Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm
Now Available on Steam
Developed by JMJ Interactive
The electric town of Akihabara. The lights, the colors, sounds and the music that fill the city and give it the reputation of being on the fringe of modern popular culture. The arcades with their flashing screens undecipherable wall of noise, and UFO catchers packed with cute and colorful goods. The music stores blaring the latest in pop music to entice passerby's. The energy of the streets, and the mentality of a fast moving generation, wanting more but never quite having enough. Akihabara is a town meant to indulge.
And like the town, Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm knows just how to indulge. It tackles quite a hefty number of puzzle game tropes combining the toe-tapping rhythm keeping of Lumines, the logical shape matching of games like Bejeweled and Zoo Keeper, with the line-breaking color combining of games like Puyo Puyo or Tetris. Symbols are matched in pairs of four, as you would expect, but the changing of blocks is done precisely on the beat in order to keep the score multiplier going. Just like Lumines this rewards players who have a keen ear for music and a memorization of the songs being played with a much higher score and a more prestigious spot on the world leaderboards.
Classic electronic music sounds with just a touch of synth-y Japanese New Wave of the 80's, which is what drew my ears. The warm tone of the keyboard, the bright and poppy bits of piano, led by a simple Karaoke kind of metronome beat. It fits the setting more than well and shows a keen knowledge of this aspect and region of popular culture from this developer. I definitely felt an authentic, albeit older generational feel from what Akihabara was trying to convey about the atmosphere of a bustling Japanese city.
I was surprised how much music there was, and of very genuine quality. Even more surprising was finding out that these were composed by the developer himself, which given the wide range and variety heard while playing was impressive to me. Considering it's indie status and incredibly low and fair price-point I was only really expecting a handful of songs, but was pleased to see the campaign continue on for a total of ten.
It's a bit busy at first, and the fact that the game is tackling so many styles in puzzling creates an atmosphere of madness at first. But as you become familiar with the shapes provided in the blocks of each distinct song, it becomes second nature, and very rewarding. Fans of Lumines who are okay with a bit more of an involved thinking process and less of a Zen-ful approach should definitely take note, because there really hasn't been anything since it to keep the style of rhythm-based puzzle solving going.
Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm delivers a worthy entry in the genre and adds more than enough of its own personality and flavor to keep those within its demographic coming back for more of its great music and authentic atmosphere.