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What Ever Happened to Rhythm Games?

Rhythm Games

What happened to the yearly line up of fantastic rhythm games? They were house party must-haves, and fun for all the family. We haven’t seen a new Guitar Hero or Rock Band since 2015! Even the last Guitar Hero dropped the superb drum kit and went back to basics. We did have Rock Band VR in 2017, but it’s just not the same and didn’t have the mass appeal of the other entries in the franchise.

PaRappa the Rapper

We got some love in 2017 with the re-release of PaRappa the Rapper on PlayStation 4. They remastered this brilliant game in 4K and everything. For me though, it all started with the original version of this on the PlayStation 1. Not forgetting the somewhat fun sequel Um Jammer Lammy.

The PlayStation 1 was no stranger to rhythm games though. We have Vib-Ribbon, Bust a Groove, Dance Dance Revolution, and the trippy as hell Fluid, where you play as a dolphin that swims the music. It was half Ecco the Dolphin, and half a DJ set on acid. Check it out below!

Fluid

Things got even more exciting in the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast era. We got the completely and utterly bonkers Space Channel 5 on the Dreamcast. It was somewhere between J-POP and a dance scene from Austin Powers.

The Dreamcast (and later the Wii) also gave us the utterly delightful and fun Samba de Amigo. You even got a set of maracas controllers.

If that’s not your thing. How could you not love the custom bongo controller that came with Donkey Konga on the Gamecube!

Guitar Hero and Beyond

However, the PS2 brought us Taiko: Drum Master, DJ Hero, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Band Hero, PaRapper the Rapper 2, Beatmania, and a plethora of dance mat games that were huge business back in the day. We saw pretty much the same story on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 too. Heavy releases of new Guitar Hero and Rockband content that kept the games interesting even for long-term players. There was nothing I loved more than jamming out to Pull Me Under on the drums.

The Beginning of the End?

Moving on to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the games seem to get pretty thin on the ground. We did get the re-release of PaRapper The Rapper, another Just Dance game. New entries like Thumper and Superbeat: Xonic never really captured the market or my interest. The only exception being Rocksmith, albeit I could already play the guitar really well (humble brag), and the games concept was what entertained me for a little while.

So What’s Next?

Well, bugger all as far as I can tell. The only ones that are really NEW-ish right now is Beat Saber on VR. Again, that’s not so much got the mass-market clout due to the hardware needed. I’d love to see a new guitar hero, with drums, singing, the whole lot, make a solid comeback. What about you, what are your favourite rhythm games, would you want to see them make a comeback?

Peter Donnell @Xavilend

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  • I'm not sure what you mean by 'really serious and hard to get into'. Put just about any person in the Quest with Beat Saber or Moon Rider and they'd immediately get into it. I see tons of reports of that on the Quest subreddit and can attest to that from my kids' experience.

    I can understand why a VR headset might not be perfect for a group or party scenarios, but it can also work (it's kind of funny to see people moving in their own virtual world). But certainly for single player, these are both easy to get into and fun.

    Really, if you have access to a Quest, just try Moon Rider, select easy tracks, use punch mode, and you get some simple rhythm fun.

  • By being in VR they become really serious and hard to get into. I like my rhythm games to be Challenging but also casual enough for a group and party environment.

  • There are several rhythm games on the Oculus Go, and there's Moon Rider on WebVR and probably some others in addition to Beat Saber. So the genre is quite alive on VR.

    Not really my cup of tea, though I did enjoy playing a little Beat Saber and Moon Rider. It's more enjoyable IMO than console/PC/mobile rhythm games.

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