Rhythm games seem to be making a surprising comeback in 2023. It’s only February and I’ve played two in the last week alone! For anyone reading this who didn’t grow up in the heyday of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, a game like Rhythm Sprout may be the perfect, wacky entry into the genre you’ve been looking for. It has fun with a ridiculous premise from the get-go and provides great bopping music with significant challenge and variety the more layers you peel back.
Rhythm Sprouthas an amazingly silly premise and the game wears it on its tracksuit sleeve. As the hero, you’re immediately thrust into the world as a music-loving, tracksuit-wearing, sword-wielding onion. As the silent protagonist, it’s the journey and characters around you that shape what’s happened and what’s to come.
King Brock (he’s a head of broccoli) needs you to rescue his daughter the princess (she’s cauliflower) as the sweets (giant, mean candies) take over the vegetable kingdom. It’s ok to laugh at this setup, the game does it too. One of my favourite aspects of Rhythm Sprout was just how much fun it has with its dialogue and presentation. There are meta-level video game jokes, puns about fruits and vegetables, and slapstick humour that had me giggling every few minutes. Along the way you meet countless characters that are just as wacky and just as fun as the premise itself, most times shedding a comical light on gaming and storytelling tropes.
Peeling Back The Onion Layers
Once you get over the chuckles of each of the story beats, the game gets rocking. Rhythm Sprout has you walking, jogging, and dancing your way through a level as pink, orange, and blue tiles travel to the beat of the catchy tune for that particular stage. The control scheme is delightfully simple, though that doesn’t stop the game from becoming very difficult after a couple of hours of play. The pink tiles correspond to any of the face buttons on the right of the controller, while the orange is for any of the four D-pad directions, and finally, you match up the blue tiles with the left or right bumpers.
I found the simple control scheme to be a great way to familiarize new players, providing the groundwork to master even the most difficult stages. On top of that, just being able to choose which of the buttons you want to use, really lets any player situate their hands in whatever way is most comfortable.
As you scroll through each stage, the music accompanies you along very bright and colourful areas that range from a beach to a winter wonderland, a gingerbread house, factories, and even an interdimensional portal or two! The tunes in Rhythm Sprout are great. At times it sounds like something you’ve never heard before, and at others, I heard a hint of Fall Guys, or even retro beat ’em up games. All of that worked for me, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the music.
Along some of the paths, you’ll also encounter enemies like lollipops, and gingerbread men, and some boss battles that crank the difficulty up to 11. Each one of these mini-game-like segments provides great variety and prevents Rhythm Sprout from becoming repetitive.
The initial difficulty ramp-up is fun but also felt quite harsh. The music changes (which is neat), but things feel like they escalate a little too quickly. While I still enjoyed my playthrough of RhythmSprout, by the time I was halfway through the story path, I was struggling to get through each level without replaying each stage 4-5 times and my hands cramping. I will add though, I know I’m not that “good” at these types of games, I was born in the ’80s, and my timing and coordination are not what they used to be.
Thankfully, there are some aids to help you along the way that act as difficulty settings. Additionally, there are bonus stages, a prologue to explore, and cosmetic unlockables along your path to saving the veggie kingdom.
Rhythm Sprout is a silly and wild game and it knows it. I love that it is unapologetically having goofy fun with its whole package. Whether it be the writing, the world-building, or the music itself. Don’t let the outside layer of this onion fool you though, this is a tough game. For anyone looking for a shorter, challenging, quirky, and solid music rhythm game, Rhythm Sprout is an easy recommendation.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]