Usually, when you mesh together two popular genres into one game, you’re asking for trouble. That’s because, most of the time, developers forsake the elements of one type of game in order to make the other work. Sometimes they pull off the unthinkable and make a great game – other times, though, it’s a mess.
Which is why I was a bit nervous for Akupara Games’ Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor. It’s a game filled with ambition, mixing together role-playing elements and battles with…music/rhythm gameplay? Hey, if I want music/rhythm gameplay done right, I’ve already got Taiko Drum Master for my PlayStation 2. At least, that’s what I said to myself.
But since then, I’ve gotten into the game and found it to be less than daunting, and instead something that grew on me. It’s not exactly going to take my household by storm like Taiko did, but it’s still a unique, well-mixed game that provides something for both dancing fans and role-playing masters to enjoy. Final Fantasy XV it obviously isn’t, but for an independent effort with a lot of spirit, it’ll suffice.
The game utilizes an active time battle system as you set up attacks on enemies while, at the same time, popping in rhythm elements to make sure you can execute everything properly. You actually have to balance it out for each member, so that you can see how well each one does individually. That’s a lot different from how something like Theatrhythm worked, and it can be a little tiring at first, but it’s a neat system that works effectively over time – and allows you to kick butt as you get better at matching up rhythms and creating some real powerhouses on your squad.
It’s also well-balanced when it comes to battles, as some characters do better with elements than others, so you can actually set up your squad to get the most out of each fight. You can also customize your party accordingly, though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a healer in the bunch, alongside your warriors and tanks. There are only nine characters in all, but they all bring something to this particular, ahem, party.
I also liked how well the music/rhythm gameplay worked. It’s a bit plain, like a lessened down Amplitude HD, but still effective, and the song selections are very good, with some not-so-typical tracks from the likes of Shiny Toy Guns and other talented artists. You won’t be bored here, unless you’re used to the hyper-crazy J-pop from your Dance Dance Revolution sessions. Otherwise, you’ll be fine.
There are also side quests and optional missions to take on, so Metronomicon isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as other games out there. There’s also an Endless mode available so you can continue your battling well into the night, in case you’re really up for conquering the dance floor. Speaking of which, the Arena mode is pretty good as well, throwing a few new challenges your way.
Multiplayer plays a good part in the game, as you can play online with a friend, or even do local co-op if you’re up for it. The leaderboards are a nice touch as well, in case you’re feeling a bit on the competitive side. It’s not as cool as Arena mode, but, hey, we’ll take that feature.
And for those that are live-streaming, there’s a helpful system that tells you which songs are copywritten for possible blockage on YouTube, and which you’re good to go with. Not like the game will be getting Rock Band-esque videos or anything like that, but it’s a neat aspect just in case you’re looking to show off your battling skill.
As for the graphics, they aren’t as highly detailed as Theatrhythm’s impeccable world, but the team at Akupara did a splendid job with it anyway, featuring some great characters, fun scenarios and fast-moving battles. The in-between stuff could use a little cleaning up, but it’s not bad. And, again, the song list is more fun than expected, especially with the likes of Takahito Eguchi thrown in. Don’t know who that is? Go look Eguchi up. Trust me.
Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor may not have been the game that players were really itching for, but I’m glad it’s around. It successfully merges two great tastes together into one inventive experience that players won’t get enough of. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and I’m hoping more music will make the cut, but it’s a good time all the same, with solid controls, abundant multiplayer options (and leaderboards) and a fun little presentation. When it comes to delivering an entertaining music experience, Metronomicon kills it.
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.