Elite Beat Agents (EBA) is pure rhythm-action fun for your DS. It is a game for everyone, offering difficulty levels and songs to cater for the core gamer, the seven year old kid - and even the seventy year old grandma.
The gist of the game is that you lead a trio of well-dressed men in black through a variety of societal scenarios. There are people and animals out there who find themselves in a myriad of tricky situations, and who’s gonna save them all by dancing to the beat of popular music ranging from Avril Lavigne to Good Charlotte? That’s right, you are.
The rhythm action occurs on the touch screen, while the top screen is used to display the comic-driven capers. The agents are presented as full 3D models that look very nice, with a wide range of excellent dancing animation routines to boot. The vivid static/dynamic images used to tell the story for each episode may be in stark contrast to the dancing agents, but the mix comes off better than you’d think.
Song selection can make or break a rhythm game; of the 19 songs featured, 50% do a good job, while the other half seem to have been lost in translation, so to speak. Most surprisingly, the oldies generally work better than the modern songs. However, there are still some great tracks such as “The Anthem”, “YMCA”, and “You’re the Inspiration” and I’m sure that there’s something here for everyone. The audio quality is pretty darn good too, and although we don’t have the original artists performing, the sound-alikes… sound alike!
DDR had you hopping about a dance mat, SingStar had you belting out songs on a microphone, Guitar Hero had you slamming on a replica peripheral, and EBA has you tapping, sliding and spinning with your stylus on a small touch screen. Markers appear on-screen and as rings around them slowly shrink to fit them, you will have to tap them to keep the rhythm going. As the music stirs up, so too do the patterns that you’ll have to mark out become hectic and truly all over the place. It doesn’t sound that exciting when I put it like this, does it?
But on the contrary; this is definitely a blast to play - full stop. Anyone can easily get into the groove of things with the easier settings guiding inexperienced players, and the more dexterous players challenged to the max on the Hard and Sweatin’ difficulties. The actions you perform may be simplistic, but that’s what makes it all the more fun. Once your skills are good enough, you will encounter some awesomely difficult and crazy routines. As I’ve already mentioned, the more you play this, the more you will WANT to play it.
In the end, I loved going through EBA the many times I did, and I’m sure if you’re any sort of rhythm-action fan, you’ll share the same sentiments. Even if you’re not, check it out anyway because you never know. Some songs have already been marked by me for abstinence, but for every dud there is one that you’ll always want to run through again and again, and again. EBA is quirky, original and very fulfilling. This is one of the finest DS games available yet.