|Version Reviewed: Nintendo DS
When I first got my copy of Elite Beat Agents, I was thoroughly thrilled about it. Being a fan of music games (such as Dance Dance Revolution, and its flash counterpart, Flash Flash Revolution), I was very excited to open up the box and put this game into my DS. Now, for those of you who are fans of import games, you might recognize the gameplay of EBA from the Japanese music video game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, which is also for the DS. In essence, both of these games are the same, except EBA is a more Americanized version, using songs made popular in the US, as opposed to Japan, and having pop culture references which are more relevant to an American fan base. In general, EBA is a sort of “spiritual sequel” to Ouendan.
Honestly, Elite Beat Agents has some of the most random stories ever created for a video game. In one story, you’ll have to play through a song to help an athlete recover from an illness before a big meet, and in another, you’ll have to help rich girls who are stranded on a deserted island. As for a general storyline, there really isn’t one. It’s basically a game that is pieced together through many different stories, and concludes in one final climactic story arc. Personally, I think this adds to the overall premise of the game. It shows how many different people with varying issues can team up in the end to help each other solve their greatest common problem. My favorite part of this is the fact that each story is told in the style of a comic book. So, this game really feeds both my gaming hunger, and my manga hunger. All-in-all, the stories of this game add depth to it, and make it that much more fun to play.Now, the gameplay in this title is where it really shines. When most people think of a music game, they think of four arrows at the top of the screen, moving up while they have to hit the correct arrows at the correct time, either on their dance mat, or on their keyboard. Well, is completely different from that. The gameplay combines several different elements, the most prominent being to hit a circle when it’s indicated on the screen. The way this works is that a larger circle encloses the main circle, and the user must tap that circle when the outer circle is as close to the edge of the inner circle as possible. The more accurate you are, the higher your score. Now, there are some variations to this (such as a sliding ball), and there is also a spinner that has to be spun as fast as possible in order to score points. Overall, the gameplay is easy to figure out initially, but can be very, very tricky to perfect.
The graphics of this game are, in my opinion, very well done for a handheld console. With full utilization of the dual-screen interface of the DS, Elite Beat Agents delivers more than would have been possible on previous consoles, even ones as recent as the Game Boy Micro. The top screen is generally used for stats, and (within levels) to advance the storyline. The touch screen is used for gameplay, as well as selecting the level (which is shown on a globe, giving the game more of a world-wide feel). The only real drawback to the graphics is the fact that characters seem a bit blocky, at times, on the touch screen. Even so, the graphics are still surprisingly well done, especially for a handheld console. In the end, the graphics of this game are one of the main reasons that it shines as brightly as it does among other games in its genre.
In Elite Beat Agents, one aspect stands out above the rest. Elite Beat Agents, being a music video game, emphasizes its soundtrack. In the game, you can hear popular songs such as “Sk8r Boi,” “Y.M.C.A.,” and “The Anthem.” The only down side to this is the fact that all songs in the game are performed by cover artists (much like the original Guitar Hero). For some songs, however, this isn’t really an issue (Personally I like the EBA cover of Ashlee Simpson’s “La La” better than her version). Overall, Elite Beat Agents delivers well in the audio department, the cover versions of the songs living up to their original counterparts, for the most part.
Elite Beat Agents is a game that most would pick up, look at, say “not enough blood”, and put down again. However, for those of us who absolutely love music, EBA is probably one of the best games in the world. Although it isn’t jam packed with violence, blood, and explosions like most video games today, it still has that fun feel to it. EBA is one of those games you start playing, thinking “This is going to be too easy. I’ll get bored with it within a day.” Well, EBA is far from that type of game. If you’re one of the people who might think that, then here’s my recommendation: Go out, pick up a copy of the game, and then stare in awe, as you realize there’s much more to this game than meets the eye.