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Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure Review: Mini-games with a Napoleon complex

Inspired by Layton, but marches to the beat of its own drum

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Do the French have rhythm? Johnny Hallyday and Celine Dion suggest a firm 'non', but the Rhythm Thief begs to differ.

By day he's a mild-mannered boy named Raphael who lives in a cluttered Parisian apartment with his dog Fondue. By night, he's a smooth criminal who moonwalks his way into police stations, art galleries and opera houses and takes whatever he fancies.

There is, however, an innocent reason behind his actions: he's searching for clues on the whereabouts of his missing father. Nonetheless, his kleptomanic antics soon draw the ire of the entire Paris police force. Fortunately for our boy, they're as competent at policing as we are at prising open the bags at the supermarket self-service till.

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As the story thunders on, further mysteries come to light, none of them bigger than how 18th Century warmonger Napoleon Bonaparte has seemingly risen from the dead, and why he's making it his (after)life's work to get in Raphael's way. All this sets the scene for an adventure that's a halfway house between Professor Layton and a rhythm-action game.

Dans la rue

As with Layton, you navigate through Paris via a series of interconnected single screens. On each, you can poke around its nooks and crannies for Picarats (sorry, medals), or for sounds to record and play back later on.

This opens la porte for all kinds of plot-advancing mischief. For example, while Fondue's limp woof won't be enough to displace a nervous guard, a bulldog's snarl, bottled in a nearby park, will do just the trick. Other sounds appear to have no immediate use, but when you start chatting to the locals you realise that there's a whole city out there full of people whose lives literally can't continue until they hear a certain noise.

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There's this one lady who's hacked off with her screaming sprog, for example. Soothing her banshee-baby is as simple as playing it a rattle noise, captured from a nearby rattlesnake. Solving riddles opens up further pathways on the map, featuring yet more distressed denizens.

It's a cool twist on what are essentially point 'n' click puzzles, but it would have been better if the game didn't treat you like a goon who can't even get dressed in the morning. In the above example, the word 'rattle' is mentioned explicitly about nine million times.

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