A shaky beat at best

Attention, rhythm game enthusiasts: Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper is not a straight port of Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s actually a title engineered specifically for mobile platforms, and it apes – curiously enough – the hit card/battle game Puzzle & Dragons.

[Audience groans in disappointment]

Yeah, it’s a bit of a bummer, but it’s not a washout. Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper is certainly interesting, and it has moments where it shines as brightly as a disco ball on Saturday night. Unfortunately, its disjointed pacing, frequent loading times, and panhandling for in-app purchases bust up its rhythm.

You play through The Paris Caper as Raphael, a young man who’s a shy Parisian student by day and the notorious art thief “Phantom R” by night. Though he lifts art, Phantom R is actually on the trail of his father who vanished several years prior without an explanation.

RHYTHM THIEF & the Paris Caper

The action in The Paris Caper is carried out via several mini-games peppered in between static story scenes. Most of the mini-games are based on reflexes or luck, requiring you to hit buttons quickly, pop as many balloons as possible, or stop a roulette on a treasure chest. The fun really begins when you play a rhythm game, which requires you to tap or swipe along to the music. Standard stuff for the genre, but catchy nonetheless.

The Paris Caper also offers you the chance to collect “accomplices,” which work like your party member cards in Puzzle & Dragons. Accomplices offer boosts to your hit points (which deplete when you mess up a rhythm game) and supply reward bonuses. You can also increase their stats or evolve them using items handed out as rewards for besting mini-games and rhythm sequences.

RHYTHM THIEF & the Paris Caper

The Paris Caper deserves credit for combining the card/battle formula with music instead of yet another passel of monsters. But its story, while intriguing, feels half-baked as a result. You pick up characters as accomplices, but you don’t get to learn much about them beyond the skills they offer. It’s like half of the game’s tale is behind a glass wall. Look, but don’t touch.

And while The Paris Caper does away with Puzzle & Dragons‘ detested stamina system, you’re still expected to dish out hard currency – “R Coins” – if you want a decent chance at rolling up the game’s best accomplices. That’s not a surprise for card/battle games, but it’s disappointing to see blatant money-grabs in a title with a high asking price.

RHYTHM THIEF & the Paris Caper

Finally, make sure you play the game next to a strong Wi-Fi signal. The whole shebang can only be enjoyed online, and the frequent loading breaks will remind you of this fact over and over.

Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper brings some cool ideas to the card/battle system, but ultimately Phantom R’s bold antics and swaying rhythm feels like a mediocre fit for the genre at best. Hopefully the game is just a warm-up for a real port of the original Nintendo 3DS game.