The rhythm is gonna get you
Forget violent shooters, competitive fighters, or the slow burn role-playing games--sometimes you just want to get your groove on. Rhythm games are the answer to satisfying that craving in your soul thats just telling you to get down and boogie. You can learn new dance moves, play in a band, go on a musical adventure, or sing your heart out. Rhythm games offer plenty of variety and creativity within the genre; not to mention, they also let you live out your fantasies of being on stage with your favorite band or singing at a sold out show as a pop singer.
We love rhythm games, thats why weve put together our list of the best titles you can get your hands on. Check out our favorites right here
Rhythm and music games are only as good as the tunes that fill out their soundtracks, and in Audiosurf, the soundtrack is totally unlimited. By pulling music from your personal MP3 library and literally crafting audio levels that you're able to, well, "surf," the indie game can be anything you want it to be. You can pick your favorite rap track and enjoy the zig-zagging patterns that adapt to the beat of the songs, select some classic rock and enjoy the smooth ride, or start up some dubstep and hold on for dear life when the bass drops. Or you can just pick a podcast, and entertain yourself with a game that actually moves to the laughter, yelling, and ramblings of your favorite shows.
This, alone, is a technical achievement worth noting, but where it truly thrives is in the different modes, all of which provide whimsical experiences of their own, and leaderboards that rank your scores against anyone else to ever surf Styx's "Come Sail Away." It's a downright mesmerizing experience, and one that you'll continue to go back to every time your favorite artist drops a new album.
Take the competitive aspects of a fighting game and combine it with rhythmic button pressing, break dancing, and special attack moves, and you get Bust-a-Groove. You choose from a cast of dancers ranging from beanie-wearing break dancer, to a strange house dancer that wears a gas mask. Two characters compete in a breakdancing showdown, in which they attempt to outdo their competition by performing special moves and even attacking their opponents all while keeping the beat. The longest combo chain scores the highest points, and the cleanest runs lead you to victory. Bust-a-Groove is like being in a dance battle you see in those inspirational movies about dancing, except you can throw fireballs at the competition.
As the sequel to early-PS2 game Frequency and the precursor to the recent Rock Band Blitz, Amplitude is the king of the multilane flight/rhythm genre. Set in an abstract future populated by plenty of colorful DJs and trippy backdrops, Amplitude tasks you with tapping in time to multiple layers of a track, all adding up to create a glorious harmony (or not, in the case of the single Slipknot song). Cruising through psychedelic tunnels of music using your strange spaceship as a receptacle for notes was a trip, and went perfectly with the games techno-heavy soundtrack.
It wasnt just techno, mind you--this was one of the first examples of Harmonixs shrewd song selections, managing to make a setlist including songs by the likes of Garbage, David Bowie, and Run-DMC feel coherent. Plus, its one of the earliest rhythm games to let you freestyle (thanks to a nifty power-up), and creative types could devise their own versions of each tune in the remix mode. It even had online play on the PS2, back when that was a thing.
7. Parappa the Rappa
Parappa is one of the few rhythm titles that will have you singing the lyrics of the songs at any mention of its 2D rapping dog. Thanks to the onion-headed Kung Fu master that teaches you to kick, kick, punch, and the driving instructor that teaches Parappa to check and turn his signal to the left, the rapper wins the heart of that flower girl and a place in our hearts.
We know the story doesnt make much sense and the gameplay may be a bit simplistic by todays rhythm game standards, but Parappa is one of the most aesthetically unique games you can find, and has some catchy, original tunes to boot. Parappa the Rapper is a one rhythm title everyone should play.
6. Rhythm Heaven Fever
Nintendo usually keeps their games pretty mainstream, but when the company feels like getting really weird, they usually do that with freaky minigame collections like Rhythm Heaven Fever. The Wii version of the cult music series, RHF is the best entry in the franchise thanks to a new level of approachability that doesnt betray the essence of the game. Fever is exploding with incredibly catchy songs, and theyre all based around simple-yet-funny premises. RHF features such cute ideas as interviewing a pro wrestler, playing a tambourine with a monkey, and stealthily kicking away soccer balls during a first date.
