Music is not just sound, it can be a journey. Join Cailie as she experiences the sights and sounds of Akihabara City’s music scene. And stacks blocks. Can’t forget to stack blocks. It’s what all the cool kids are doing nowadays.
Akihabara is essentially a block stacking game with a rhythmic core. Players attempt to connect matching blocks, in sets of three, four or five, depending on the difficulty setting. Each block can be swapped out for another type, but only when the beat bar passes over it. The more in time with the beat the block change, the faster the bonus meter fills.
Once the bonus meter fills a block can be charged. This block upon landing, explodes, destroying other blocks around it. The play area is set in four columns, and blocks appear in rows which fill all four columns. If one column fills up with blocks, the player fails the level.
There are two modes: Single Song and Campaign. Single Song lets players practice on one of the ten levels, and attempt to accrue as high a score as possible. Campaign systematically takes the player through all ten levels. Both modes have global leaderboards, so you can see how you fare against the rest of the world in beating it.
Much like the idea the game encompasses, Akihabara is quite a journey. Unfortunately, it isn’t always a good one.
The core of Akihabara, the block stacking itself, is actually really fun. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the process of managing the block changes to the beat. And there is a tactical facet to the choices you make that brought about some satisfying games.
Of course, Akihabara is about music. Thankfully most of the songs are interesting to listen too. They occupy a nice middle ground, between sitting in the background and providing the player with the necessary audio cues. Songs will loop a few times during Campaign play, even more so in Single Song mode, but they never seem to wear out their welcome.
While the game play and music are quite well crafted, unfortunately the rest of Akihabara suffers. The artwork quality varies wildly. Some levels are interesting, with background and blocks which enhance the game. But most levels are bland, consisting of indistinct backgrounds with mundane block designs.
Almost everything about Akihabaras visuals is large and bulky. The menu is chunky and ugly, game effects are garish and distracting, and the game area itself is a poor use of screen real estate. And while the character illustration of Cailie is well done, it is underused.
Most frustrating of all is that there are really no settings. Players have the option to change the game difficulty, or speed, but that is about it. No video options, no sounds options. On some resolutions the screen appears to be stretched to make it full screen, not a great look for the already suffering artwork. And not being able to set the sound in-game means a bit of flitting between the game and your desktop.
These problems with Akihabara are really disappointing. Largely because if they were tightened up to the same level as the music and gameplay, I think it would be a fantastic game. In its current state it is playable, but it just doesn’t offer the sleek and modern experience that the concept seems to warrant.
If you are thinking of adding a quick game that doesn’t demand much of the player to your collection, then you should look into Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm. While your world isn’t going to be rocked, in the very least it might be rolled.
SUMMARY: A fun interpretation of the classic block-stacking format that unfortunately falls apart in execution. Still worth a look if you enjoy quick and simple reactionary puzzle games.
Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm was developed and published by JMJ Interactive. It is available now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 3 hours
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