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The best rhythm games to prove you can keep the beat

Sayonara Wild Hearts - best rhythm games
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

The best rhythm games are great for gamers of all ages and abilities. They can be fantastic party games or great ones to enjoy solo, and every single one of them will have banging beats. 

No matter your console preference, ability, or whether or not you like to play solo or with friends, we've got a rhythm game for you. We've got ten of 'em, actually, and ranked them. To be honest, it may be tough to enjoy some of these games on the list as they are from older console generations and require extra controllers that may be tough to nab out in the wild - but you can't have a rhythm game list without Guitar Hero. If you've ever spent hours in your friend's basement, strumming away at a plastic guitar, then you're going to love this list. If you're a music lover, you'll love a chance to translate that ability (or maybe even talent) into a rhythm game. 

Nowadays rhythm games are diverse and varied and offer gamers a chance to step away from the intense battle royales or involved RPGs and get lost in the beat. Here are the ten best rhythm games.

10.  Crypt of the Necrodancer 

Crypt of the Necrodancer

(Image credit: Brace Yourself Games)

Developers: Brace Yourself Games, Blitworks
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

A roguelike rhythm game, you say? Yup, it's Crypt of the Necrodancer, a beat-matching dungeon crawler set to an original soundtrack full of earworms. Move your character to the beat of the song that's playing, and suffer the consequences (impaired movement) when you miss a beat. Some players even import their own music or hook up a dance pad instead of using traditional controls to really up the ante. Crypto of the Necrodancer is a brilliantly unique take on the rhythm game that is a must-play for anyone interested in the genre. 

9. Thumper

Thumper

(Image credit: Drool)

Developer: Drool
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch, Oculus

Thumper is incredibly cool. Billed as a "rhythm violence game," Thumper has you guiding a beetle-like creature along tracks that take you through bizarre worlds. Press buttons to hit "notes" that pop up along the track in time with the background music while also avoiding obstacles (like spikes, ouch) and defeating enemies along the way. You can take one hit, but if you take a second, you'll start over from the last checkpoint, so you'll need to be on point with Thumper. This game is full of creepy cosmic entities and other horrors, and the sinister score only adds to the unease. This is a horror rhythm game, so prepare yourself.  

8. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory 

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

Kingdom Hearts fans will love Melody of Memory, a rhythmic action game that offers both single and multiplayer gameplay. Press buttons along with the beat, with misses affecting your health. The game will end if it runs out, so keep an eye on those beats. You can level up health and attack powers, with every character having a ranged and melee attack. The story campaign takes you through the Kingdom Hearts story so far, with players completing songs and then facing an enemy from the original game that the song is based on. Melody of Memory is a fun romp through the Kingdom Hearts series full of iconic Disney songs - what more could you ask for? 

7. Rock Band series

Rock Band 3

(Image credit: Harmonix)

Developers: Harmonix, EA Mobile
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo DS

Rock Band takes the Guitar Hero formula and applies it to an entire four-piece band, giving you a chance to play the drums, bass, and guitar, and drop some vocals for some rocking music. There's nothing quite like getting your friends together to do raucous covers of Paramore until the wee hours of the morning, your mom banging on the floor to get you to shut up. A Rock Band set is kinda hard to find right now, and you can't buy songs in the store anymore, but its legacy will never be forgotten.  

6. Dance Dance Revolution series 

Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2

(Image credit: Konami)

Developer: Konami
Platforms: PS2, Xbox, Nintendo Wii

Everybody loves a little DDR, whether you're playing on a crinkly plastic fold-up mat in your basement or on the impressive arcade version in your local Dave and Buster's. Dance Dance Revolution is an iconic entry in the rhythm game genre, offering players across the globe a chance to get a serious workout in while they game. I don't know how much actual dancing you're doing when you play Dance Dance Revolution, as you're really timing footsteps with the falling arrows on-screen, but you'll certainly break a sweat. With a great selection of music to choose from, DDR is always a good time - if you can still find it to play. 

