Despite being a fan of first-person shooters, role-playing games and platformers, there’s nothing that excites me as much as playing rhythm games. Sometimes you just want to play a song with a plastic controller, express yourself through the art of dancing in front of a camera or simply push buttons to the beat. I certainly wouldn’t be learning how to play the guitar if it wasn’t for the impact some of the rhythm games below had on me. Since I enjoy rhythm games so much, I created a list with ten of the best rhythm titles you can play.
My favorite thing about Audiosurf is that this game is unlimited in terms of content, since you can use any MP3 file in your music library. Once the game scans your personal music library, it lets you choose any track and it uses that song to create a level that you can “surf.” Audiosurf was technically impressive and I was really disappointed when the sequel came out as a Steam Early Access game. Luckily, the first iteration has aged remarkably well and still feels like a technical marvel.
Favorite track: Since the best part about Audiosurf is the fact that you can add your own music, this varies from person to person.
Rock Band 3 was a better game, but the original Rock Band perfected the rhythm game genre in a way that seemed pretty much impossible. Rock Band wasn’t a Guitar Hero clone. To the Guitar Hero formula, Rock Band added new instruments (drums, vocals and bass,) there were barely any covers and the DLC maintained the popularity of the game for years. I miss Rock Band and I hope we see a new game in the series in the near future.
Favorite track: Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So
How do you convince a grown man who playing with plastic toys is normal? You make a game that has some of the best rock anthems ever made and you encourage that person to use the plastic guitar to play those songs. Guitar Hero was the reason I spent so much time in my living room trying to perfect songs and I still feel that time was well spent.
Favorite track: The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated
Vib-Ribbon is one of the most bizarre rhythm games ever made. In fact, the game was so weird that it wasn’t officially released in North America back in the day, so those interested in playing the game in this continent had to import the game from Europe or Japan. In Vib-Ribbon, you can use any music CD in your collection to generate levels and then press buttons so that the rabbit skates along a ribbon made out of music. The game was finally released as a digital title in 2014 for the PlayStation 3, PSP and Vita.
Favorite track: Main Song
For those unfamiliar with Amplitude, this game is the follow-up to Frequency and the precursor to Guitar Hero, so many of the elements we take for granted in the genre were first introduced by Amplitude in the PS2 era. The idea in this game is to tap in time, so that you can clear different layers of a given track. Once you cleared a couple of layers, the song started sounding as it’s supposed to and the result was one of the most gratifying moments in games. This was also one of the first rhythm games to have an online mode.
Favorite track: Garbage’s Cherry Lips
In Elite Beat Agents you play as a group of federal agents who help people in trouble through dancing. Sounds bizarre? Well, it is and playing the inspirational songs from the soundtrack is also remarkably addictive. Elite Beat Agents made intensive use of the Nintendo DS hardware, since the game asked you to tap, slide and spin the stylus accordingly to progress.
Favorite track: Sum 41’s Make No Difference
If you had a Kinect, you had to buy Dance Central. Like Guitar Hero and Rock Band before it, Dance Central revolutionized the rhythm genre in exciting new ways. In this case, that meant dancing in front of a television and receiving immediate feedback, so that you could improve your form. Granted, you could always look like an idiot, but if you have a remote interest in getting better, Dance Central can be an amazing teaching tool.
Favorite track: I hate myself for saying this, but Poker Face
Parappa the Rappa
Who says you need expensive plastic instruments to enjoy rhythm games? Parappa the Rapper encourages you to tap buttons in time and as you rack up more and more point you realize that sometimes the most simple of things can be the most fulfilling. Catchy tunes, simplistic gameplay, unique style, make Parappa an experience worth having. Kick, Kick and Punch!
Favorite track: Chop Chop Master Onion Rap
Dance Dance Revolution
Dance Central might have perfected the formula, but DDR created it. Most people who had the chance to play Dance Dance Revolution are really passionate about the game. The core concepts was simple enough: follow the arrows and hit them in time to rack up points, but timing and accuracy are also important.
Favorite track: It’s been a while, so I included a compilation of songs I found on YouTube.
As far as weird Japanese games go, it doesn’t get much weirder than Rhythm Heaven. Interestingly, all you have to do in most levels is tap to the beat, but the mini-games are so bizarre that you’ll keep playing just to see what the game has in story for you. No wonder this became a cult series.
Favorite track: Remix 10