The Puzzle genre is broad. There isn’t really any other way to describe it. Puzzles range from games like “Threes” which you match together numbers that are divisible by three to get points. Candy Crush Saga asks you to match different objects to then claim points. Tetris which is the progenitor of puzzle games wants you to make lines with shapes to score points. But Akihabara takes the common tropes of the puzzle genre and tries something new and interesting.
Akihabara – Feel the Rhythm is not the run of the mill puzzle game. The whole game is influenced by the Akihabara district in Tokyo where the game gets its name. The District is known as the holy land of nerd culture, as you can get nearly anything from any franchise from there and at the same time it promotes its own living culture from the sights and sounds of the people who live and work there. The game takes that and translates that to an original soundtrack made up of EDM and Electro style music and then pumps all that energy into the puzzle and try to make you feel like you are there. It’s rare to see a hybrid of two genres coming together and being very original. A whole album of songs to follow the game is refreshing in this current industry climate. The puzzles the player is trying to solve are a mix of Tetris and Candy Crush where a line of different shapes comes down from the top and will fill a grid. The Player must switch the shapes around to match three/four or five of the same, score points and then clear the board. But the key is to do it switching in time with the music. If you time the change on the beat correctly, then you get a score multiplier and obviously, your score will blow up.
Puzzle games like this are difficult to write a huge amount about because they aren’t designed to be played hours on end or have mechanics that are added later so everything is laid out at the start. What’s laid out here are a lot of mechanics you have to learn when you start playing. Tetris in a sense is a survival game as well as a puzzle game, as you are trying to last as long as possible to get a really high score to brag about later. Akihabara is similar as you are trying to survive the song and get a huge amount of points, but throw on the song and the different shapes that you need to change in time with the music and you’ve now got a lot to deal with.
The song, the shapes and how much is on screen come together in an exciting way that most puzzle fans would jump straight on to. The challenge of trying to not fall into the beat of the song, keeping an eye on your grid and trying to clear a level is something that would cater to people’s tastes quite well however that isn’t really something I can adapt to. My experience with playing the game was trying to run through its campaign mode in which you go through every song on the soundtrack and when it got to the third song I had to stop because I kept failing and my score was terrible. It’s not the game’s fault I struggled, if anything that plays to the games credit and shows that this is a challenge for the right people.
The term sensory overload is what I associate with my experience with the game. I failed the challenge of managing everything at once. I got into the song and then my score suffered because I was on beat and not paying attention to the grid or it was the other way around and that is more my fault with the game. If you play Dance, Dance Revolution you are dancing on the beat but I’m terrible at that game and that really shows here. To me, what I was seeing and hearing weren’t really making the connection without one side suffering. If I was someone who was really into rhythm games or really into puzzle games, then this game would meet my taste and give me a true challenge.
AKIHABARA was review on PC Via the Steam Platform