The rhythm genre has become quite a niche one ever since the fall of mainstream franchises such as Guitar Hero. So it falls predominantly on Japanese developers to keep the genre alive. One of these latest efforts comes in the form of EAT BEAT DEADSPIKE-san which is a spin-off of sorts of the BlazBlue franchise.

The BlazBlue franchise is widely known for its fighting mechanics and endless sequels. This time round each of the characters is instead used to be associated with a music track. The characters players use are also eating food items in the music track instead of beating each other up. The amount of calories increases as players correctly hit the button that corresponds to the on-screen prompt with the right timing.

Despite the fact that it’s only required to hit two buttons separately or simultaneously, it can still feel frustrating to get the hang of making use of the game mechanics. This also applies when making use of the touch screen to hit the buttons at the right time. This is even more apparent when being asked to alternate between hitting each button in quick succession.

One of the biggest gripes with making use of the control scheme is that the side buttons (“R” and “L”) being used don’t make it particularly easy to play a rhythm game. It’s necessary to really press down for it to register the action on the screen and it doesn’t feel as natural as using one of the typical buttons in the front of the controller. With the touch screen controls, it just comes down to how unnatural it feels to use them whilst trying to see what is happening on-screen. This is due to the fact that on-screen prompts scroll from right to left in the bottom side of the modestly sized screen.

Fortunately, the game makes it possible to also make use of the “right” and“left” buttons in the left Joy-Con or “Y” and “A” in the right Joy-Con to hit the on-screen prompts. Even so, it’s still quite difficult to make use of them because of how quickly the on-screen prompts scroll from right to left. Confusingly enough, the tutorial fails to let players know which buttons can be used, so some guess work is necessary to find out which ones are assigned to the on-screen prompts.

There is also a lack of direction in regards to how the game is played. For starters, every music track is unlocked from the start. It’s a decent amount of music tracks that should keep players busy for a while or at least those that are fans of BlazBlue. However, it soon becomes clear that most players will only find it amusing for a couple of hours. There are no modes to increase the likelihood of playing it for a long time, which is quite unusual given the many modes that are included in each BlazBlue entry.

The lack of any substantial mode is even more puzzling with the inclusion of the calories score for each music track. There isn’t even a leader-board for each song, let alone one that could be used to compare scores with other players online. The only other reasons to potentially keep playing, besides trying some music tracks, is to unlock every achievement in what is a pretty limited basic list and unlock the ability to play each music track in hard difficulty.

Not even the visuals manage to impress given the better quality of those found in the main Blazblue titles. If anything they look as average as the rest of the game. Whilst it’s rare to get the opportunity to play a rhythm game in recent times, it’s still very difficult to recommend a title like this one. It’s even more difficult when other rhythm games such as the excellent Superbeat XONiC are also available on the Nintendo Switch and not only contains a substantial amount of content, but are also fun to play and offer plenty of reasons to keep playing them. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of EAT BEAT DEADSPIKE-san and its baffling lack of effort to not only keep players entertained but to also give them a reason to keep playing it.