Rhythm Heaven Megamix knows music is a universal language

Rhythm Heaven Megamix is a very Japanese game. It has a frog doo-wop group. Seals are flip-flopping in time with the music. Plenty of people are singing, dancing and playing sports with monkeys. There is no way anyone would look at this and think it was made anywhere other than Japan. Which is why we should all acknowledge and appreciate the series finally embracing its roots with Rhythm Heaven Megamix‘s language option.

The Rhythm Heaven series began in Japan with Rhythm Tengoku for the Game Boy Advance. The series’ first installment overseas was Rhythm Heaven Gold, which you’ll know better as Rhythm Heaven, Rhythm Paradise or Rhythm World depending on your region. Despite being so quirky, unique and weird, Nintendo went to great lengths to tailor the experience to each area. Japanese audio was removed and replaced with dubs in both the Nintendo DS and Wii releases. Rhythm Heaven Megamix, the fourth game in the series, is the first entry to give those of us outside of Japan a language option. The text remains in English, but the audio switches to Japanese.

And what an option it is. I don’t think it’s possible to appreciate how good the original Japanese audio is unless you have the ability to swap between it and Nintendo’s English dub. Rhythm Heaven Megamix allows us to choose whichever one we prefer. We aren’t locked into this choice, in the event of a minigame where the aural cues may be better in one language than another. I largely prefer the Japanese audio, but the minor language barrier means I’ll switch to English for minigames like Marching Orders. I find the English voices in Ringside distracting, so I’ll switch to Japanese. Fan Club sounds cute in both languages, but people get the opportunity to choose the one they want to hear.

Giving players the ability to decide what’s best for them allows us to avoid cringe-worthy experiences. There exists a minigame in Rhythm Heaven Megamix called Frog Hop. It’s a carry-over from the DS game. Frog Hop has, in my opinion, the worst song in the series. (Naturally, it’s also one of the catchiest.) As bad as it is, the language option means we can choose between the totally tolerable Japanese and absolutely abysmal English versions of “Young Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Listen for yourself, and you’ll hear the difference.

Frog Hop in Japanese

Frog Hop in English

To be fair, Frog Hop’s song (probably) isn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be. Everyone has their Rhythm Heaven Megamix favorites. But, there’s a better flow in the Japanese version of the song. The triggers for turns and the more pronounced hip swings fit more naturally within the Japanese rendition of “Young Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” They’re more jarring and dissonant within the English version. It’s an important distinction in a game where the cues should fit comfortably within the song, barely standing out. You only notice this when given the ability to compare.

By allowing us this language option, Rhythm Heaven Megamix becomes more functional and fun. We’re given a choice; we customize the experience to our liking. It gives us the chance to experiment and see which songs and cues we prove, culminating in an optimal aural experience. It’s something to be appreciated and commended. It took four games for this option to appear and, now that it’s here, we’re finally getting the full Rhythm Heaven experience.

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