Music! It enriches and enlivens our lives. Its presence in video games makes the experience of playing them all the more engaging. That comes down to rhythm, melody, harmony, sometimes rarely dissonance, music. Rhythm games involve musical cues that demand unorthodox inputs from the player, often with a unique controller or button pad. The simulation of playing musical instruments or of dancing may seem awkward, but the beautiful thing about the Rhythm/Music genre is it allows players to connect with music in ways they may never have tried before, if they thought themselves musically disinclined. A gamer may never choose to sing in front of an audience or learn guitar or take dance lessons or play a cello in a symphony orchestra, but video games, in their diverse transportive ability, allow anyone to see what playing music is like instead of just passively listening to it. As someone who plays a few musical instruments, this is something that I really appreciate about the broad spectrum of fun Rhythm games. Rhythm games, to me, really illustrate how much reach video games have and what they can become.
A-one, a-two, a-skiddly diddly doo!
The Green Screen Mage
Just Dance. Just any of them. All of the dance games that make you look like an idiot with your friends. They’re weirdly addicting and so much fun.
The Black Humor Mage
I have no rhythm what’s so ever, as my friends can attest to, but I love a few rhythm games. My favorite has to be Guitar Hero III. I’m not sure if it’s the best Guitar Hero, but it is the one I played the most had a great time with. Plus this is the one that had “Through the Fire and Flames”, so I had good time miserably failing that song on normal mode every time.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Guitar Hero. Oh sweet teenage memories, I was obsessed with Guitar Hero and still am happy to run across one at arcades so I can show off my sick skills at pushing plastic buttons and flicking a plastic strum bar in rhythm. Any time I hear a song that I played to death on any of the Guitar Hero games I still can’t help but be brought right back to sitting there and clicking it out until you “git gud” and the crowd stops booing. (Honorary Mentions – Rock Band, Dance Central: Kinect, PaRappa the Rapper)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
While I never owned it, and generally don’t have ANY rhythm, Guitar Hero II always made its way around the various parties I would attend. Where else would I have learned all the words to “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas?
The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy has some of the best music in video games in my personal opinion. So being able to play through a great selection of songs spanning the vast titles in the series was something I just couldn’t refuse.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
I have no rhythm and my doctor tells me I was born without the necessary chromosomes for dancing, so I’ll sit this one out. Like I usually do at weddings when people crowd onto the dance floor….I’ll just quietly sulk in a corner…
The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)
One game comes to mind when we hear Rhythm! PaRappa the Rapper! Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind. Move over Karate Kid, everybody knows the road to fame is by becoming a rapper. This PS1 Classic follows young PaRappa in his misadventures about town with character designs by Rodney Greenblat, blending 2D characters with 3D environments. Everything about this free styling adventure is revolutionary & memorable. 1997 was a good year.
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
DJ Max Portable Trilogy. This one was an absolute toughie. I will forever be a Dance Dance Revolution fan at heart, especially of its Free-for-All PC variant Stepmania. But as arcades steadily stopped being a thing, and opportunities to seek them out dwindled, I started falling back on handhelds for my musical gaming needs- given that I spent a surprising amount of time riding public transport, a handheld and good pair of headphones was all I needed to make that trip a cozy one.
I had really grown to like the original DJ Max Portable for the PSP thanks to my brother, who had imported it and lent it to me constantly. After I finally got a PSP of my own- thankfully relinquishing his just in time for Final Fantasy Dissidia– the Korean series became my go-to choice for passing time on the handheld. Coming from the 4-button DDR, the 6- and 8-button expert modes on these games were more than a challenge to get used to, but highly rewarding in the end, and I loved the difficulty of the note patterns. I’ve never 100%’d any of these games, and am pretty certain never will- especially since the very first entry requires 100% accuracy on every song and difficulty in the game, which simply isn’t happening because I’m not insane.
Okay, so maybe I DID do the ‘999,999’ combo achievements on all three of them. That’s a totally different insane.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
Another genre that I tend to forget about, rhythm games have been around for quite a while. However, I don’t think any of them rose to the level of success more than the Guitar Hero franchise. The first game took the world by storm, and while the series was absolutely milked to death worse than Call of Duty for god’s sake, the original game was hugely popular, particularly across college campuses where I spent a lot of time in 2005. It’s sad to see all those plastic guitars up for dirt cheap at yard sales these days, as the success definitely tapered off once the gimmick wore thin. Still, Guitar Hero is responsible for introducing some great songs and artists to an entire generation of players who may have never heard of them.
It was also the first (and probably last) time that being able to play a video game got you girls. Thanks for the good times, Guitar Hero III’s “Through the Fire and Flames” on Expert!
The Rage Mage
Wii Music takes the cake for my favorite worst rhythm game… presentation. Watching full-grown adults pretend to get into music that sounds like it’s being played by an arthritic octopus is one of the most embarrassing things Nintendo has ever done. And that’s saying a lot, considering.
The Well-Red Mage
Wow, lots of love for the Guitar Hero series on today’s Challenge. I should’ve expected as much! While I’ve played a little heroic lute myself, I really got into DDR Max and the other Dance Dance Revolution games at one point in my life. I even became lithe enough to conquer “Max 300” and “Sakura” on super-duper hard difficulty. Those days must be over, since my knees pop just getting out of bed in the morning, so I’ll go with a more perennial favorite. Taiko: Drum Master! If you pronounce the name of this game, you must do so with complete enthusiasm. This is another one of those super-bizarre and hyper-adorable Japanese titles, which I understand appeared in Japanese arcades, which you can play on the PS2 with a physical taiko drum controller. Hitting the rims and the center of the drum with two giant taiko sticks is a great feeling, especially when you’re beating it out to the weird tracks like “My Sharona”, “Toxic”, the Dragon Ball Z theme song, “William Tell Overture” and the “Fire and Flames” of Taiko: Drum Master… “Dragon Spirit” on Oni mode. It’s never been so thrilling to beat the crap out of something to accompanying cutesy music. I just wish the song list was longer!
Thanks for the jam sesh, cool cat! Tomorrow’s post brings together two great franchises and creates one poorly defined genre. What could it possibly be?
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to entertainment journalism. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a podcast and webzine with paid contributors! See our Patreon page for more info!