5. Fuser

Fuser

(Image credit: Harmonix)

Developer: Harmonix
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC

If you've ever gone to a music festival, looked up at the effortlessly cool DJ mixing music that has thousands of people dancing, and said "I wanna be that," then Fuser is for you. With an extensive music selection that you can add to with in-game purchases, Fuser gives you all the tools to become a sick DJ. This isn't like DJ Hero, which came with a plastic turntable that required you to hit colored buttons on time to a beat. Instead, Fuser gives you four on-screen turntables that you can drop records onto, seamlessly mixing a 50 Cent beat with an Evanescence chorus. Timing your additions to a downbeat will hype up the audience even more, as will pulling records at the right time. It's all about feeding off the crowd and keeping up with the beat - Fuser is an absolute blast. 

4. Beat Saber

Beat Saber

(Image credit: Beat Games)

Developer: Beat Games
Platforms: PS4, PC, Oculus

Beat Saber is a fantastic VR rhythm game that basically lets you be a Jedi at a rave - and who doesn't want to be that? In Beat Saber, you'll slash the beats from some of the best bops out there as they fly towards you in a futuristic cyberpunk world. Beat Saber has some seriously great beats in it, and developer Beat Games just keeps adding more: you can slash the beats of songs from Panic! at the Disco, Lady Gaga, Green Day, BTS, and more. 

3. Friday Night Funkin'

Friday Night Funkin'

(Image credit: Cameron "Ninjamuffin99" Taylor, David "PhantomArcade" Brown, Isaac "Kawai Sprite" Garcia, and evilsk8r)

Developer: Cameron Taylor, Newgrounds, Inc.
Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac, PC, web browsers

Friday Night Funkin (opens in new tab)' feels like a game from the early 2000s in the best way possible. You play as Boyfriend, who must defeat a variety of enemies in rap battles and singing competitions in order to date his crush, Girlfriend (how very Scott Pilgrim of you, Friday Night Funkin'). The battles require players to mimic the opponent's notes with quick time events, with difficulty levels that range from easy to hard. If you don't hit the notes, you run out of "life" and have to start from the beginning. In order to get with the girl, you gotta get with the beat. 

2. Sayonara Wild Hearts

Sayonara Wild Hearts

(Image credit: Simogo)

Developer: Simogo
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, iOS, Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch

Sayonara Wild Hearts is as fun as it is beautiful, with music that will stay in your head long after you stop playing. With a beautiful story about heartbreak and the power of following your heart, you'll step into the neon-soaked world with the beautiful notes of Claire de Lune welcoming you, before you jump into an action rhythm game that will entrance you. Sayonara Wild Hearts tasks you with weaving a motorcycle through 24 levels, gathering hearts as you weave in and out of lanes and hit quick time events that sync up with the incredible music. Good luck putting this one down.  

1. Guitar Hero series

Guitar Hero

(Image credit: Activision)

Developer: Harmonix
Platforms: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, Mac

It's hard to top the Guitar Hero series, which revolutionized the rhythm game and made it so popular it spawned tons of copycat games. Guitar Hero lets you be exactly that: a guitar hero with a plastic guitar, playing to a crowd that will cheer wildly when you successfully play "notes," but will boo you off the stage if you miss too many chords. All of Guitar Hero's iterations let you create your own rockstar persona with customizable outfits and looks, and each game seemed to get better and better music. The cultural conversation around successfully completing some of its most difficult songs (Through the Fire and Flames, anyone) made talented Guitar Hero players the stuff of legend. And although it's gone the same way as Rock Band, a new Guitar Hero game was discussed as part of Microsoft's Activision-Blizzard purchase. Perhaps my dreams of being a rockstar aren't dead yet… 


If you're looking for more, check out the best steath games and the best shooter games.

Alyssa Mercante
Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.