As far as rhythm games go, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is, indeed, one of the craziest. But is it super? That depends upon how you’re playing it.
The game is centered around the castle, an almost surrealistic structure of instruments that provide pathways and horns that lift you up to new levels. As I mentioned in my interview with Konami’s Christian Spears, it’s like a visual and tonal mashup of the Yellow Submarine movie and Teen Titans Go.
The premise is that the evil King Ferdinand has taken over the castle and filled it with traps to make sure you can’t reach him to claim the throne. But Ferdinand is not a total jerk; you can still work your way through if you’re able to overcome his rhythm challenges.
Those challenges work as you’d expect. Markers will drop down a set path—albeit a path that frequently changes shape. Players need to hit or hold the corresponding buttons (L, Y, and R on regular mode, L, right D-pad, Y, and R on pro mode) when the marker reaches the bottom line. It’s familiar, but surprisingly more challenging than some other rhythm games I’ve played.
There are a couple reasons for this, the first of which I consider a fault. The game requires somewhat unrealistic precision considering the multiple types of buttons required (L/R vs. Y). You have the option to adjust the timing, but not in a way that’s properly explained. I eventually got the hang of having to hit the buttons a bit early, but anyone who wants to hop in for some quick gameplay is likely going to hop right back out in frustration.
The second reason for the increased challenge is a feature. In fact, it’s the very heart of the game. You’re not just tapping away to the rhythm in Super Crazy Rhythm Castle, you’re solving puzzles. Or, more accurately, you’re completing tasks. Obstacles are constantly being thrown at you during the rhythm battles, and you’ll need to clear them out in order to proceed. Pick up debris and deposit it in its proper place. Collect treasure/junk. Destroy enemies by tossing vegetables at them. Fill up your health meter after missing too many rhythm markers. All of this makes up the “crazy.”
The chaotic pacing of these tasks combined with the need to keep up the rhythm makes for a chaotic gaming experience that’s a lot of fun…until the challenge becomes overwhelming. You can’t proceed without obtaining at least one of three stars on each challenge, and that’ll prove exceptionally difficult to do on some levels. Playing in single player requires you to completely drop the rhythm portion to tackle the challenges, but the game doesn’t seem to care that you’re on your own. If the requirements to proceed were lowered, I couldn’t tell.
So, you’ll definitely want to play this game with others, either locally or online. Let one or more of you hammer out the rhythms while you get puzzle support from other players. As I mentioned before, however, the required precision makes this a difficult game for people to just pick up and play. You’ll either want to find qualified participants online or make sure you’ve got a local “band” (or duo) set up from start to finish. Of course, there are a couple options to bring players up to speed. You can practice in the Music Lab once you gain access to it, and there are multiplayer games to keep everyone entertained outside outside of the story.
Complexities aside, then, I don’t have many criticisms for Super Crazy Rhythm Castle. The graphics are unique and colorful. The castle itself is a fun and often surprising place to explore. Menu navigation is simple. The story is clever. The characters are charming and frequently amusing.
But, this being a rhythm game at heart, how’s the music? Well, it depends upon what you want. Aside from a few bonus Konami themes, the music is mostly pulled from royalty-free music sources such as Getty Images. That may sound generic, but the majority of the songs are actually really good. And even when they didn’t align with my tastes, their usage felt appropriate. I’ve made the point elsewhere that I’d rather play “original” songs than licensed music I already know I don’t like, so this choice of material allows players to focus solely on the gameplay.
The end result is that Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is a lot of fun, but you’ve got to play it on its own terms. Single player presents roadblocks that are hard to overcome, and the difficulty level makes it hard to recruit players to help you past those challenges. But if you’ve got steady, local access to a few music-loving friends, or if you find some skilled online players, this is definitely a castle worth storming.