When it comes to rhythm games, it feels like it's all been done but Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party!!!! is here to liven up the genre.
Although Groove Coaster has been around since 2011 on mobile devices, Wai Wai Party!!!! actually marks its first console release. I've never played any games in the franchise but it has always intrigued me with its unconventional yet intuitive gameplay and by the fact that it's from Taito and I love Taito. Now that I played this wonderful iteration on Switch, I'm extremely impressed. For starters, the core gameplay reminds me a great deal of Taiko no Tatsujin as you merely tap either side of the controller or both simultaneously, hold or mash buttons during certain phases, and there are also times when you'll have to use specific directions as well as wiggle the sticks as if you're scratching a record. This may sound very simple and basic yet the core gameplay remains challenging and supremely satisfying.
What sets Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party!!!! apart from similar rhythm games is that your avatar moves across a line that may twist, turn, and loop without much notice which resembles a roller coaster. This aspect makes the gameplay feel far more exciting than linear rhythm games because you really have to concentrate in order to adapt to whichever phase the current stage shifts to. Although I mostly love this element a great deal, I found that some portions were exceptionally difficult to gauge such as when the track goes in and out of the screen. Whenever this happened, I tried my best to stick with the rhythm of the song but sometimes, you're expected to tap at odd beats which really threw me for a loop whenever the track was entering one of its tricky phases. Oh, and you can play with motion controls via holding 2 Joy Cons separately but that just didn't click with me so I stuck to using the buttons and sticks.
Thankfully, Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party!!!! is bursting with a fantastic selection of songs that range from J-pop to Vocaloid. You'll also come across songs featuring Hatsune Miku as well as remixes inspired by the Touhou games universe. Plus, there's a handful of Taito tunes from games such as Bubble Bobble, The Legend of Kage, and Dariusburst. In total, you get a whopping 71 songs right off the bat and there's an additional 29 unlockable songs to earn as well. If that's not enough, there are a few DLC packs currently available including Undertale. That being said, I wish the core game contained these add-on song packs because it is a full-priced game. You could always see them as extras to purchase whenever you exhaust what comes with the game which will probably take a very long time.
Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party!!!! can be played solo via individual tracks as well as challenge courses but there is local multiplayer, too. Primarily, you can play with up to 4 local players in a competitive setup and also link Switches via Local Matching mode in case you have friends who own a Switch and also love these kinds of games. However, there is no online multiplayer or rankings which is somewhat disappointing. On top of all this, there's a huge collection of unlockables to acquire via achievements known as Missions. Besides the unlockable songs, you can acquire avatars which change your in-game cursor, navigators complete with unique English voices, skins, titles, sound effects, and more. Needless to say, this is a ton of content and mastering everything will be a substantial challenge.
If you enjoy rhythm games or are simply curious about the genre then I highly recommend playing Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party!!!! From its amazing music to its challenging yet intuitive gameplay, it's a prime example of what the genre is capable of.
- + Simple and intuitive rhythm gameplay that can get extremely challenging
- + Incredible selection of songs
- + Great multiplayer and lots of unlockables
- - Some parts can be exceptionally difficult to gauge without a lot of practice
- - No online multiplayer or leaderboards
- - I wish all the DLC was included