Maestro: Green Groove (Nintendo DS) Review

By Shane Jury 28.07.2010

Review for Maestro: Green Groove on Nintendo DS

Every generation or two, a certain type of videogame becomes the dominant genre. In Nintendo's heyday of the NES and SNES, it was the platformer, and during Sony's assent with the heights of PlayStation RPGs reigned supreme. In recent years, the number one shelf-filler has been of the first person shooter variety but, surprisingly, a close second is the music genre, be that in the form of party-based sing-a-longs or peripheral-assisted play-a-longs. Developer Pastagames has attempted to blend old and new staples of musical videogaming with rhythm/platformer hybrid Maestro: Green Groove on DSiWare. Does it hit the right note, or is this groove out of tune?

The first thing to be made aware of is that, like many of DSiWare's downloads, Green Groove is a digest edition of a full retail game, Maestro: Jump in Music. As such, it contains only the first world, named in the download's title. Thankfully the price reflects this, as it is only 500 Nintendo Points and, for a mere taster, the result is extremely good.

Green Grove tells the tale of Presto, a talented purple bird musician that one day attracts the attention of a female bird called Bella, and subsequently charms her with his blend of stylish strumming. After failing to get the attention of the same lady, Presto's rival, a spider called Stacatto, goes off on one, and takes his revenge by magically silencing all musical notes in the world. Thus begins Presto's quest to make his tunes heard again.

Screenshot for Maestro: Green Groove on Nintendo DS

If Maestro was likened to any other DS game, you would probably choose Yoshi: Touch & Go. They’re similar not only in that they each feel part of something bigger, but in that both utilise the touch-screen and microphone in unique ways, and that the movement of Yoshi and Presto is automatic, allowing the player to focus elsewhere.

For each of Maestro's levels, you're tasked with strumming along strings that line the path Presto is automatically following, and through this you can influence his movements; a top-to-bottom slash on a string makes the little dude jump, and the reverse lets him drop down onto a path below. Doing such helps him collect fruit and rescue other small birds as he progresses, both of which are vital in determining your overall grade and whether you can move onto the next stage or not. This all sounds reminiscent of a 'My First Platformer' situation, and to be fair, it starts off that way; the only major thing you have to worry about to begin with is the timing of the string strumming.

Screenshot for Maestro: Green Groove on Nintendo DS

Later stages however, will push your rhythm recognition and reaction speed to the limit. Consider that not only will you have strumming to contend with (that repeatedly increases in speed and frequency over the course of a level), but also arachnid enemies to dispatch with a tap, pitfalls to leap, and your little feathered friends to keep out of harms way. In short, once the levels get going, they really get going. Not to say that stage structure is in any way random or unfair; strumming and tapping requirements always play along to the backing beat of whichever piece is playing, so there is a firmly set structure to follow and memorise, albeit an immensely challenging one. Aside from the optional use for the microphone to sing along and boost up your score, and a few menus, the entire game is touch-orientated, and is easily one of the best rhythm games to make use of the screen. Not having direct control over your main character, or missing that vital string to carry on a chain, never feels cheap or unfair, and Green Groove contains that certain special ingredient that so many short games need, but many unfortunately lack; the one-more-go factor, that tempts you to come back to aim for a perfect run or a higher score, even after beating the Simon-Says boss levels. The game can be brutal, but very addictive, and it’s a delight to control.

Being that Maestro's main hook is music, any player would expect a rocking score to accompany this game, and they would not be disappointed with the result. Outside of the main levels are the original tracks; bright, upbeat, and catchy, but inside the stages are where the real interesting pieces lie. Green Groove makes use of classical music that should ring a bell with anyone who hears it; Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or Opus 9 from Chopin, for instance. They are few in number, and reused in later, more difficult levels, but these pieces have been implemented beautifully, and you'll never tire of them, regardless of how many times you may need to aim for a higher grade on a particular stage.

Screenshot for Maestro: Green Groove on Nintendo DS

Not only is the soundtrack of Maestro a highlight, but so is the writing for the game overall. The plot is told through inventive comic-style cutscenes, and the witty and informative paragraphs that accompany them via the brief loading screens show just how much heart and soul was put into this product.

Of course, we have to address an inevitability for a short taster such as this one: lifespan. This honestly depends upon your own gaming ability; if you're a master of musical titles like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, finding that sweet spot of rhythm and timing won't be too much hassle. If not, then Maestro will more than likely hand you defeat on a silver platter more than once. Even with that challenge in mind however, there is no disguising Green Grooves' unfortunate lack of content in all aspects, from track availability to world length, a problem somewhat remedied by the low fee, but blistered more by an even cheaper price point on the iTunes store.

Treat Green Groove like a preview of sorts, and you'll certainly want to come back for more; on the strength of this download, Maestro: Jump in Music has been criminally overlooked.

Screenshot for Maestro: Green Groove on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

An excellent introduction to an overlooked DS retail game, Maestro: Green Groove provides that addictive and unique experience that small cheap downloads often manage so well, and highlights another gem in the dual-screened wonder's library.

Developer

Pastagames

Publisher

Neko

Genre

Rhythm

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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