Historically rhythm games haven't been heavy on story and intrigue, but that may be about to change with Sega's charming entry in the genre - Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure. The game sees honourable thief and master dancer - Raphael - and his sidekick dog dive head first into mysteries that take a good sense of beat to conquer.
It's easy to enough to peg Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure as Professor Layton meets Elite Beat Agents, and you wouldn't be wrong. Be the game also appears to do enough on its own, with superb visuals, memorable tunes and plenty of different puzzles and rhythmic challenges to engage in.
At Tokyo Game Show Sega offered up a ten minute demo of the game and the main surprise was how much of it was story, cutscenes and dialogue seems at the centre of the experience. In between story segments we were given a taste of Raphael's dancing skills with a simple "drag the stylus in right, left, up or down" style mini game. What was nice was how your performance would affect the picture quality, do well and its crisp and sharp, do poorly and it becomes grainy.
After this Raphael made his way towards the Louvre - yes, the game takes place in Paris - and apparently he was looking to pinch an artefact of some kind that could help him solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. After talking to a few people we made it to a back alley, where a simple game of memory allowed us to gain access to the famous museum. That signalled the end of the demo.
In the both a rather lengthy trailer showed off some other mini games, including ones that saw you mimicking a violin virtuoso with your stylus and mini games using the gyroscope. The latter will undoubtedly mess up your 3D experience, and I can certainly attest to the fact that you will want to have the 3D turned on to enjoy the lush visuals of the game. The music is what you can expect from a Japanese rhythm game, catchy tunes that you'll find it hard to shake.
Even if the game seems very story heavy, and does also hint at some non-linear action as you open up and move around a map of Paris, choosing who to talk to and perhaps later on even what path to take. You were able to pick up coins, similar to what you do in Professor Layton, but exactly what these will be used for is unclear at the moment.
Overall, we were very impressed by Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, and it's encouraging that Sega confirmed a western release as soon as they announced it - a sign we won't have to wait too long for it.
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