"Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure" may be the umpteenth packaging of the basic rhythm-game formula, but the formula has never been packaged so well. If nothing else, Paris has never been rendered so beautifully in a video game.
"Rhythm Thief" casts you as Raphael, by day a boy, by night a boy in a costume who makes a sport of art theft. With his dog Fondue by his side, Raphael, transformed into alter ego Phantom R, makes stealing art seem like the most fun thing in the world. Perhaps it's because every heist promises Sega-style madness, like Raphael fleeing across the Parisian rooftops chased by cops on roller skates.
As these zany scenes play out -- always to a song -- you're essentially the rhythm section of an unseen band, hitting buttons or sliding the stylus across the 3DS' touchscreen in accordance with on-screen cues.
And you're not just here to make beautiful music. Hitting A at the right time in the rooftop chase scene sends Raphael jumping over his pursuers, while hitting B sends him sliding under them.
|'Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure'|
|» System: 3DS|
|» Price: $39.99|
|» Rating: 3 out of 5 stars|
The game doubles as a tour of Paris. Between songs, players are treated to animated story sequences and musical puzzles -- memorizing melodies, finding the odd tone out, etc. -- and illicit after-hours visits to a faithfully re-created Louvre and Musee d'Orsay will tantalize art lovers.
Purely as a rhythm game, "Rhythm Thief" doesn't add much to the familiar mechanics of the genre, and the individual tunes, based largely on funk, of all things, aren't as infectious as the characters or the setting.
But even if "Rhythm Thief's" song sequences fade quickly from your mind, your time spent sneaking through museums with Raphael will be fondly remembered.