reviews\ Dec 11, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Elite Beat Agents - NDS - Review

Elite Beat Agent is taking rhythm games to the next step by incorporating the Nintendo DS touch screen. Played entirely on the touch screen, EBA has players tapping, scratching, and circling to the sounds of upbeat classics and recent hits.

In Elite Beat Agents, a team of trained professionals are called to solve the problems in this world. Led my Commander Kahn, the team seeks out citizens in need and dances their way to safety. Using your stylus and rhythm, it’s your job to help these average people to extraordinary things.

The gameplay in EBA is broken up by song, and each song is paired with a scenario that the Beat Agents must aid. These scenarios range anywhere from hilarious, to sad, to just plain crazy. Overall they are very entertaining, and actually give the game a lot of character. For example, one scenario is to help a baseball player save children from a theme park ride that has come alive. How do the Beat Agents do this with song and dance? We’ll probably never know.

At first only a few songs are available, but as you complete them and go up in rank more songs become available. The songs are selected on a globe that you drag the stylus over to rotate. Songs show up as people in trouble all over the globe.

When playing Elite Beat Agents, dots show up on the screen. Along with these dots, a circle appears and slowly closes around the dot. The point is to tap the dot as the circle collapses on it. To help even more with tapping the dot at the correct time, the dots are numbered in the order they will need to be touched.

Other than just tapping dots, sometimes a thin line shows up on screen with a dot at the end. Touching this dot at the right time triggers a ball that follows the line, and you must drag your stylus along with the ball to score for the entire line. These add a nice change of pace from just tapping, and in later levels really add some difficulty as the ball moves faster, and sometimes you are required to drag back and forth over the same line multiple times.

Elite Beat Agents, in typical rhythm game fashion, focuses strongly on its soundtrack. The dots appear along with the music and fit well with the beat to each song. The game has a really good soundtrack, too. There’s plenty of variety, and everyone is likely to recognize at least a few of the songs.

There is a meter along the top of the screen that shows how well you are performing the song. If it drains all the way, you fail. Successfully hitting notes will fill the meter, while misses will drain a decent amount of it. It is also constantly draining throughout the song, though it drains slower than if you miss notes. The closer to the beat you hit the notes, the more points you score and the more the meter is filled.

Elite Beat Agents Screenshot

During the song there are checkpoints. These checkpoints give you a little break from play and show you the result of the last chunk of song you just performed. The meter along the top of the screen is split in two pieces. If you can stay above the middle point you will succeed in completing each task, which usually involves helping the characters of the current story. If you drop below the middle point you will fail at helping the characters and a different series of events will be shown. This doesn’t mean you fail the song, and you can actually complete an entire song without succeeding in a single checkpoint.

A replay feature is included, so that you can save and watch how you did in any level. Not only that, but you can challenge your own ghost using saved replay data in a versus match. Replay data can also be shared with friends, allowing them to watch your crowning achievements, or blow your highest score away by defeating your ghost.

At first I was worried about the difficulty of Elite Beat Agents. I had played quite a few stages on the hard difficulty and still wasn’t having much trouble. My doubts were quickly destroyed, as later songs become very difficult. In early songs, the dots are lined up nice and neat for you. It is clear in what order you must tap them, and they are evenly spaced. As you progress, dots begin to bunch up, sometimes even stacked on top of each other, or are randomly placed all over the screen. Following the tap order becomes more of a challenge, and more drag lines are mixed in just to spice things up.

Elite Beat Agents is mostly a rhythm game, but with its fabulous presentation, wacky story, and frenzied gameplay it can easily be enjoyed by anyone. With no specific buttons, puzzles to solve, or enemies to defeat there’s virtually no learning curve. Good music, entertaining scenarios, and fun gameplay make EBA a fantastic title for the DS.             

Review Scoring Details - Elite Beat Agents

Gameplay: 9.4
At first it seems almost too simple, but the simplicity just makes learning the game easier. If you want difficulty, Elite Beat Agents has it. If you aren’t ready for the harder songs, no problem; this one is fun no matter what skill level you are.

Graphics: 8.5 
There’s no breakthrough graphics here, but the story is fleshed out in absurd comic strip style scenes. The style of art gives EBA so much character, and it adds to the humor of the already outrageous themes.

Sound: 9.2
The music in EBA is great. Songs like Material Girl by Madonna and Makes No Difference by Sum 41 are just a couple examples. The soundtrack includes songs new and old from multiple genres, so every gamer is bound to like something.

Difficulty: Easy-Hard
Only two difficulties are available in the beginning, and both start out pretty easy. The higher difficulty gets pretty tough, but the real challenge begins in the unlockable difficulties.

Concept: 8.0 
A rhythm game using a touch screen is a great idea, but it still feels like they could have done a little more. Keeping the game simple allowed for an even difficulty spread, though, plus now there’s room for a sequel.

Multiplayer: N/A

I wasn’t able to test the multiplayer modes without another DS, but there was both a versus mode and a co-op mode.

Overall: 9.4
There were a lot of times I was laughing out loud while playing this game. The cut scenes truly are great, and the gameplay itself keeps getting better and better as you progress. Elite Beat Agents is one of those games that both novices and experts can enjoy.


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