Konami have teamed up with developer Second Impact Games to bring us the delightful musical action game, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle. Here’s our hands-on preview.
We might be far removed from the time when rhythm-action games (as popularised by Guitar Hero and Rock Band) were in their heyday, but nobody told developer Second Impact Games. Thank God! Because at a recent Konami preview event I got to go hands on with the studio’s latest title, appropriately named Super Crazy Rhythm Castle, which may have singlehandedly reignited my interest in the genre. In the short hour or so I got to play, I found this co-op puzzler music mashup to be a charming spin on the age-old concept of hitting buttons to the right notes speeding along a track.
The preview began with me selecting one of four whimsical characters. And as is natural when you offer me the chance to play as a hooded blackbird named Jingle, that’s exactly who I’m going to pick. That said, B. Box (an anthropomorphic boombox), Mike the boom operator and dragon lady Trinity all looked appealing too in their own quirky ways. I soon began my entrance into the titular Super Crazy Rhythm Castle, but not before walking along a piano path that played ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ in perfect sequence with my steps.
“Oh yes”, I thought. “This game gets it”.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle first teaches you the basics of how hitting notes alongside a track works. The developers clearly recognise that this is a concept many players will already be familiar with, though, surrounding the tutorial with plenty of loveable interactions between the playable character(s) and the cruel king who forever taints and goads you via a drop-down television set. It swiftly becomes apparent that his job is to do all he can to throw you off your rhythm.
On the Medium difficulty you only need to contend with three tracks for each music rhythm puzzle you come across, while on Hard you have to contend with four. The latter is still one less than what Guitar Hero and Rock Band asked of you on the highest tier, so this is what I selected. Using the L1, R1, Square and Right directional button on the D-pad all felt natural – even during some of the later levels where the tracks themselves start living up to that “Super Crazy” promise by twisting, turning and becoming obscured.
Obviously for a game with music at the forefront, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle will live or die on the songs it has you playing along to. Fortunately, from the four or five songs I got to jam with, this won’t be a problem. There’s said to be 30 original songs in total, all from different artists and spanning genres that include rock, hip hop and dubstep. One of the earliest song puzzles revolved around a rap track with a hook that had the artists singing “wig, wig, wiggle”. It’s lucky I was wearing headphones during my session, because I couldn’t stop bopping.
The songs themselves are only half of the Super Crazy Rhythm Castle equation, though, with the other half being made up of the frantic puzzle scenarios you’re asked to complete them in. One stage depicted a retro boss battle taking place on the screen above. The room itself had two tracks I was forced to dash between, with notes hit on the right letting me attack the on-screen enemy and the notes hit on the left working to heal my character.
Almost all the bite-sized music puzzles I got to play asked me to rub my head and pat my belly in this way, which takes a little getting used to but makes it enticing to go back to try and perfect. Because yes, there’s a rating system here, whereby achieving 100% on a song (or at least very close to it) grants you three stars, which will drop down to one or two stars based on your performance. You need a set number of stars to progress through stages; otherwise you’ll be stuck playing the same three or four songs and their accompanying puzzles.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle quickly went from a game I’d never heard of to a game I can’t wait to play. I’m hoping it’ll be out sooner rather than later, because the soundtrack is ace, the world and characters are charming, and it’s been a while since I’ve played a music rhythm game with quite as much style and charm as this. I can only imagine how much more chaos will ensue when played with a full party of up to three friends.
The story mode is shaping up to be a wild ride, but Second Impact Games has assured that all bases are covered for everyone’s preferred style of play. Though I didn’t get to try either from my hands on, it’s easy to see how multiplayer minigames like elevator arcade and musical escape room ups the rhythm-based ante, while all 30 songs can be played and enjoyed unhindered by the game’s puzzle element in the Music Lab.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle lives up to its title, and could quite possibly be one of the most inventive co-op games of the year (assuming it launches in 2023…).
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle will release on PC via Steam, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch at an undisclosed date. It will retail for £34.99.