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Orgarhythm combines rhythm and strategy into one weird game


Pikmin 3 might have been the best-known crowd-control strategy game at E3, but it wasn't the most memorable. That distinction goes to Orgarhythm, a Vita game demonstrated to me during a meeting with publisher XSEED.

Orgarhythm mashes up two of the least mashuppable genres imaginable: rhythm game and strategy. Players control a giant, strutting god who follows a predetermined path through each level. The god has the ability to direct elemental troops, representing earth, water, and fire, to fight enemy troops who are also elemental, being sure to attack with the element that those enemies are weak against. Each element has multiple attack options, including melee, ranged, and even a catapult attack to affect enemies on a higher plane.

The twist is that you earn a bonus every time you issue a command (by tapping an icon) in time to the beat of the music. You have to very quickly learn to tap to open up the menu, then select element and style of attack in quick, successive beats, then swipe to direct your troops to a location, in order to succeed. Correctly tapping out "combos" in time levels up your character, increases the number of minions at your command, and adds elements to the background music.

What would be an extremely simplistic level of strategy (color matching, mostly) becomes much more complicated and interesting when part of your brain is keeping time. In fact, I played on the lowest difficulty setting, and still took long enough to get used to it that I wished the developers hadn't been watching me play.

The developer, Neilo (who is collaborating with Acquire for Orgarhythm), has rhythm game weirdness in its history. Studio president Tak Hirai worked on Space Channel 5 Part 2 as a technical director while at Sega, and then served as chief technical officer at Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q? Entertainment. Although even knowing Hirai's background, Orgarhythm is still a pretty odd concept. I would never have believed it could work had I not played the thing for myself. North American Vita owners will get to take it for a spin later in 2012.

Gallery: Orgarhythm (5/10/12) | 9 Photos

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