Despite my relatively low scoring for Mad Maestro!, I actually liked it. Perhaps it was the offbeat nature of the premise or maybe Im just a sucker for cutesy Japanese games, but I definitely liked it. While writing this review, I was originally going to give it at least a point or two more, but when I sat down and took a good, hard look at the game, I couldnt really find justification for scoring it any higher than I did.
I guess my main problem with the disc is that the gameplay just isnt very good. Perhaps its more fun with the missing baton peripheral, but in spite of my appreciation for classical music and my fetish for weird games, I found myself feeling bored very quickly. Music games tend to be fairly simple affairs in general, but I think a little more sophistication could have been implemented here. Like Peter said, the toughest part of the game is getting used to the analog pressure for the face buttons, but its really not that hard after twiddling with the sensitivity. Once you get the hang of it, its just so basic. You just follow the little ball around the screen, clicking around the diamond shape over and over and over and over. My eyes spun, my finger got tired, and I didnt get to enjoy the background visuals since I was so busy keeping my eye on the marker.
Its true that there are a bunch of minigames to unlock and a few other options to help lengthen the life of the game, but I didnt enjoy the button-pushing enough to want to spend more time with it. I finished it in a day, had a bit of fun, and after that I was ready to move on to something else. I wouldnt say that I had mastered it by any means, but I really didnt feel the desire to. Its cute and its charming, but it wasnt interesting enough to keep me coming back for more, especially since some of the musical selections are far too long and induce minor finger pain.
On the upside, the adorable cutscenes are attractive and super-clean looking, and a lot of the music is quite good. The Mussorgsky selections were two of my favorites, and most of the other compositions are quite nice, with a large amount of easily recognizable works. After playing Mad Maestro!, I think most players will be surprised at how many pieces of classical music they already know.
I liked what Mad Maestro! was trying to achieve, but I believe it falls too short in the mechanics of play to go down in history as one of the better music games. Its got appeal and I respect the boldness displayed by going classical, but its too simple and repetitive to be a full-priced purchase. Like the other Fresh Games release, Mister Mosquito, its originality is quite welcome, but the hefty price tag is not. I think most players should give it a chance, but youll probably be best served by renting it for a day or two.