Elite Beat Agents
For those that are coming into this hands-on unfamiliar with just what exactly Elite Beat Agents is, take a minute or two to read our borderline-hyperbolic import review of Ouendan, in which we call the title "the best game on the Nintendo DS and one of the greatest games ever made." Seriously, just read it.
Back? Good. The connection is that Elite Beat Agents is actually Nintendo's attempt to localize the "wacky jappy" Ouendan and make it appropriate for American consumption. Gone is the surprisingly-charming J-Pop soundtrack, replaced with English hits such as Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" and Steriogram's "Walkie Talkie Man." Even the storylines and artwork that accompanied each track in the Japanese release have been changed. Instead of helping a struggling noodle shop owner, you might now be helping a girl who wants to woo a jock who can do nothing but think about football. You get the idea.
Heck, even the main characters themselves have been changed from male cheerleaders to "elite beat agents" - members of a mysterious agency that exists solely to help people with their problems, big or small.
Basically, instead of merely being a localization, Elite Beat Agents is more accurately described as a full-on English sequel, thanks to its new tracks, new storyline and characters, and new beat phrases created to fit the English music. The question is, is the game still fun to play?
Thankfully the answer remains yes. Purists will complain that the music isn't as charming, and in truth they might be right, but that didn't stop me from having a blast burning through Walkie Talkie Man. The gameplay itself appears to be unchanged. Notes appear on the touch-screen and have to be tapped with the stylus at the proper time (in beat with the music), and in the proper order. It's this combination of rhythm and motor skills that made Ouendan so fantastic, and its very-much present in Elite Beat Agents. It isn't as simple as other rhythm games where there are just button presses to concern yourself with. In Elite Beat Agents notes will appear all over the touch screen and have to be tapped with accuracy.
My honest opinion is that it's going to be very tough for Elite Beat Agents to live up to the consistently excellent soundtrack and note design found in Ouendan. At the same time, however, the concept and mechanics are so fun that even if it doesn't live up to its Japanese cousin it will still be a must-own title for rhythm game fans.
Modojo will have all the latest on soundtrack and additional EBA details as they become available.