Not all puzzle games are alike. For people who like the genre, sometimes it can be hard stressing this. Every puzzle game incorporates something new. Lumines, for example, put in sound and light patterns. For Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm, they go their own way too. It's not a reskinned/re-musiced game – it's a brand new game, that while incorporating some time-tested features, goes into new territory. Let's take a look:
Nothing to report on a story here because there simply is none. Did Tetris have a story? No.
This is a puzzle drop down game much like Candy Crush, Lumines or Big Money. Since it's relatively straight forward on that side, what separates this game from the pack is location – it takes place in Akihabara, the famed Tokyo district which is like Times Square meets the Vegas strip meets an anime convention meets a techno concert. It gives a unique backdrop, and when the music dynamic comes in (more on that in a bit), it helps out with the overall feel.
Controls were fine. This was the Steam version, and it all worked just fine with my keyboard. There's not much to it. The game gives direct, er, directions, and you follow them and it all works fine. If you have no problem playing Tetris or any other puzzle game through Steam, you should have no problem here.
The mechanics on the game were pretty unique. Unlike other games where you simply match on shape, color or something that requires only visual hints, Akihabara incorporates sound into it. During games, you need to change the shape so the line going down can match two or more surrounding squares around it, but you need to change it to the beat of the music to the game. Ever go in a club and bob your head to the music. It's like that, but with a puzzle element.
It's not a terrible idea. Combined with the semi-futuristic/nightclubbed graphics, it combines into a more challenging than usual game. Sometimes it messed up the timing, or would take different music clues than you thought it would, but generally this works just fine.
Music is a huge part of the game. It's all techno/club music, and since the puzzles and how you play rely on the music, it can be a bit of a bother sometimes. You are never going to get it right on the first pass. You need to get to know the beat, the shapes and carry on from there. That being said the music is good (if a little repetitive) and totally fits the area the game is on. Sound has the Namco quality effects that fit with the game as well. Overall – good marks, but I wished there was a bit more variance.
When I played this there weren't many problems. It took awhile to get used to and sometimes the beats were messed up. And sometimes the frame rate would lag a bit. Whenever a new line comes up, a thin white line goes over the puzzle – I noticed that, instead of smoothly going over sometimes, it would awkwardly jump across, and the cubes falling down would follow suit. It didn't happen that often, but it happened. Besides that it handled like a dream.
Overall, while Akihabara is very much like other puzzle games, there's enough new features here to make it worthwhile, especially for the fans of the genre and music-game fans. It's complicated, but at the same time, it can be easy. It's punishing and rewarding. It's worth a look, and if you like puzzle games, it gives a unique enough spin on things to be a bit of a long-runner in your library.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
This game was given to GeekNifty for the purpose of review.