Though it may be showing our age to say it, we remember the days when the Disney Channel actually seemed to show decent shows, rather than these strange teenaged soap operas. The latest of their hit-and-miss musical teenager shows, Violetta follows the 'musically gifted' Violetta, as she attends the prestigious music school 'Studio 21' - where, in typical Disney Channel style, she meets two guys who spend their time competing for her affections. Weirdly enough, the TV show is actually filmed in Spanish - as Violetta and co live in Buenos Aires - but it's been hilariously badly dubbed for English audiences. That's just one of the reasons the show's tie-in game, Violetta: Rhythm & Music feels strange - because all the songs on the cartridge are in their native Spanish.
Violetta: Rhythm & Music is a relatively bare-bones rhythm action game, in which you tap and swipe along to a selection of songs from the show. The game itself is split into three different elements - 'Pop Music', 'Quiz' and 'Performance' - each of which can be played across three different difficulties, although hard is pretty much unplayable, given the speed and amount of notes that appear. Choosing Career sees you play through the same song three times in a row (once in each mode), whilst Quick Play lets you drop in wherever you choose, provided you've unlocked the track in Career mode first. Although, unlocking them all shouldn't take too long, given there's only a measly seven songs to pick from in total.
In 'Pop Music', which is something of a play on words, you need to pop as many butterfly bubbles as you can, as they change colour from red to blue - the closer to blue they are, the more points you'll get, but they'll disappear if you leave it too late. On top of this, you also need to tap the musical notes and stars as they float down the screen, and avoid the broken hearts. Broken hearts dock points from your overall score - but so can any red butterfly bubbles you pop before they're ready.
Chaotic to say the least, on anything other than easy you'll likely end up stabbing at your 3DS in vain, as the notes fly past at such an incredible speed, it's nigh on impossible to hit enough to get any kind of score multiplier going. Notes also have a tendency to fly behind things you shouldn't be tapping, deducting points instead when you tap, and occasionally your taps don't seem to register at all (we suspect you need to click on the 'round' part of the note, rather than the stem) - all adding up to mild infuriation.
'Quiz' meanwhile does exactly what it says on the tin, and helps you relax a little bit in the wake of 'Pop Music', instead replacing your frustration with an overwhelming sense of 'I have no idea what I'm doing here'. Asking you to name the song, pick the next lyric and choose who sings the various songs, it can be more than a little bit challenging, given the abundance of Spanish involved in the first two question types, especially as UK viewers likely won't have come across the Spanish titles or lyrics before. Increasing difficulties simply increases the number of questions you get, and the quicker you answer questions, the higher your score will be.
The final mode, 'Performance' is the more familiar 'notes moving along the screen' format, akin to the likes of Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and, for the 3DS specifically,Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (all of which would be a much better investment than Violetta, by the way). Notes, stars and broken hearts all travel down a number of stave-like highways, and you simply need to slide the microphone symbol up and down between them, catching the notes as they reach the end. Again, this is easier said than done, especially on the harder difficulties, where the game likes to throw impossible-to-avoid broken hearts your way. Some sections even require you to slide up and down at a rate faster than the game seems capable of detecting, leading to loads of missed notes and docked points.
Sadly, Violetta: Rhythm & Music is a pretty poor rhythm action game that struggles to be competent. Fans of the series may get some enjoyment out of it, but even the novelty value won't last too long, because as soon as they try and choose a song, they'll discover all the tracks they thought they knew are now in a different language - with the romantic 'Give It All' being transformed into what sounds like an ode to soy. With unfair difficulty levels, illogical level design and dodgy detection, as well as the fact there's a scant seven songs to pick from, Violetta sadly gets old fast, and is unlikely to keep even the most die-hard Violetta fan occupied for long.