Elite Beat Agents
Strange, Funny, and Definitely Entertaining!
Although most people try to stay away from strange men in business suits dancing to "Material Girl", I just say, "Encore!" because that is what this game is all about. It is about a squad of men who help people out by dancing and singing away. For instance, a girl and her football jock friend (whom she is planning to ask out) get stuck babysitting annoying little kids unexpectedly on their study date. You play as the E.B.A. who dance to help solve their problem. How this works, I don't know. How the game works, I do know. On the screen are numbered circles, around theses circles are bigger circles that get smaller and close in around the numbered circle. Once the shrinking circle encloses around the other one to the point where it's touching the edge exactly, that's where you tap it, along with the beat, to score points and help save the day by moving a meter at the top of the screen all the way in the green. The more notes you hit, the more the meter turns green. The more you miss the more the meter turns red. There are about three segments in each song, the meter goes back to a point on the meter where it's 1/2 to 3/4 red after each segment. The more green it is the better the cut scene between each segment. Another way to get points other than the circles is the wheel. There is a wheel that pops up every now and then that you have to spin as fast as you can, in any direction, to score points and fill the meter. There is also the ball that is similar to the circle, except you have to hold the stylus on it and move with it till it reaches the end of its path. Also with the ball there is a reverse arrow that means instead of stopping you reverse and continue forwrd until you reach the end. The story gets weirder and better with each song. I think it's hilarious and fun, others think it's stupid and creepy, it just depends on your sense of humor.
If you love music games, this is a must!
Alright, I will start this review by giving my slight bias: I LOVE MUSIC GAMES. Practically all of them. So, if you hate music-based games, you probably won't like this one.
The Elite Beat Agents are basically an amazing combination of Charlie's Angels, the Men in Black, and the Blues Brothers. Your "frontman" (or woman) changes with your level of gameplay; the backups only change when you reach the highest level of play, where you get the "Elite Beat Divas", which are cheerleaders rather than the MIB/Blues Brothers inspired men in suits. (Fun Fact: These "Divas" are the characters used in the Japanese version of this game.)
The music choices? Pretty good. Chances are you know most of the songs, or at least had heard of them; I only was in the dark about two of them ("Without A Fight" and "La La"). This is definitely to your advantage, as with any rhythm game, your handle on the song will definitely impact your gameplay. Most of the songs are pop-rock, from classics like "Let's Dance" and "YMCA" to newer ones like "Makes No Difference" and "Survivor". Keep in mind, though, almost all of them are covers; it's hard for a game to get official licenses without paying an arm and a leg.
The Missions? Beautifully ridiculous. If you have no humor for completely absurd scenarios, then walk away. From helping a beleaguered babysitter calm the kids and get the guy to fighting off a music-hating alien invasion, there's plenty for the EBA to do! Each mission briefing is done in a comic book format, which is probably the only way they could do it and have it make sense. Your commander sends you out, you make your entrance (whether via helicopter, jet pack, or carriage) and begin your dance!
The Gameplay...it seems very simple, and the tutorial does help you make sure you know how to do it all. It's harder than it looks. The timing window is surprisingly small, so good rhythm is a must! Tap, slide, and spin your agents through their (admittedly pretty good) dance routine to motivate their client (and watch the hilarious 'checkpoint' clips). All that being said, the learning curve is steep. While I feel as though I have a good sense of rhythm, the final two songs provide a difficult challenge even on the easiest mode of play. However, I feel as though that would simply continue to motivate me to keep playing and get better! The Japanese version of this game had a sequel or two and has a PC-based, Stepmania-like following for those looking for more, but it's hard to replace the game that brought it all home!
OVERALL (aka the tl;dr version)
Pros: Hilarious Story, Catchy Music, Bright graphics, Simple-to-Grasp gameplay
Cons: Steep Learning Curve, Unforgiving Timing Windows, Limited number of songs