Game Diary - August 6, 2008: The Must-Play Nintendo Game Of 2008

'rhythm heaven'Words will fail me as I write this diary entry. I cannot easily describe the magnificent feel of Nintendo's DS game "Rhythm Tengoku Gold" -- coming to America in the next few months as "Rhythm Heaven."

But if "Rhythm Tengoku Gold" were not a video game but instead the process of typing this diary entry, then the sentence you are now reading would have been typed letter by letter automatically by the computer, with me waiting -- waiting -- waiting -- until the moment I needed to insert the period. Then a cymbal would crash. "Crash!" And the next sentence would be automatically typed as well until the moment I could drum the next period. "Crash!" And this whole paragraph would be set to a soundtrack so that every time I typed a period and heard the crash it would be in rhythm with a catchy song. "Crash!"

If "Rhythm Tengoku Gold" were not a game but the process of driving to the movie theater, not only would a song play the entire journey, but every time you needed to turn on your blinker to signal a turn or lane change, the blinker's tick-tock would keep perfect time to the song. The road itself would have been designed to compel you to use the blinker only at those moments when the blinker best fit the music.

Does that help? I can be more specific…

"Rhythm Tengoku Gold," like its Japan-only "Rhythm Tengoku" is a rhythm game that requires the player to synchronize simple action with a soundtrack, in order to make basic and bizarre actions part of a soundtrack. I've described the game before as the equivalent of the effect created in many music videos in which a rapper's nod or a pop star's shake of the hand seems to trigger a key part of a song. In the first "RT" game, the player made a baseball player crack contact with fastballs to the undulating rhythms of a song. The player also plucked "whiskers" from an onion, manipulated the dance moves of Japanese singers and other varied activities.

In the new game, I've tapped and flicked the DS touch screen to make sure that, in proper rhythm, a beaker was caught, shake-shake shaken and tossed, caught shake-shake shaken and tossed. I've made sure a photographer standing next to a race track heard one zoooooom and snapped, heard zoom, zoom, zoom and snappedsnappedsnapped. And so on. All to a rhythm.

I've spent each of the last four days smiling to the mad rhythms and strange activities of this game. It's a hard game, requiring precise beats and movements. It's made harder still because I can't read the Japanese text that cues each action. But I've enjoyed it quite a lot anyway. "RTG" was not mentioned at Nintendo's E3 press conference, but it was at the company's booth. It's listed as TBA on Nintendo's press site. If any of that indicates the company is not 100% behind releasing it in America, then make your voice heard. Crash!

Next: "Siren: Blood Curse" is calling me back. And… "Braid."