LifeIsXbox’s Rhythm Sprout Review | Rhythm Sprout is what you’d get if you mixed the enjoyable gameplay from a rhythm title and add the comedic impact of a Mario RPG game: A delightful first release by a small Norwegian team called SURT and published by TinyBuild.
When Rhythm Sprout first started sharing clips on Twitter, I knew that I would love it. When I got to play the demo in October last year, those expectations were confirmed and I started counting down the days to its release. What a wonderful indiegame and right up my rhythm-loving alley!
It’s a level-based game with bits of story before and after each song in which the king of vegetables sends an onion knight on a quest to defeat the rivalling candy king and rescue his daughter. Press the inputs to the rhythm of some chill beats and upswing tunes and slash your way to victory.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Easy to grasp gameplay | Pink notes = face buttons, Yellow notes = any of the D-pad buttons, Blue note: bumper buttons. It’s really that simple and that’s all there is to it. It’s easy to understand, but you’ll still need to master the rhythm to get through the game.
- Original LoFi & EDM soundtrack| One of the most important elements of a rhythm game is a nice selection of music to jam to and the tracklist here is pretty great. While I didn’t like all songs equally, it’s already amazing that more than half managed to make me hum them throughout my workday after playing some quick levels in the morning. Between the main story, a short prequel and some bonus levels, you’ll have 30 tracks in total to time your beats to.
- Sugar Rush | One thing that often saved my life was the once-per-level option to activate Rush mode and make ALL notes the same, allowing you to press any button for a perfect hit. It even restores you to full health. Definitely a great element and vital for people who are bad at rhythm games like myself. Don’t waste it, though, timing the Rush just right will have a huge impact on your final score.
- Mario RPG-like humour | I’m a huge fan of the way the story is presented through brief chats with quirky characters that look and sound like they ran away from a Mario RPG/Paper Mario game. It’s never to the point where I laughed out loud, but the Mario games also never succeeded in that, yet it was silly enough to consistently put a smile on my face.
- The actual story | Just like in the Mario games it tries to mimic, the story is fairly superficial. Beat the bad guy, get the princess, and then a plot twist that can hardly be called one these days. But it’s a rhythm game, I’m not expecting a novel or a narrative that will keep me on the edge of my seat. For people that really don’t like this, there is a skip scene button and you won’t even have to use it again when replaying a level as the game is smart enough to know that you don’t want to watch scenes twice. (but if you do want to, you can rewatch them from the level select menu)
- Modifiers | To change things up for those who’ve mastered the songs, you can try replaying them with modifiers like increased speed, mirrored notes or randomized notes. It’s a nice inclusion for the die-hard fans to give even more longevity to the title, but I tried the different modes, and they didn’t add any enjoyment for me personally.
- Costumes & weapons | By performing well and earning stars, you unlock new outfits and weapons to equip our jammin’ sprout with, you can even find some other TinyBuild IP items like a mask or shovel from Hello Neighbour. Sadly, most of the outfits are just colour swaps. A nice addition and the game is better for having it, but could have been better with even more variety.
What we Disliked
- The beginner difficulty | Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love having an easy mode and it’s a necessity because I wouldn’t have been able to beat the game without it. It’s just the way Rhythm Sprout solves the issue: instead of having fewer notes to hit and thus making it easier to hit them all, it gives you a larger health bar and makes any button input acceptable. The problem is some songs having so many quick succession notes, that I fail a lot of inputs despite mashing the buttons like crazy. In all fairness, I asked Jim (who was also testing the game) and he didn’t struggle at all, so this seems more of a personal, physical limitation for me.
- Too hard | I was able to beat all levels in the game, but because of the aforementioned rapid inputs, it was usually with a lot of missed notes. I tend to replay rhythm game levels over and over in an attempt to beat each level without dropping a beat but it was clear to me early on that there is a physical limitation to my abilities and that rhythm sprout would forever remain uncompleted because of it. There are just some sequences where it seemed impossible to me to get everything right. I feel like Rhythm Sprout would have been more enjoyable overall if it took the base difficulty down a peg.
How long to beat the story | You can see the credits roll in ~1.5h
How long to achieve 1000G | Mastery of the full game will take some skill, so let’s average it at ~6-8 hours?
You’ll love this game if you like these | Taiko no Tatsujin is the closest to this in gameplay, but if you’re a fan of Mario RPGs, you’ll also appreciate the attempts at humour in Rhythm Sprout.
Want to see Rhythm Sprout gameplay? We’ve got you covered!
Rhythm Sprout is a quirky and charming little rhythm game that manages to hit all the right notes, but could have been more enjoyable with a more forgiving difficulty curve.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.