Geek Revolt

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure Review

July has been the month of rhythm games for the 3DS. First Square-Enix released the horribly titled Theatrhythm, and then SEGA finally brought Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure stateside. I won’t compare the two games, though. They both appeal to different niches, so a comparison would be pointless. I digress; it’s time to review Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure.

The Story – Raphael is the infamous thief known as Phantom R. He takes famous works of art and then returns them without explanation. One-day he’s hurled into an ancient conspiracy that threatens to forever change Paris.

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Title: Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure
Genre: Music/Adventure
Developer: SEGA
Platform: 3DS
Price: $39.99
ESRB: E-10+
Release Date: 7/10/12[/toggle_box]


  • Moves Like Jackson – Phantom R is bad, you could call him a smooth criminal. The Michael Jackson influence is blatantly obvious, but this didn’t bother me. It only made Phantom R more of a badass.
  • Gameplay Variety – You won’t be forced to play the same three rhythm games a thousand times. There’s tons of variety here, and while not all the games are homeruns, most will leave you feeling like a rhythm king. The games use the touchscreen, buttons, and accelerometer.
  • Story – The story will keep you going. It’s easily the best part of the game. It has enough twist and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
  • Anime Cutscenes – The cutscenes are wonderfully animated, and you should watch them in 3D.
  • Characters – The cast is filled with memorable characters. Phantom R and Maria are easily my favorites, but the supporting cast and random characters are also worth caring about.
  • Items – If you’re having a hard time with a mini-game you can buy an item to make things easier on yourself.


  • Borrows Too Much From Layton – Level 5 must feel extremely flattered because this game shamelessly rips-off the Professor Layton series. Seriously, from the point and click nature all the way down to the cutscenes. Phantom R is just a younger and cooler version of Layton.
  • Unnecessary Roughness – If you bought an item and you still couldn’t beat a mini game you have two options – retry or quit. Eventually you’ll start to run out of coins and even if you choose not to save after losing, you still lose your coins. This makes zero sense, why do you lose coins even when you don’t save? This is cruel — an unnecessary punishment for players having a hard time. Plus this will lead to some players getting stuck, later mini-games felt impossible without items.


  • No Difficulty Levels – I can’t remember the last time I wanted to smash my 3DS into a million pieces. The last two chapters of Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure were beyond frustrating (some beats felt impossible to catch). Especially since I had run out of coins. And thanks to the strange quirk I mentioned above – I couldn’t even reload a save and use my old coins to buy items. This game desperately needs difficulty levels (outside of the star ratings for each mini-game).
  • Forgettable Soundtrack – Music games are supposed to have a killer soundtrack, but outside of the main theme and “Moon Princess”– none of Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure’s music sticks out.


Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure is on the cusp of greatness, but thanks to a few strange design choices and a lack of originality it falls short of that milestone. But don’t let that discourage you, if you love rhythm games and the Professor Layton series this is a must buy. Casual fans of both genres may want to pass on this, though. The difficulty of the later stages will frustrate gamers who just want to get their groove on while enjoying the game’s intriguing plot.

[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here.[/box_light]

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Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 8
Story: 8
Sound: 7
Replay Value: 7
Overall: 7.5

Very Good – This game flirts with greatness, but ultimately falls short. Still it’s highly entertaining and worth a look.[/toggle_box]

I'm DeShaun Zollicoffer, and I approve this message/bio. "28-years-old, Proud Northeast Ohioan, a Gamer Without Loyalties, an Equal Opportunity Offender, Apple Evangelist, Apple Hater, Music Lover, Anime Junkie, Little Monster, Frequent Flyer, Dexter Fanatic, Title Case Addict, and Geek Revolt's Founder and Editorial Director."