Rhythm Zone Review
On paper, Rhythm Zone is a compelling idea; a simple four-button rhythm game that gives PC gamers the ability to play their own library of songs with support for friends and global leaderboards. How could this possibly be a disaster?
Rhythm Zone opts for a single mode that allows players to jump in and play any of the 20+ included songs, or start importing their own. The songs that come with the game are from different indie artists, most of which you probably won’t know. That’s where your years of song collecting comes into play. The process of importing them into the game is the problem. There is no way to upload more than a single song at a time, which makes uploading full albums a tedious process. What’s more frustrating is that each song takes 10-20 seconds to get “analyzed” and imported to the library.
The time it takes to analyze each song could have been excused if the notes on the highway actually correlated with the music. Instead, notes just drop randomly, albeit in some sort of rhythm that matches the currently selected song, but in no way makes you feel like you are playing the song. Playing on Easy fits each song the most since it follows the basic rhythm. Switch over to expert and the game literally heaves up notes that will leave your fingers in pain.
The support for friend and global leaderboards is a welcome addition, although don’t expect them to be very hard to beat. As you or other players around the world post their scores, they can be set as Challenges. Other players can then take on that challenge and try to beat the high score. If successful, it can be a back and forth battle as losers try again and again to reclaim their scores. The Challenges system is appealing, but in the end not worth the trouble, due to the poor gameplay.
The game heavily borrows its aesthetics from the original Rock Band, with colorful, abstract shapes floating and rotating around the menu screens. The gameplay mimics the rhythm game juggernauts as well, down to its slanted highway, and the ability to activate Focus Power, which is just another name for Star Power. This should have resulted in success, but the game's engine lags slightly, which makes missing notes far too frequent. Losing your multiplier for "missing" a note that you absolutely know you hit is downright frustrating.
The title screen, which warns against seizures, should have included a warning against extreme frustration. The fact that the developers are constantly updating the game with more free songs is admirable, but even those don’t end up matching to the notes, which ultimately makes them worthless. If anything, Rhythm Zone is a hardcore dexterity workout, but rhythm game junkies should look elsewhere.