Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Rio (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Rio on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Rio is the latest computer animated film to make a challenge for Pixar’s crown, telling the story of Blu, a parrot unable to fly, who happens to be the last male member of his species. He is taken to Rio to meet with a female specimen, Jewel, to keep the bird from extinction...only for things to go awry and lead to an adventure befitting an animated film. THQ have taken a musical approach to the tie-in game - does it hit all the right notes?

Rio’s gameplay is a curious mix of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Maestro: Jump in Music. Blu constantly runs along, with players swiping up and down on the touch-screen to jump vertically between platforms to collect flowers, avoid hazards and move into the path of musical instrument icons that line the way ahead. Circles will shrink around the icons as you approach them, and when these borders fully enclose you must tap; where you tap on the screen does not matter, as long as you get the timing right. Each icon hit correctly will emit a note from the instrument depicted on it, building upon the Latin-style backing music. Miss a note and the lead instrument on the music will stop until you get your rhythm back.

As well as the instruments, sound effects provided by defeated enemies, knocked over obstacles and oncoming threats all impressively interlock together to form the greater musical piece, evolving to match how well you are performing. Should you not play to a sufficient standard, by missing too many notes, or bumping into too many obstacles, the level will need to be replayed. New gameplay elements, such as the ability to fly or control two characters simultaneously, are gradually introduced throughout play to keep things fresh while retaining this core structure. Each stage also includes one of two interludes to break up the action: a Simon Says-style dance-off with a rival, or a challenge to grab as many flowers as possible while jumping between a number of platforms.

Screenshot for Rio on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Though replays are a necessity if you want the best scores, there is no denying that Rio is a very short title, taking just two hours to complete if played constantly and without too many level failures. Four mini-games are included to extend the experience slightly: Monkey Madness has Blu and Jewel grabbing falling music notes while taking out monkeys with the chain that binds them, or by dancing together and spinning into them, resulting in the game’s best visuals as the monkeys slam into the screen face first. Running the Bulldog is a shallower take on the main game’s style, a run to grab as many birds as possible that lasts for as long as you can keep collecting time extensions. Then there’s a dancing game wherein you can watch an avatar jig around, with the option of putting your face atop it with the DSi camera, and an amusing virtual pet parrot that you can prod with the stylus and speak to through the microphone, only for it to repeat back your speech in a mildly hilarious bird voice. There is also a multi-card multiplayer mode, but only having one copy of the game it was not possible to test this for review.

If you’re looking to discover the story of Rio by playing the game, my advice would be to go and watch the film instead. Stills from the movie and text attempt to narrate proceedings between levels, but they largely come across as confusing; it’s followable, but it’s obvious that it has been condensed into as few screens as possible and is not told as clearly as it could have been. Though the story is not essential to enjoy Rio, the same confusing fate befalls tutorial screens as well, with vague still screens letting you know what to do. It’s fairly simply to figure out what to do once you’re in-level - every command is basically a swipe, tap, or hold on the touch-screen - but it is not the most user-friendly approach, particularly for the younger gamer.

Screenshot for Rio on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


An intriguing attempt at a children’s game; while it is not original, it stands out from the usual approach. The musical platforming idea works well, though the tutorials are not up to par.


Looks similar to licensed games from the Mega Drive days, with CG models converted to pixel form. Backdrops are fairly well detailed.


The music may not be the most memorable, but it fits the theme well, and the way it changes depending on your performance, plus the use of sound effects, is entertaining.


Only a few hours long at best. A few mini-games round out the package to add a little extra value. This has been released as a budget title, however.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


About this score

Rio is fun while it lasts, and takes a more considered approach to its subject matter than thrusting it into a standard platformer template. Unfortunately, it’s let down by a lack of content, only offering a few hours of play when all is said and done, and rather poor instructions and narration do not help. For the right price, though, Rio could be worth a play for fans of the film and / or musical games.

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C3 Score

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Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Interesting how MJ: The Experience, Disney's Stitch game, and this all use the Elite Beat Agents style, yet Nintendo still refuses to release EBA2 in the West... Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Only the way the circles close is Ouendan style really, far more Maestro.

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