Rhythm games aren’t dead. They’re not even ‘just sleeping.’ The genre is still out and about, and occasionally it gathers itself and dashes forward with the energy of a squirrel. Mad Acorn by APD Inc. is a good example of the odd places that music games still travel to, and it also demonstrates why it’d be a gosh darn shame if the genre went extinct.
Mad Acorn’s funky beats are delivered via the antics of the titular Mad Acorn, a squirrel with a failing detective agency. One particularly hungry day, Mad Acorn gets an anonymous request to take down a wanted criminal called Iron Man (not the one from the House of Stark, but a separate entity that looks like a flying scuba diver). Acorn takes the case, but discovering the identity of his employer and collecting his pay won’t be too easy.
London Bridge is rockin’ out.
Thus begins a run across four worlds (with more coming) to the accompaniment of thudding, beat-heavy music. Enemies and objects get in Acorn’s way, and disposing of them is as easy as tapping on the screen, though there’s one catch: you have to tap along to the game’s beat if you want Acorn to effectively kick, punch, and jump his way through each level. If you miss a beat, Acorn takes damage. If he’s hurt three times in a level, the game is over.
Mad Acorn is extremely easy to play, though staying with the beat in later levels gets challenging. The game is essentially a fun way to tap your toe along to music, and it is fun, thanks to colorful graphics, weird enemies, and some impressive backgrounds. The opening bridge stage is especially eye-catching once the sun begins to set. Occasionally, however, the backgrounds appear to mesh with the foreground, which can throw you off your beat.
But rhythm games are all about the music, and thankfully Mad Acorn shines in the audio department. You probably won’t hear anything immediately recognizable as far as licensed music goes, but the stuff on the menu is extremely catchy, nonetheless, and provides an interesting mix of disco and Europop. The lyrics behind each song are as shallow as a mud puddle, but it doesn’t matter: ‘Disco Train’ and ‘Turn it Up’ will cling to your brain regardless.
Mad Acorn is a must have for fans of more light-hearted and cartoony rhythm game fare, like Elite Beat Agents or the Rhythm Heaven titles. It’s not complicated (the ability to select difficulty levels would be nice), and it’s not very long, but you’ll have a head-bobbing blast anyway.