REVIEW: ‘Rhythm Sprout’ Struggles With It’s Game Balancing (XSX)

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rhythm Sprout — But Why Tho

You are the Chosen Onion, Sprout, summoned by King Brock to save the Vegetable Kingdom and his daughter Princess Cauliflower from the machinations of the evil King Sugar Daddy and his army of chocolate bars, cupcakes, and other assorted snack-based minions. To succeed in your quest, you will have to guide Sprout through rhythm-based challenges that see the hero dodge, attack, and groove his way across the land in Rhythm Sprout from Developer SURT and Publisher Tiny Build.

As someone with little rhythm game experience outside of pure rhythm experiences like Guitar Hero and Just Dance, Rhythm Sprout delivered a unique concept for me. Using the now familiar cascading icons to time my way through fights and across levels. However, this approach to using the button presses as a means to an end, instead of the end itself, creates a bit of a weird experience.

Throughout the game, the player will see four different icons pass across their screen prompting them with what to do. A purple one, which means press any of the face buttons, a yellow one, which means press any direction on the directional pad, a blue one that means push one of the bumpers, or a black one, which is a trap and must not be pressed as it passes by.

The player has a health bar that goes down when they take damage from attacks or other threats posed by the blue buttons. If the player times their press correctly, Sprout will dodge the threat. The other two buttons, purple and yellow, are used for moving and attacking with Sprout. Because the objective of each level is to reach the end, ultimately the only buttons you need to worry about hitting with any real accuracy are the blue ones.

Anything else can be missed and it only slows your progress down, it will never stop you. This creates a strange situation where I would simply ignore other button prompts when I saw a blue one coming since I couldn’t afford to mess that one up. This approach almost feels encouraged since missing a button press completely will cause Sprout to be momentarily stunned, forcing you to miss the blue button if the timing is bad enough.

On the one hand, this design style makes it easier for those who can’t keep up to have a shot at getting through the game, even in normal mode. But at the same time, it also cheapens the experience all around. I soon found myself rarely pushing the yellow buttons at all, as the timing of them with the purples where extremely tight later in the game, and I managed to get fine results. In fact, the only time you need to worry about racking up hit streaks is if you are chasing high scores, or need healing. Getting a 20-hit streak heals a point of damage, so there is some motivation there.

If winning a level isn’t enough for you, this system is fine. But as someone who has never been a score chaser, this simply created extended periods of the game where I was simply pressing one button over and over again to get through stretches without too great a challenge.

Even taking this more lax approach to the game’s input prompts doesn’t remove all the challenges from Rhythm Sprout. It took me roughly five hours to get through the game’s main story, and I still found myself having to repeat levels, eventually even needing to turn on Beginner Mode to get me through some of the game’s most challenging moments. But while this mode proved helpful, I wish the devs at SURT had made it a touch more adaptable.

When you turn on Beginner Mode, you gain increased maximum health, the beats become simplified, and instead of yellow and purple buttons, you just have a split color button that can be fulfilled by pressing any of the buttons you’d press for either. With this many advantages, the game went from challenging to a cakewalk. Even late in the game, I didn’t feel like I needed this much help. If the game had let me choose more health or just one button prompt, it would’ve given me more ability to scale the controls to what would give me a boost while still challenging me. While the mode does help a new player through its challenges, it creates a huge rift between normal and beginner that would prove difficult to cross.

rhythm Sprout — But Why Tho

If you are a veteran player who loves chasing scores and flexing your rhythm-based skills, Rhythm Sprout offers quite a bit. Beyond the challenging final levels, with each stage completion, players unlock new ways to play the game. Each level can be played with a choice of Turbo, Mirror, or Randomizer modes to give players even more value for their $15. On top of this, bonus levels and a prologue story can also be unlocked, if you score enough ratings through the main story.

As the term “Main Story” implies, Rhythm Sprout does have a narrative as to why Sprout is journeying across the land. This story is not good. While it tries its best to be humorous, the vast majority of the time it’s simply obnoxious. At its best, it provides an occasional chuckle, but even those are few and far between. The only aspect of the world and characters that land well is the visual design. Everything in Rhythm Sprout is bright, fun, and feels lifted straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon.

I think there is a certain rhythm game fan that can have a lot of fun challenging this game for high scores. However, for anyone more casual, the way Rhythm Sproat presents its challenges will never feel quite right, either out of your reach or doing far too much to hold your hand.

Rhythm Sprout is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S/X, and PlayStation 5.

Rhythm Sprout
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10


I think there is a certain rhythm game fan that can have a lot of fun challenging this game for high scores. However, for anyone more casual, the way Rhythm Sproat presents its challenges will never feel quite right, either out of your reach or doing far too much to hold your hand.

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