Rhythm Sprout is one of those games that takes you by surprise.
Sure, with the knowledge that it’s a rhythm action game and a cursory glance at screenshots you have an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. But settle down to play it and chances are you’ll be wowed by its quirkiness and simple yet utterly enthralling gameplay. We’ll say it now: Rhythm Sprout is perhaps one of the best music rhythm games of all time, sitting alongside the likes of Gitaroo Man and Guitar Hero. It’s that good.
The story goes like this: the Vegetable Kingdom is under threat. King Sugar Daddy and his evil army of sweets are making their move, and King Brock fears his days may soon be over. And so all hope falls on you. As the Chosen Onion, lovingly known as Sprout due to the growth on your head, it’s your job to head out and face King Sugar Daddy head-on. Along the way, maybe you could find the King’s daughter, too? Princess Cauliflower has been missing for a short while now, after all.
It’s clear from the first scene you encounter in the main story of Rhythm Sprout that it’s genuinely funny. The premise is daft but the dialogue here is even dafter. It’s absolutely ridiculous, in fact, but in the best possible way. The interactions between Sprout and the vegetables and sweets he meets on his adventure will raise a smile at least, but should cause most to break out into an actual belly laugh. The writing, and sometimes timing, is brilliant, making this perhaps the first rhythm action game where we’ve been just as entertained by the story as we have the action itself.
That’s saying a lot when the gameplay here is as entertaining as it is. The main story of Rhythm Sprout will take you through 20 rhythm-based stages. On the face of it, it’s much like any other any rhythm game: notes fly towards you from the top of the screen and you need to press the associated button as they cross a marker at the bottom. What’s unique here though, is that with every successful yellow and pink note you hit, your heroic onion takes one step forward.
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There aren’t just yellow and pink notes, though. There are blue notes, too, and hitting these make you dodge. You’ll encounter some of these as you simply push forward, but more will be thrown at you when you come face to face with an enemy, the music changing momentarily as you take time to deal with them. These blue notes are particularly important to hit them as if you fail them you’ll take damage. Run out of health and it’s back to the beginning of the stage you go.
This unique system, made trickier with the introduction of dark blue notes that you need to avoid, makes Rhythm Sprout one of the most interesting rhythm games in recent memory. It’s a fresh take on the format that’s easy to pick up but very challenging as you progress. And with a brilliant soundtrack that encompasses a range of genres including hip-hop, EDM and even metal, you’ll return to it time and time again to master its stages and save the Vegetable Kingdom once and for all.
While saving the Vegetable Kingdom sounds grand, it probably won’t take you much more than a few hours. It doesn’t mean your time with Rhythm Sprout has to end, however. And it likely won’t: completing a stage opens up a variety of modifiers for you to play with, such as a Turbo Mode and Randomizer. Earning Stars by maximizing your score and combos allows you to unlock a range of outfit and weapon skins, too. So, there are plenty of reasons to keep going back.
And there’s more. As you make your way through the main story and earn stars, you’ll unlock access to a separate prequel story and some tough-as-nails bonus missions. Ultimately, Rhythm Sprout feels very generous for its modest asking price. The only thing that has left a sour taste in our mouths about it is that you can’t remap the buttons for notes. But it’s not a major issue in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re a fan of rhythm games or simply love quirky adventures, consider Rhythm Sprout an essential purchase. This is a game that has snuck up on us from nowhere but has thoroughly rocked our worlds. Combining comedy with rhythm-based gameplay, it’s tickled our funny bones and tested our timing while also making us tap our feet and bob our heads. And we’ll certainly be revisiting it for a long time to come.