You might have heard of Rhythm Thief by way of Rhythm Thief and The Emperor’s Treasure for the Nintendo 3DS. If you have, and were in fact a fan of that game, then you might be disappointed to learn that despite having a different title, this is not a sequel to that game.
Perhaps the different nomenclature is warranted, however, seeing as this is not a straight port. The story of young Raphael, AKA the notorious Phantom R, is very much the same as he emerges at night to steal valuable treasures from some of the finest museums in Paris, all in the name of figuring out clues to his father’s disappearance. The game’s tale picks up just as things take a turn for the strange in Raph’s escapades, but is an overall condensed, simplified, or otherwise abridged version of the tale told on Nintendo’s handheld. Those looking for new adventure need not apply.
However, those looking for a newer gameplay experience might be more interested, as new mini-games and mini-mini-games (minier-games?) provide the main draw for the iOS version. You’ll follow the simplified story along various linear chapters represented by a game board covered with various spots: Some provide you with currency, others treasure or accomplices, more with chances to win various items, and still others with the main draw: The rhythm-based mini-games.
To be frank, I suck at rhythm-based games, but with some encouragement, I gave this version a try and found myself pleasantly surprised. Most games of the sort are largely pass/fail in their execution, but The Paris Caper’s use of accomplices (which you can not only find within the game, but also bring along guests met online, who you can befriend later) provides a number of buffers and defenses, ranging from affecting times to “damage” you receive, adding “hit points” (which allow you more opportunities to miss without failing), and even some benefits that are only active on certain days of the week. Furthermore, the items you find can be used to “blend” with accomplices to raise their levels, making them even more useful.
Put simply, this is a rhythm game where if you’re having trouble, you can grind to help you proceed.
The rhythm games come in different forms and challenges, each more difficult than the last, and some iffier than others. I can get down on the dance floor with no problem and do all right with punching out baddies to the beat, but trying to use the cues for the museum stealth sections is nigh-useless; you have four colors (representing poses to use to evade detection), and only the briefest instance to properly hit the right one. It’s doable, but harrowing.
One issue taken with these portions, however, are the “Perfect” scores. It’s great when you rack up a bunch, but they apparently come in two types during the end-of-level scoring: white and golden. Problem is, they tend to show up as gold during gameplay regardless, so you can’t tell if you’re being perfect enough, or could still be more perfect before it’s done.
The game has great music and charming characters, particularly Phantom R himself, a sort of Lupin-esque thief with so much style and charisma that it’s difficult not to want to cheer him on. The controls are nice and responsive, too, and there are plenty of customization options you can build on to help yourself through.
On the downside, the game’s requirement of a stable Internet connection to play seems superfluous. While I can see where it is useful (i.e. downloading guest accomplices), there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it to be mandatory. Additionally, you’ll want to be careful about how many of the game’s hard currency “R Coins” you spend on auditions for new accomplices and the like; while you can earn them in-game, you’ll also need them to unlock the final chapters– something you really don’t get much forewarning about.
Those issues aside, there’s still a fun time to be had here, and even if you’re a bit hesitant about rhythm-based games, it’s worth a try. Phantom R and his friends will do their best to see you through.