Pinch me, I must be dreaming: rhythm games are kinda in right now.
Fortnite Festival has been blowing up, and I’ve been secretly very giddy seeing so many people on my timeline posting their combo and score achievements with pride. I’m a long-time lover of rhythm games, but also a rather judgemental one (sorry Fortnite Festival, I didn’t love you).
So when a little game called Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats and Bad Sweets landed in my inbox at the beginning of this year I was curious if not apprehensive. A tracksuit-donning onion who slashes up candies to all manner of original music. Sounded cute, I suppose. I went in not expecting a fat lot, if I’m being completely honest, but came out the other end adoring every second of what I’d played.
It’s a single-lane rhythm game, which makes it super approachable. There’s only three buttons to remember too, further reducing any sort of information overload while getting to grips with how things work. As someone with perpetual brain saturation, Rhythm Sprout’s stripped-back controls are welcome.
(Image credit: SURT Games)
Developer SURT gets nice and creative with so little, building increasingly complex note charts that require more dexterity and speed to hit than the easier difficulties. A lot of perfecting Rhythm Sprout comes from nailing accuracy in songs to achieve three stars and optimising the use of its score boost meter.
While you won’t be getting any pop bangers or licensed music in Rhythm Sprout, it’s chock full of genuinely neat original songs that span different genres: K-pop, EDM, hip-hop, rock and more. My personal favourite comes from a level where a ghostly head levitates above you while having a wee chortle, his bellows forming the baseline beat. There’s some more chilled-out songs to prance along to, and ones where guitars rip over rhythmic electronic bleep-bloops. It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix and I implore you to play the entire thing without finding at least one song you like.
If you’re an absolute rhythm wizard—like me, of course (I’m joking, I’m terrible)—and nail all of the songs in their original form, Rhythm Sprout also has the option to mix things up for some added challenge. Songs can be mirrored or randomised to different degrees to make things even more difficult. The total random setting is an absolute devil that should not be trifled with. You have been warned.
(Image credit: SURT Games)
All of this music and rhythm gaming is wrapped up in a very Overcooked-ass story. Part of that similarity certainly comes from the fact that everyone is a type of food, for whatever reason, but it has fairly similar humour running through its veins as well. Rhythm Sprout is incredibly goofy, occasionally cringe but mercifully self-aware of it. If you’re wanting to cut straight to the rhythm gaming I’m afraid you’ll have to play through this first. It’s a short story though, there just to piece together each level and provide some breathing room between songs, but it did get a good chuckle out of me at points.
It really is just a very endearing and quirky all round package. In a year where we received some proper lovely rhythm games—Hi-Fi Rush, Rytmos, DJMAX’s V Extension IV and V Extension 5 expansion packs, and a new Theatrhythm game for consoles, just to name a few—Rhythm Sprout really stood out to me as a brilliant example of how much you can do with this genre just with the fundamentals. It’s kind of like an aglio e olio, a simple dish that only uses three ingredients yet manages to express so much flavour and depth. Bonus: Rhythm Sprout won’t leave your breath stinking of garlic once you’re done either.