Is Konami back? Konami might be back if Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is anything to go by. Okay, it hasn’t developed this joyously eccentric co-op game – that accolade goes to Brighton-based studio Second Impact Games. But with Konami’s name attached as the publisher, it gives me hope that the Japanese game company is revving up back into action. Because, honestly, I haven’t played anything quite like Super Crazy Rhythm Castle before – in the very best of ways.
As the same suggests, Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is a rhythm game. But it’s also an adventure, a puzzle game, a co-op game and a competitive game. ‘Super Crazy’ really is the best way to describe this ultra-colourful outing because from one moment to the next, you’re going to have no idea what’s happening. One second you’re playing along to a pretty decent song in a rhythm game section; the next you’re banging a magical pot and pan together to get a mischief of rats to follow you. And that’s not even the half of it.
“I haven’t played anything quite like Super Crazy Rhythm Castle before – in the very best of ways.”
You see, your goal is to conquer the weird and wonderful titular Rhythm Castle. Unfortunately, waiting for you inside is the mad King Ferdinand, a talking rhythm-obsessed TV who’s about to inflict a series of challenges upon you. Don’t expect to simply be able to tap along to music here, though. No two levels are the same, and each will throw something completely different at you.
For example, one level has you defeating an evil Eggplant: use your bagpipe-like personal weapon to destroy its roots, then play along to the track to charge up a powerful gatling gun to finish it off. Another one will have you sorting salt, sugar and chili peppers to make the perfect recipe, all while playing along to a track to generate the ingredients in the first place.
Some of the levels are pretty straightforward, but others may take a bit of trial and error before you figure out what you’ve got to do. That might be my only complaint about Super Crazy Rhythm Castle: it’s never very transparent about how to beat a level. Then again, working it out is undoubtedly half the fun.
Related: The Best Online Co-op Games on PS5
The actual rhythm sections of games are rather simple, but enjoyable. On normal difficulty, you’ll use three buttons – both shoulder buttons and a face button – to hit notes as they reach the end of the track. Some notes are short presses, others require you to hold them. If you want more of a challenge, you can up the difficulty, adding in a fourth button. What’s neat is that each player can set their own difficulty independently, so if just one player is a bit of a show-off, the rest of the team doesn’t need to suffer.
“You’re not going to find any songs you know here, but its mixture of genres could well be chart-toppers thanks to how catchy and well-produced they are.”
In between levels, you’re free to wander around areas of the castle, and you’ll often come across small puzzles to solve in order to progress. Maybe you’ll need to find a runaway switch before you can access a new area, perhaps. Or maybe you’ll need to locate the correct music disc so a sound technician can start playing the song before you start playing.
Between jumping into magical telephone boxes that act as warp points, entering the body of a large spicy fish, walking along piano walkways and a baked bean fountain that Beanus would be proud of, every element of Super Crazy Rhythm Castle is delightfully bizarre. Its weird and wonderful world will constantly have you smiling from ear to ear, as will its genuinely funny dialogue.
It also helps that the music is great, too. You’re not going to find any songs you know here, but its mixture of genres could well be chart-toppers thanks to how catchy and well-produced they are. You’ll go from playing along to party bangers to heavy metal numbers and just about everything in between – and honestly, I’ve loved each and every one of them.
“Unique and innovative, this zany adventure through music and puzzling is undoubtedly one of the best co-op games in 2023.”
What’s particularly great is that once you’ve beat a level, not only can you revisit to try and beat your score but you can also play the song from it as a pure rhythm game, challenging your friends to set the best score. There are over 30 tracks in the game, including some hidden Konami classics that can be found in the form of game cartridges as you make your way through the game. Even without all the extra stuff, then, you’ve got a pretty solid rhythm game on your hands. But it’s “all the extra stuff” that makes Super Crazy Rhythm Castle so special.
There isn’t anything else quite like Super Crazy Rhythm Castle. Unique and innovative, this zany adventure through music and puzzling is undoubtedly one of the best co-op games in 2023. Sure, you can play it by yourself, but you’re going to have more fun when you’re battling it out with friends. Do yourself a favour and make sure this is on your playlist when you have friends over this holiday season: you absolutely will not regret it.