10 Best Rhythm Games
Rock on! These 10 Best Rhythm Games transcend music genre and time. They grew this gaming genre from little more than a few concept games in the 16-bit era, to full blown band simulators in our current generation. Whether J-Pop, Rap, Rock, Techno, Reggae, or Dubstep, these 10 Best Rhythm Games are your place to shred, dance, and rock out in the gaming world!
Vib-Ribbon was a bizarre import game that asked you to press buttons to the beat of the music in order to help a rabbit skate along a ribbon of sound. What was cool about this game was that the software was loaded into the PlayStation’s RAM as soon as the game started. This allowed you to play the game with any music CD in your collection, and that's why it belongs on our list of the 10 Best Rhythm Games.
Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind! When rhythm gaming was just getting popular, Parappa the Rapper proved that you don’t need a hundred dollar peripheral to enjoy the genre. Instead, all he asked you to do was press the buttons on your controller to the beat. You could even rack up a few extra points by freestyling between the notes you had to hit.
Parappa the Rapper was pretty bizarre, what with its rapping sentient onions, but Rhythm Heaven takes the cake for strange Japanese rhythm games. Once again all you had to do was press a button (or tap the screen on the DS), to the rhythm in a variety of mini-games. But these mini-games were so weird they kept you coming back. Whether you were filling up robots with gas, catching bread and spiders, punting balls away from your hot date, or slashing apart vengeful spirits in a samurai movie, these games were absolutely ludicrous and had more than one WTF moment. The remixes that made you play more than one mini-game at once were cool as well.
Audiosurf did what Vib-Ribbon did but better. This PC game let you play a simple object avoidance game timed to the beat of your favorite music. Any music file could generate a stage, and after completing a stage your score would be sent to your other friends that play Audiosurf. You can then try to one-up them by outdoing their score. It was a great way to stay competitive while being introduced to new music at the same time.
Let’s go back to the world of strange Japanese games for a second shall we? Elite Beat Agents is a game based on a Japanese title called Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, which roughly translated into Yeah! Fight! Cheer Squad. In it, you play a squad of male cheerleaders whose job it is to cheer people on to make sure they succeed in whatever they are doing. When ported to America, the game became Elite Beat Agents. Instead of a cheerleading squad, you are now super-secret agents in black suits who... cheer people on to make sure they succeed in whatever they are doing. How the heck did the American version become more bizarre than the Japanese version?
Guitar Hero brought the fantasy band experience into your very own home. Now you weren’t simply hitting buttons on a controller or stomping on a dance mat. Now you were shredding on your very own plastic guitar! Sure, it was basically an excuse for grown men to play with toys, but in those few short minutes where you picked up the controller and rocked out in your living room, you might as well have been Jimi Hendrix. Even he would approve of Guitar Hero being on our list of the 10 Best Rhythm Games.
When the Kinect came out, the world of Rhythm games changed. Suddenly we didn’t need peripherals to play our games. We didn’t need controllers at all. All we had to do is stand up in front of our TVs and dance like a moron. Granted, this game wasn’t any better at actually teaching us how to dance than Guitar Hero was at teaching us how to play guitar, but you sure did feel like Justin Timberlake if you managed to clear a Dance Central song on hard.
Rerave is the best rhythm game that you never heard of. The goal of the game is to tap a touch screen to the beat of the music. Sometimes you have to hold your finger on the screen. Sometimes you have to tap multiple times in a row. Sometimes you have to slide your finger across the screen. But that’s it. Just tap, hold, and slide where the game tells you to. The thing is, when you put this to a beat you get an absolutely astounding synesthetic experience. Rerave is currently one of the best rhythm games in the arcade, and if you have an iPad and haven’t picked up the iOS version you are missing out on one of the best rhythm experiences in this generation.
Dance Dance Revolution was one of the first rhythm games to really go viral with its popularity. It cropped up in arcades in the late '90s and early '00s as a direct import from Japan. However, since then it has had no shortage of gamers willing to get up on its steel cabinet and stomp their feet to the beat. The song titles Butterfly, Paranoia, Mr. Wonderful and more, suddenly became household names, when before they would only show up in the collections of the most hardcore of Jpop and Techno fans. DDR may be falling in popularity now, but it was undoubtedly what caused the original explosion of the Bemani craze.
If DDR was the first to spread the rhythm game craze, Rock Band perfected it. Granted, the game was essentially a Guitar Hero clone, but it added drums, vocals (which many argued was a copy of Karaoke Revolution), and eventually a keyboard (which several argued was copying Keyboardmania). While many of these instruments existed in other forms before, Rock Band was the first to bring them all together in a… well... a rock band setting. Rock Band was no doubt the king of the rhythm genre through its best years, and if it weren’t for the oppressive cost of downloadable content and instrument peripherals, it might have still been the king today. Nevertheless, it deserves to be #1 on our list of the 10 Best Rhythm Games.