Game That Tune

Rhythm Heaven

Love Is In The Air

The smooth R&B stylings of Rhythm Heaven put us in the mood for romance.

By Derrick Sanskrit • February 14, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

Pop music, nine times out of 10, is about love—whether it’s the pursuit of somebody to love, an exploration of love’s nuances, or post-breakup revenge fantasies, love is what the people want, and it sells. As one of the biggest pop producers in Japan, Tsunku knows this all too well. While a number of the tunes he’s composed for Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven series have been little more than catchy beats that accompany simple machines, animals, and sports, each of the three Heaven games has a number of songs that focus on that poppiest of emotions. None are as direct—or infectiously hip-shaking—as “Love Laboratory.”

As the first game in the series to be localized outside of Japan, a number of the songs with vocals had to be translated and re-recorded. Tsunku avoided that hassle here by keeping the vocals to simple whistles and hums. What ensues is a sweet jam of New Jack Swing-era R&B that would sit comfortably alongside Boyz II Men and Bell Biv DeVoe. The steady snare is grounding and familiar, while the bass synth has just enough funk to grab the listener’s interest. The swells, strings, and generic ’90s hip-hop sound effects keep the whole number at that perfect sense of timeless romance. The four-part harmonies are exciting but stay soft to maintain a sense of friendliness and—most importantly—intimacy, as the lead crooner reaches out to make a personal connection. It’s all about creating a warm, comfortable environment where we can lower our defenses and embrace love. We pick up on the patterns and we move in tandem with the song, simultaneously reactive and proactive. That’s chemistry.

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20 Responses to “Love Is In The Air”

  1. PaganPoet says:

    Well, that was kind of adorable.

  2. duwease says:

    But… what happened next????

    • PaganPoet says:

      Sexiness. The chemistry between them is undeniable.

    • Actually the fellow on the right, who’s mostly off-screen, had been trying to catch the attention of the green haired girl for the past two years unsuccessfully. He ended up standing outside her apartment in the rain holding a boombox playing some Peter Gabriel. Unfortunately he messed up the tapes and ended up playing “Sledgehammer.”

      • PaganPoet says:

        He seems to have bear ears…you can’t really blame her, she’s obviously a little creeped out by the furry community.

        • So if a guy in a bear suit stood outside your home reenacting John Cusack movies you’d be creeped out PaganPoet?

          There go my Valentine’s Day plans…

        • PaganPoet says:

          @facebook-579674289:disqus Well, if my choices are between a guy in a bear suit and a one-armed scientist with a wicked case of rosacea…you might be surprised by who I pick in the end.

  3. buzzard23

    The 5 W’s get me through the day: Weed, Whisky, & World Wide Web. The single life.

    • ComradePig says:

      I can’t decide whether it’s more depressing that a young person would use the phrase World Wide Web unironically or that someone over 50 would comment on Kotaku.

      • Girard says:

        I can’t decide whether or not it’s depressing that they omitted the sixth “W” activity that a solo celebrant of an amorous holiday might take part in…

      • PaganPoet says:

        A pet peeve of mine. I’ll let Melissa Robbins explain on my behalf:

  4. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    very nice.  now do ducktales already.

  5. Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

    Ooh, yes! I love the Rhythm Heaven games. I still play both of them (DS and Wii versions, because we didn’t get the original here in not-Japan) pretty regularly. Love Lab is one of my favorites, but I like the frog hop thing the best thank you, verrrrrry much.

    • Pandas_please says:

       This made me check it out on the old Amazon, and it’s going for incredibly cheap, like some new copies are selling for around four bucks. I might pick it up, it seems like some breezy fun.

    • The GBA game is still wonderfully playable and completely charming. There are only one or two games in it where you have to recognize the difference between the Japanese words for “left” and “right,” otherwise it’s entirely accessible. Plus it has a marvelous free drum mode that turns your GBA into a pretty damn good analog-style drum set. Its easily my most-played GBA cart, English or otherwise, and I had a lot of fun in 2007 recording songs that exclusively used the Rhythm Tengoku drums and M-06 (later localized as Jam Sessions) guitars.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        I’ve only played it a little biit in emulated form, but the sound was off just enough to totally ruin everything. I may have to look into getting an actual cart, assuming the GBA is region free. 

        Aaaand it’s like 50ish bucks. Can’t really justify that at all. Boooooo.

  6. beema says:

    Romance might be painful with those crab-claw genitals