story mode, for its in-game leaderboards, which grade you on each performance, while you can build up your fanbase using StreetPass, or challenge your friends in a handful of challenges.
To be perfectly honest, Rhythm Thief surprised me, with its witty humor and curious story that actually had me wanting to play and play until it had fully unfolded. The rhythm-based games were enjoyable and at times quite challenging, while a clearly French-inspired soundtrack became pretty catchy as well. Fans of rhythm-based or puzzle games should definitely take this one for a spin and explore what Phantom R’s adventure through Paris has to offer.