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Maestro! Green Groove - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Maestro! Green Groove

DSiWare | Neko Entertainment / Pastagames | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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4th August 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

As someone who loves music/rhythm games, I especially love it when developers think of new, innovative ways to approach this genre. And this is exactly what Neko Entertainment has done with Maestro! Green Groove. Originally part of a retail release in Europe, this is the first time gamers in North America have been able to experience this game (without importing, of course). And although it's just a small portion of the full-fledged DS game, it's still a really good DSiWare title that just about anyone would do well to try.

    The game's Adventure Mode stars Presto, a pink bird who fearlessly chases after the villainous Staccato and his evil spider minions. In this music-based platformer, you guide the main character though a series of levels, putting on a performance along the way. Each level will feature a song from the classical genre of music, and all of the challenges and pick-ups will be organized in such a way that they correspond to the music. Presto will constantly be on the run, much like in Bit.Trip RUNNER. But unlike Commander Video's departure, you won't be forced to start over if imperfection gets in the way of your success. Sounds good to me!

    You'll be running along pieces of string, almost as if you're on a musical instrument. Swiping your stylus downwards will cause Presto to bounce up into the air, while swiping from underneath will bring him down to whatever lies below. As the camera scrolls along, you'll notice a bunch of platforms either above or below which also consist of pieces of string. A bright line will appear on these segments, getting smaller as you get closer. You'll need to perform a quick stroke with your stylus shortly before they disappear to score points as the song plays. Symbols of your success are displayed in the form of coloured musical notes. Watch out for the tricky sets of three strings, where you'll have to quickly stroke one after the other.

    It's important that you pay attention to what's coming up ahead and act accordingly. If you don't swipe in time, you'll incur penalties and maybe even fall off the stage if you're not prepared. The path will also have an assortment of fruits that emit sounds of a drum when they're collected, helping you keep the rhythm of the song. As you get to later levels, you'll also need to worry about additional elements. Red strings will cause you to spring high up into the air onto the top screen as you rise and descend back to the touch screen. There are also spiders that sometimes creep up from below. You'll need to tap them in tune with the music once the outer ring reaches the middle, much like Elite Beat Agents.

    The entire concept is really, really well done. It sounds simple, but there's a lot that goes into it that you may not be able to discern after the first two levels. Like many other music games before it, doing well is a matter of patience, listening to the song closely and even studying the layout of the level. As you continually perform good plays, a herd of tiny birds will follow your trail; conversely, bad plays will cause evil music notes to come after you, bringing you to a halt if you don't manage to recover from your losses. It's very pleasing to have this kind of instant indications on your progress, and seeing the little birds join in on your venture is just great.

After every few levels, you'll engage in a quick boss encounter against Staccato where you'll need to play Simon Says, replicating taps on drums and quick tugs on musical spider webs. Clearing this isn't difficult, but it serves as a segway into an increased difficulty setting. Following the first couple levels on Easy, you'll advance to Normal mode where things pick up a notch, and then again in Hard mode as you approach the final boss. You'll definitely notice your skills improve if you stick with it, and to be honest, there's little reason for you not to persist. There's practically no ounce of frustration to be had, which reflects well on the developers as an example of good game design.

    There are three licensed songs that you'll encounter in this game, Beethoven's symphony being one of them. I loved one track in particular, and I kept coming back to play it and improve my score. It's a lot of fun to play these songs, and you shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself humming or whistling to the music. What's cool is that in some levels, there's an option where you can actually let the game read your feedback to build up energy in a jar. It's a really cool feature using the DSi microphone in that way, and it definitely deserves praise.

    Completing the Adventure portion of the game won't take very long at all. In fact, you can do so in less than 2 hours so definitely take your time if at all possible and avoid rushing through it. Once you do see the game ending, you can always go back to improve your rank on each song under the Tracklist mode. Simply select the difficulty, and the stage, and you'll be off trying to achieve an A+ ranking. There's also a Free Play mode where you can play without worrying about scores, just relaxing and enjoying tunes. While I am very grateful that I was able to experience this for the first time, I only wished that the developers included more content considering what's found in the retail package. But if the developers are secretly planning additional DSiWare follow-ups, then count me in.

    Maestro! Green Groove is a standout title for this genre of gaming. Perhaps it may not be heavy on content, but it's still moderately replayable. Even if it only lasts for a short while, this is a quality DSiWare release that must be experienced. And for $5, there's really no excuse why you shouldn't want to experience all this gem has to offer.

26/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Great mechanics that work well, makes use of the DSi's microphone as an optional feature, original and totally immersive
Presentation 9/10 - Good selection of classical tunes, lovely art style, looks really good, uses the top screen on occasion for special animations
Enjoyment 5/5 - Lots of fun to play, especially enjoyable when there's a lot of involvement required, no frustration to put a damper on your experience
Extra Content 3/5 - Adventure Mode can be beaten easily, Tracklist Mode offers replayability in aiming for A+ rankings, could've had more content

Equivalent to a score of 87% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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