Japan has given us an array of wonderful music games. Some are big budget titles, like Hatsune Miku: Project Diva, Taiko no Tatsujin, Dance Dance Revolution and Donkey Konga have all provided toe-tapping entertainment over the years. But we have also seen a number of smaller games like Voez and Love Live! School Idol Festival. Then, there are the exceptionally small games that slip under the radar, but still offer something special to those who notice them. Wonder Parade is one of those games.
Wonder Parade is an indie mobile game from Studio Quare. Players follow a puppy conductor and his marching band as they march and play their way through an array of songs. People bang the drum by tapping or holding the left and right sides of the screens as indicators move along the semicircular path. Success means earning new difficulty levels for the song you just played (there are three total) or unlocking additional tracks to play. The developer even continually adds new songs for free, with an additional mode in development. You know, typical rhythm fare.
Where Wonder Parade stands out is with its theme. The premise is that you are marching along with a song, after all. I’m pretty sure it implies we are the polar bar holding the drum. This means that most of the tracks, though diverse in genre, all have a beat you could walk, march or run to. As I played, I felt like a certain atmosphere was being cultivated by the tracks available.
The control scheme aids in this. Wonder Parade calls to mind games like Donkey Konga and Taiko no Tatsujin with its inputs. On its easiest mode, it can feel like drumming your fingers on top of a desk in time with a rather catchy instrumental track. When it gets more complicated and Expert tracks come up, it feels like you have to have the iPad on a flat surface in front of you, your hands on either side of the screen, and do your best to accurately keep time when tapping with the beat. It is like you are that bear with his two drum sticks, doing your best to keep the rhythm and hold on with those drum rolls.
Of course, it is Wonder Parade’s art direction that best keeps its theme. The game is set in a world with anthropomorphic animals. Each song has smoothly animated critters walking and either conducting or playing instruments above the track for notes. There’s a snazzy Shiba Inu at the head of every parade, setting the pace. The polar bear, possibly our avatar, appears behind him. While I have not yet found the criteria for unlocking them, folks can have a flute-playing rabbit or trumpet-blowing red panda following behind. Different songs even have different towns and environments behind them to fit their theme.
It can really feel like you’re beating the drum in a marching band with Wonder Parade. This is a delightful hidden gem for mobile devices. Especially if people are already familiar with rhythm games like Donkey Konga and Taiko no Tatsujin and are looking for a mobile alternative to take along with them. Line up and join this parade!
Wonder Parade is available for iOS devices and will come to Android devices in Spring 2018.