Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure

User Rating: 5 | Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure 3DS

Raphael, the thief known as "Phantom R" steals works of art, only to return them days later for reasons unknown. This time he steals a bracelet from the Louvre which bears the same symbol as a coin left behind by his father. Shortly after, he meets Marie who carries a violin bearing the same symbol. She is pursued by the recently resurrected Napoleon. Yes, this story is a bit weird.

The gameplay is very basic and generally follows a pattern. The main cut-scenes are animated cartoons and fully voiced, but most of the dialogue is static images and text with no voice. You move from one screen to another, tapping on characters to talk to them. Tapping on objects can give you a hidden token. There can also be hidden music notes but it doesn't seem obvious where these will appear. This means you may as well just randomly tap all over the screen before moving on.

The main map shows you where you need to go with the path highlighted in red. This means you can never get lost. The bad thing is, sometimes the game will block you from progressing until you solve a problem. For example, one problem is a guard is blocking your way but he seems scared of dogs. The map will then show you exactly where the dog is. So you go there, “record the sound” then return to the guard to scare him. No thought is needed because the game solves itself.

Once you have travelled to the main location, there's probably some more talking and problems that solve themselves. Then you get a rhythm game. The rhythm games seem to come in the same few varieties. Some involve pressing buttons, others involve tapping the screen and others involve tilting the device.

I found that it was hard to get used to since the frequency of mini-games is low, and the control schemes keep changing. Given that you expect the game to be primarily a rhythm game, I expected a much higher rate of games, and more involving tapping the screen.

The games that have a clear rhythm can be very fun because you can get into the groove without relying on the on-screen prompts. However, some mini-games are really difficult to understand when you need to tap/press the button. This can be for a variety of reasons; weird camera angle, or hectic visuals. Some mini-games can often be annoying by suddenly speeding up/changing tempo without warning, leading to unfair difficulty spikes.

The scoring system is a bit weird since you are severely punished when you make a mistake. There were times I thought I did fantastic but would end up with a B or a C. Since your rank decreases when you make a mistake, making mistakes during the final moments is way more devastating than making them early on.

The art design reminds me of the Professor Layton series. I really liked the French setting, the oddball story, the cartoon aesthetics and the music. The plot development and revelations were well done.

Although I really wanted to like the game, the gameplay is rather basic, tedious, and often frustrating.