And unlike previous entries in the series, the difficulty of the songs isnt a punishment. If you fail too many times at a song, the game allows you to skip to the next one, so you can enjoy the entire track list even if you dont have rhythm, though high scores are still awarded with unlocks. It strikes such a great balance that lets everyone be happy while playing the awesome music.
5. Dance Dance Revolution: Supernova
Besides being one of the best ways to lose weight from a video game, DDR is one of the most beloved rhythm franchises in the industry. DDR is a simple in concept but is exceedingly difficult to master. Arrows scroll up on a screen, coinciding with buttons on a dance pad. Your timing and accuracy with your feet determines the score at the end of each song.
Sounds easy, right? Sure, it is until a flood of arrows fill the screen and you find yourself moving your feet faster than Michael Flatly, Lord of the Dance. But even if you arent that skilled, there is plenty of entertainment that can come out of watching experienced players inconceivably tap dance through the most difficult songs.
4. Elite Beat Agents
Playing as a group of government agents dedicated to solving the worlds problems through inspirational songs isnt something you do in a typical rhythm game--but Elite Beat Agents isn't exactly typical. Here, the premise, as well as the tactile controls, sucks you into its addictive gameplay.
The DS title makes the player tap, slide, and spin their styluses to the beat using the systems touch screen. The agents get sent on assignments to help those in need, but rather than offering the unfortunate citizen physical help, they help by musical inspiration, encouraging people to overcome their challenges on their own. It all culminates in a surprisingly addictive and massively entertaining experience as you encounter increasingly outrageous situations.
3. Guitar Hero 2
Guitar Hero 2 was the game in the series that launched the recent obsession over rhythm-based music games when it released back in 2006. From there the flood of offshoots and improvements to the music game formula began materializing in the form of Rock Band and DJ Hero. But the guitar-only title is still one of the best rhythm games you can play thanks to its diverse track list and immensely entertaining mechanics.
Harmonixs challenging musical fret shredder let players play the riffs of some of the most popular rock songs in history, including Van Halens You really got me and Sweet Child o mine by Guns n Roses. The hardest difficulties offer an intense challenge for those perfectionists out there, but novice players can work on their chops on the easier difficulties. Guitar Hero 2 is a game for every skill level and is still a blast to play even today.
2. Dance Central 3
Harmonix is no stranger to developing revered rhythm games--so when Microsoft unveiled the Kinect, they got to work making the best dance series that motion controls can offer. Dance Central 2 added some much needed multiplayer, while the third entry in the franchise-- which we loved, by the way, as detailed in our Dance Central 3 review--rounded out the package with a single-player story. Yep, a solo campaign in a dance game, featuring time travel between the various eras of movin and groovin.
With stellar choreography, a diverse tracklist (thanks in part to the time travel motif), and some surprisingly lovable characters, Dance Central 3 is perfect for parties, or for just practicing difficult dance moves on your own. Youd be amazed at how willing your buddies will be to get down and boogie when its all tied to a carefully tuned and highly polished game. Plus, DC3 will teach you classic dance moves like the Hustle, Electric Slide, and Macarena, which you can actually bust out at real-world events to the delight of onlookers.
1. Rock Band 3
Combine friendly gatherings, popular music, gameplay that nearly anyone can immediately pick up, and plastic instruments that let you pretend youre a rock star, and you have the best rhythm game you can get your hands on. Rock Band 3 is the ultimate party game, letting players shred on the guitar, slappa da bass, wail on vocals, or pound the drums to songs like Ozzy Osbournes Crazy Train, and Lynyrd Skynyrds Free Bird in four player co-op.
Rock Band 3 allows you to jam out to a massive list of songs thanks to the ability to play any tracks youve purchased from the previous games, and with the constant song list updates, the options are seemingly endless. Nearly anyone who knows the basic mechanics of playing music can jump right into a set and rock out to their hearts content. Even if you go in solo, every instrument is a blast to play and feels (almost) like the real thing. Rock Band 3 is the closest you can get to playing in a band without having to spend years learning an instrument. Its amazing.