Featured Graphic by Destiny Mizell
Story by Grace Howland
Rhythm games are one of my favorite video game genres. They revolve around pressing specific buttons in time with the music. A few things that make them incredibly fun are the gameplay mechanics and the great music. Each game in this list has different gameplay styles and music selections.
Here are some of my top picks for rhythm games that caused me to bop my head to the beat.
Developer: Beat Games
Platforms: PC, Oculus Quest, Meta Quest 2 and Pro, PlayStation 4 and 5
“Beat Saber” mashes the rhythm game genre and virtual reality gameplay together. Your controllers become swords that are basically lightsabers from “Star Wars,” and you have to slice blocks and avoid obstacles in time with the music.
The blocks will usually come with arrows, so they need to be sliced in a specific direction. Depending on the difficulty level, you may either have a few blocks at a time or a bunch of them flying your way. Not only do you have to cut the blocks, but you also have to move your body to avoid spiky obstacles that come your way. The game can be a pretty good workout at times.
“Beat Saber” includes many energetic songs you can choose from, such as instrumental music and K-Pop songs. You can also choose songs from many other popular artists and bands as a part of the game’s downloadable content. You can buy songs separately or you can buy them in bundles.
This is the first rhythm game I have played in VR, and it is a lot of fun. It can be fun to watch other people play this game as well. The game is easy to get into, but difficult to master. It is also the one VR game that does not make me motion sick.
“Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix”
Developer: Konami, Hudson Soft
Platforms: Nintendo GameCube
“Dance Dance Revolution” (or “DDR” for short) may have been my first ever rhythm game. Growing up, I played many of the games on my iPod Touch, consoles, and the arcade machines. My elementary school gym class even had a “DDR” contest at one point.
The series is iconic for its gameplay and the catchy songs included. Stepping on arrows to the music may seem like a simple premise, but it can actually be quite challenging and a great workout.
However, I am covering one fairly obscure “DDR” game in particular on this list. Yes, even Mario has his own “DDR” game for the Nintendo GameCube.
The game maintains the classic “DDR” gameplay, but it also has its own unique aspects such as a story mode, minigames and Mario-themed remixes. They even included Waluigi as one of the villains. You can either play with a “GameCube” controller or a “DDR” mat made specifically for this game. I discovered that you can even play other “GameCube” games with the mat, as it functions like a “GameCube” controller.
The story mode revolves around finding the missing ‘Music Keys,’ which are said to grant wishes. You must also defeat bosses in battles. What kinds of battles? If you guessed dance battles, then you are correct!
This may be one of the most bizarre video game crossovers I have ever played, but that’s one thing that makes me adore this game so much. I love video game crossovers, especially when they mash together franchises that no one would expect. The music in this game is also incredibly catchy. As someone who loves both the “Mario” and “DDR” franchises, I knew I had to pick this game up.
Developer: Rayark International Limited
Platforms: PC, Steam VR, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
“DEEMO -Reborn-” is a three-dimensional remake of the original “DEEMO.” This version of the game includes a beautiful interactive environment, a bigger story, and more songs.
The plot of the game revolves around a girl who falls from the sky and loses her memories. She meets someone named Deemo, who plays piano in a lonesome treehouse. As you progress through the game, there will be puzzles to solve and more areas to explore. The tree grows higher into the sky with the more songs you play.
Many of the songs are instrumental and have a classical feel to them. They fit the gameplay very well, as it kind of feels like I am playing piano keys. The art style is adorable and beautiful as well.
Everything combined makes the game visually pleasing. I often find myself playing it whenever I need to sit down and enjoy a relaxing and laid back game.
The “Groove Coaster” Series
Developer: Matrix Software
Platforms: Mobile, Arcade, PC, Nintendo Switch
As the title implies, “Groove Coaster” is a rhythm game that takes place on a roller coaster-style track. You control a little avatar who rides on a track that moves in multiple directions, and there are button cues along the way. While you do not have to press too many buttons, the games have unique button prompts that make it challenging.
For example, you may have to press two buttons at the same time, or you may have to repeatedly hit a button multiple times to the music. The button cues can be varied depending on the level of difficulty. There are even hidden cues within each song that can earn you extra points.
The series comes with original songs made for the games. “Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party,” which is the “Nintendo Switch” version, separates the music into different genres, such as anime, video game, pop, and many other genres. The games have similar gameplay but each one comes with a unique selection of songs.
There are also characters called ‘Navigators,’ who congratulate you when you clear a song. The “Switch” version has crossover characters, such as ‘Vocaloid’ characters like Hatsune Miku and “Touhou” characters. The game also has downloadable content which include bundles of songs, avatars and Navigators. One of the downloadable bundles is an “Undertale” bundle, which adds the characters Sans and Papyrus to the game.
I have enjoyed the PC, arcade and mobile versions of the series, but I have definitely played the “Switch” version the most. The game became more exciting because of the additions of multiple genres and characters.
Developer: Holy Wow Studios LLC
Platforms: Mac and PC
“Trombone Champ” is a cartoony rhythm game that revolves around trombones, of course. There are many recognizable classical songs as well as songs created by Holy Wow. The instrument used is indeed a trombone.
I must admit that this game can be quite difficult at times. I did try to play this without a mouse, but precision is key in this game. Players must play the trombone in time with the notes that come at you. Your trombone will actually play the music as well.
The game is comedic in nature, and it has a cartoony art style and animated backgrounds. However, there is a warning for minor jumpscares at the start of the game, but they can be minimized in the settings. The game also reminds me of “Wii Music” due to the art style and gameplay.
The game claims to have multiple baboons in it, which you can adjust how many will appear in your game within the settings. You can collect trading cards, give your trombone a hat, and explore a forgotten trombone chamber. Seriously, this game is amazing.
As many more rhythm games continue to be developed, I continue to play them and adore them. These games have definitely increased my love for the rhythm game genre as a whole.
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