Not a Hero of any kind.
Guitar Hero is an incredibly fun game. Even though I'm practically tone deaf when it comes to music, I managed to etch out plenty of enjoyment out of the first two installments of that franchise. Unfortunately, Rhythm Zone is basically a defective copy of Guitar Hero that strips most of the features from that game.
[image1]Like the game whose name shall not be repeated once more, Rhythm Zone presents a note chart that constantly throws colored icons that need to be matched in rhythm. Unlike its inspiration, though, Rhythm Zone just feels lifeless. The charts in this game don't really synch in with the music being played, and playing the notes doesn't really feel like playing music since there's no strumming. You just press buttons. This is even more evident if you use Rhythm Zone's most noteworthy feature - custom music importing.
Yeah, you can import your own tunes into Rhythm Zone. If you wanted to do the same for the other franchise, you'd have to do a bit of tinkering and hacking, but here, it's just a matter of having some .mp3, .wma, or .wav files on your hard drive. Unfortunately, the note chart doesn't match the actual melody of the song. For instance, I imported the complex theme from Miyazaki's Porco Rosso into the game and for huge sections of the song I only had to hold a single note for one continuous streak.
With that issue in mind, I tried switching the difficulty setting around and, to my surprise, it didn't really matter. The long, extended sections with one note remained, for a lot of imported songs. Even for trickier parts filled with more complex note combos, the difficulty setting seemed trivial.
[image2]Score leaderboards are always a huge part of Guitar Hero and are still a core part of Rhythm Zone. You can send your best scores to an online board and even challenge your Steam friends who own the game to a particular song. Sadly, the possibility of importing music breaks the scoring system to the point of being completely exploitable, depending on the song imported and how its note chart is constructed by the game. Those aforementioned single-note sections only add to your score and if a song matches that pattern and only gets single notes, your score will naturally climb up the boards.
Presentation and feature-wise, Rhythm Zone is pretty bare. There are only two modes: playlist and quick play. In playlist, you can pick from pre-constructed song lists and add your own songs into the game in order to play it once. The interface for managing songs is pretty unfriendly and ugly, and my game froze more than once when I was managing my tunes.
The pre-loaded song list doesn't make sense, either. You can't play them, because they don't come with the game, so why are they listed in the first place? In order to benefit from the playlist feature, I had to spend quite a while in the music menu individually downloading songs.
[image3]In case you have any previous history with epilepsy and you're still intrigued about the game, do your best to avoid it. It's super colorful, sure, but the backgrounds during songs are absurdly distracting and headache-inducing, as shapes and patterns fly out behind the note chart. You can mercifully tone this down somehow by thumbing down the graphics setting, so it's highly recommended.
Purists might turn their head from Rhythm Zone even more since it doesn't really benefit with any substantial alternative controller support. Even though you can possibly hook a PC-compatible guitar controller and play, the lack of strum support and the fact that the game very rarely feels like playing actual music just negates the point.
Honestly, I didn't really have a lot of expectations coming into Rhythm Zone. That wasn't because I'm not really a music lover, but due to how lazy the game looked at first glance, and it's something that remained with me throughout the entire thing. There are better alternatives out there for customized music experiences. Rhythm Zone just misses the tune so bad. Even the name is misleading; there's hardly any rhythm to be found.