It was safe to assume that the Switch would be a popular breeding ground for rhythm games. Given its portability and touchscreen functionality, iOS/Android rhythm games such as Deemo, Voez and the recently released Lost in Harmony have found a good home on the Switch. Lanota, at a very tempting budget price, is the latest to join them. But Lanota’s no slouch – look past its origins on mobile platforms and fairly mundane tracklist and you’ll find a remarkably solid, tactile rhythm game that no Switch owner should feel ashamed to have in their library.
Gameplay takes place on the face of a giant wheel (essentially acting as a Guitar Hero fretboard), where notes fall from the center of the wheel that must be tapped when they hit the outer edges of the circle. Interestingly enough, Lanota’s fretboard is very dynamic; the camera often pans across the perimeter of the wheel, and, as they’re wont to do, the wheel can spin – its vivaciousness determined by the energy of the music. The wheel could go from gently twirling to a love ballad to chaotically bouncing across the screen to a hardstyle jam with high enough BPM to concern the doctor of a sprightly Olympian. It’s a simple and effective way to complement the tone and feeling of any accompanying song.
Aside from tapping regular notes, there are notes that you must swipe up or down on, as well as blue notes you simply have to hold down your finger on to “catch”. While it may not sound like much to keep track of, it gets as hectic as the hardest rhythm games on higher difficulties. Luckily, notes are colour-coded so as to be identifiable in the heat of the moment – a particularly nice touch is the white highlight that adorns two notes you must tap simultaneously.
While I personally prefer the feedback afforded by controller-based rhythm games, Lanota’s touch controls work very nicely. In what I assume is a clever design choice, the game never explains to you how your hands should be positioned when playing. Through listening to the music and hitting the notes to the rhythm, your hands *naturally,* find it. Some songs call for a bit more improvisation – expect to twist and contort your hands about on some of the harder difficulties.
With over 70 songs, Lanota has a very healthy catalogue to choose from. While it is a strong selection of tracks, I can’t say there are any songs in Lanota that really sprung out at me, nor any that I would be inclined to listen to outside of the game. Despite that, there aren’t really any standout bad patches, either, and I consistently had a good time tapping away to the tunes on offer. While there’s a good variety of genres on the track list, hardcore fans in particular are in for a treat with additions by Massive New Krew and M-Project.
Difficulty-wise, Lanota runs the gambit from the very slow and tranquil to the utterly absurd. Another nice addition is the ability to choose between “TUNE” and “PURIFY” play modes; while in “PURIFY” mode you will fail the song if you miss too many notes, “TUNE” mode allows players to miss as many notes as they want without the song ending. Certainly a nice touch for players who aren’t up to the challenge and simply want to enjoy the music.
When completing songs on un-attempted difficulties, an incremental gauge fills up that will unlock new songs when completely filled. It’s a very simple progression, but it’s effective – I had tons of “one more song” moments whenever I would unlock a new track. There’s also a little bit of a story going on in the background that unlocks as you complete songs, but it isn’t much more than a brief distraction in the grand scheme of things.
I was really pleasantly surprised by Lanota. By no means is it the end-all-be-all of rhythm games, but its clever design and impressive amount of content make for a strong first showing from developer Noxy Games. If you’ve got a hankering for a rhythm game to play on your Switch, Lanota has more than enough to keep you busy for some time.
Jace is a lover of games experimental and strange. He is always chasing after wholly new experiences.