As a massive fan of the rhythm genre, I got a bit excited when I saw Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets make its way onto my desk. Music-based gaming was all the rage in the late 2000s and games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band became legendary at this time. These were games that directly linked to the making of music but there were others that took the rhythm idea and ran with it in a more dynamic way that benefitted other genres. This left us with some really innovative and fun new titles to get lost in. The Rhythm genre went a bit cold in the 2010s as other tropes became more popular, (let’s call it the decade of the Battle Royale,) but it never completely went away as is absolutely evidenced by the likes of Beat Sabre, and it’s great to see a brand new take on this really cool concept in the game we’ll be discussing today. With that being said, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets takes the titular Sprout on an adventure to beat King Sugar Daddy and his army of evil sweets. As the chosen onion of King Brock, you’ll also have to deliver a message to his daughter, Princess Cauliflower who’s gone missing. There’s nothing wrong with the premise but this is a game that doesn’t really hit all of the notes as an adventure and I’ll explain why as we go.
Story-wise this title isn’t bad but the narration all feels a bit thin. This is a Rhythm title with some story-based elements but it really feels like more could have been done with the plot. The first character you meet is a carrot farmer, (greens good, sweets bad,) who is hiding from a monster that’s floating about by his home. Being the good sprout you are you agree to go and solve his problem for him. This is great because it leads to what appear to be side quests. From here you kill a couple of monsters and complete the level. You never see him again and there’s no reward. This happens again a couple of levels later with a gang of mushrooms. You are asked whether you want to join them but regardless of what you answer you go on your merry way and that’s the only dialogue with them. Neither of these characters is really integral to the main plot and aside from the mushrooms telling you where you’re going, (the path is linear so this information is basically padding,) there isn’t really any reason for them to exist other than to make the world look a bit more populated. This leaves the narrative feeling a bit thin on the ground outside the main story. This is well written but it just carries the game, you aren’t going to become particularly invested in it, or at least I didn’t.
In addition to things being thin on the ground story-wise, the world of Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets looks nice but feels kind of empty. I’m on level 10 now, which is roughly halfway through the game, and I can count the number of enemies I’ve battled on one hand. The levels aren’t particularly long and combat could be a lot of fun if we saw more of it. This menacing army is currently equated to a couple of angry cupcakes, floating chocolate bars, and the odd killer gingerbread person. The rest of the levels see you walking with each note hit representing a step taken on your path. This could have been a 100% rhythm game and I don’t think it’d have been any worse off. The story kind of feels like wrapping. Pretty, well-written wrapping, but wrapping nonetheless.
As I’ve just mentioned the levels in Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets aren’t very long. I completed roughly half the game in one sitting. After you complete each level you can then go back and play with certain modifiers including remixes that juggle the notes and, therefore, up the difficulty and replayability. I love this because I’m all for longevity in games and it’s great when you can keep going back for more as it’s all just value for money. You’ll get awarded stars as you play so those of you that want to get everything will keep going back and this also makes the game more replayable. This is all great but I think the core game should come first with the extra modes being a nice addition. In this case, I think I’ll have completed the entire game in an evening and the other stuff will be the only thing bringing me back. This makes the longevity of the experience kind of artificial. The base game could have more levels or sub-levels and I think I’d feel more like I was getting my money’s worth. You’ll also unlock the prequel to the main story as you play but again, this is an aside. It’s nice to have but it’s still not making the main game any longer. You’ll unlock bonus levels with your stars too, (about another 10,) which helps but I’m still happy on my hill and I’m going to die on it.
Mechanically Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets is fine when you get used to the controls. Sprout does all the movement for you, you just have to hit rhythm blocks as they pass through a slider as you would in any other rhythm game. The controls couldn’t be simpler and boil down to about three buttons. You won’t struggle too much passing the levels the first time around on basic difficulty it’ll just come down to your rhythm. You’d hope that you’d have some basic skill here or you wouldn’t be playing in the first place, and while Rhythm Sprout gets trickier in the later half of the game, after you’ve learned the song for each level it’s just muscle memory. As I’ve mentioned, this alters with the addition of the extra modifiers but the concept is still the same. The gameplay is fun but nothing I’d call particularly mind-blowing.
Nuts and bolts-wise everything is fine. Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets looks really nice in a blocky, kind of cartoony sort of way. You can tell that a lot of effort has gone into making this game look cool but you’ll only really notice the levels out of your peripheral vision. You’re concentrating so hard on the note blocks that are zooming toward you that you sort of zone out a little bit and stop noticing everything else. The music which should be front and center in a game like this is original and very competently composed and enjoyable to listen to. Nothing stands out as something I’d want to dance around to but it’s perfectly fine for the title. Nothing to complain about on any fronts here but at the same time nothing overly stunning either.
Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets is a fun rhythm game but nothing stands out enough to make this title really special in my opinion. All of the extra stuff that you’re being given feels like a much-needed distraction from the fact that the core game isn’t very long. I’m not saying that I’m not glad that these extras aren’t there, I am, or in my opinion, this game wouldn’t be worth the asking price. There’s definitely a decent amount of replayability present, I just wish there was more to the main game than there is. This is still a fun way to pass the time for rhythm fans looking for something new to get to grips with, and if you want all the stars and unlockables you’ll definitely keep going back till you get them. Achievement hunters will have their work cut out because there are loads of cool skill-based challenges there if they want the unlocks. Those of us that just want a good, time-consuming, adventure shouldn’t expect miracles on that front, though.
One to Beat
Mostly in tune
Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets is a perfectly competent and fun rhythm game. I just wish there was more to the core story and main plot line than there is. There are extra modes to play about with and a prequel to unlock and play through, and this adds much-needed longevity to this title but, for me, this is more of a distraction to the fact that the main adventure isn’t very long. This is definitely a game that’s worth playing, especially if you’re more interested in high scores and grabbing all of the unlocks available, but whether it’s value for money is going to be one for you to decide for yourselves.