Thanks to Arc System Works for the review code
Title: Radio Hammer Station
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 07/28/2018
In this rhythmic adventure, you take control of a variety of DJs who must use the power of their hammer to stop a variety of wacky enemies from causing havoc, from perverts, living music notes, and more! …Yes, the plot here is just as absurd and stupid as I make it sound, and to be blunt, the stilted translation does it no favors either.
Radio Hammer Station is a rhythm game, and it goes with a rather odd presentation, one that I can’t really describe all that well. It kinda is a mix of a super deformed look, but with some aspects of gag comics to it? This game does get strange for sure, with increasingly bizarre backgrounds and enemies. Hell, the first enemies in the game damage you by flashing their clothes off. It definitely leads to a weird experience, and one that I wasn’t sure if I even liked all that much the further I got in with more characters unlocked dealing with their own weird sets of enemies.
Still, the main focus of a rhythm game, as I always note, is the music, and if a good OST exists, even a weird quirky game can have tons of charm to it! Sadly, the songs in Radio Hammer Station aren’t really that memorable. Sure, they’re pretty funky, and they have good rhythms that lead to the stages being pretty easy to get into playing, but as actual compositions I didn’t find any of the ones I encountered to be remotely close to noteworthy. Some of these are pretty short too, which seems to be why some stages consists of multiple songs back-to-back to make them seem kinda lengthy. Sadly, this was the weakest part of the game for me, and your mileage on the core game will ultimately depend on if you listen to the tracklist and find them enjoyable or not.
Radio Hammer Station is a very simple rhythm game: lines of enemies are coming at you, and you have to repel them with your hammer with a well timed button press: one row being done with the left side of the controller, and the other being done with the right side. Time it right, keep up a chain and rhythm, and clear each character’s set of episodes to make things right in this wacky world! Along with all the smashing, you’ll also have to keep an eye out for item boxes, which can be nabbed with a very quick button press, but sometimes they’ll put out a fake box that contains an unhelpful item, so there’s a bit of multitasking going on here.
Still, even after a gap in playing this game for review, I was pleased to find that getting used to the controls was a very quick period of time, and before long I was timing presses like a champ and moving through the stages, seeing what the game would throw at me in these weird episodes. Each story tasks you with controlling a different character, and they all have their own stories and weird incidents going on, but the core gameplay is consistent throughout all of them, attacking strange enemies to the beat of the song.
Likewise, upon clearing a stage, you can replay the songs you unlocked in a free play mode, which is just as it would seem. There’s even a random mode that gradually unlocks as you clear each protagonists’ stages, which randomly shuffles a bunch of songs in sequential order, leading to some very minor replay value, but with no online leaderboards, there’s not much reason to head back to a prior stage or song outside of getting a perfect chain or all three stars in each stage, or to test your skills on the alternate versions, which remixes the note layout. Otherwise, this game is pretty forgettable, if well controlling.
Upon digging Radio Hammer Station back up from the deeper parts of my review queue (and having to redo this review thanks to it being a big victim of the data crash from earlier), I quickly realize why I had shelved it to begin with: The core gameplay, while simple, is arguably simple to a fault, and the fact that a rhythm game like this lacks much in terms of memorable or even good songs really doesn’t help matters.
Really, the whole experience is just a big bucket of weird barely held together by decent rhythmic gameplay. The bizarre and outright stupid plots, the lackluster soundtrack, and incredibly thin experience really just led to Radio Hammer Station not being that great of a rhythm game outside of solid controls.
Maybe if you listen to the OST ahead of time and like it more than I did, this game will be more for you, but as it is for me, I much prefer the other Arc Rhythm game on Switch over this.
I give Radio Hammer Station a 5 out of 10.