Game Review: Maestro! Green Groove (DSiWare)

Maestro! Green Groove is a downloadable DSiWare title that combines 2-D platform jumping with music and rhythm gameplay. The story is told through charming cutscenes. When the talented music-making birds Maestro and Bella fall in love, the jealous spider Staccato cast a spell which removes music from the entire world! Now it’s up to Maestro to bring back the music and rescue Bella.

In the game, Maestro automatically runs forward, never stopping. As birds tend to do, Maestro balances on what looks like a telephone wire, but it’s actually a guitar string you can strum with the DS stylus. Strum down and he jumps, and strum up and he’ll fall down to a lower level. You must do this to collect items and goodies along the way.

As Maestro runs, there are places on the wire where you must strum in time with the music. And tap enemies at the right time in the beat to defeat them. Even the items you collect act as drum beats to the song. By doing all these actions correctly and in time with the beat, you’ll play the melody to a famous classical song! Reach a certain score grade to pass the song level and move onto the next. After every few levels, you’ll face off with Staccato the spider and try to repeat the drums and strums in rhythm. Do this correctly enough times to beat him.

While limited, the game has a pretty good tracklist with famous classical songs like Beethoven’s 5th. You know, the dum-dum-dum-dum song. Plus it’s a pretty creative game with multiple difficulties to challenge even the most seasoned music makers. You can also have fun messing around with Free Play mode and choose which instruments you want in each song.

There are only two main problems with Maestro! Green Groove. First is the controls. To jump, you move the stylus from up to down on the string. And to fall down below, you must swipe upwards. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it the other way around? Then an upward motion would make you go up, for instance. And in harder levels, there’s so much going on the screen that it can be hard to follow.

The other problem with the game is the length and limited tracklist. It almost feels like part of a bigger game. In fact, it really is only a part of a bigger title! Last year in Europe, this game was released in cartridge form under the name Maestro! Jump in Music, and had more than three times the number of songs and stages. I know that Green Groove is only a snippet and therefore reasonably priced at only 500 points (about five bucks). But honestly and personally, I would’ve rather paid full price for the whole game on a DS cartridge. Green Groove is still a pretty fun and creative mini-game if you like musical challenges with cute characters and fun storylines.

Kid Factor:

Maestro! Green Groove is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Comic Mischief and Animated Blood. I can understand the comic mischief since this is a silly cartoon game. But animated blood? Where? I didn’t see any. The ESRB Web site says that when you tap a spider, green goo splats out. But I didn’t even notice that, and even then, green goo isn’t blood! Reading skill is helpful for the text instructions, and younger players might get a little frustrated with the difficulty. The game could almost be considered educational as it teaches music rhythm and introduces kids to classical pieces in a fun way.

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