There’s a lot of talk about how first-person shooters get your adrenaline going. But honestly, nothing gets me more pumped (and more competitive) than music games.
There’s something about accomplishing actions perfectly in time with the music that just thrills me. As a bonus, you don’t have to be a competitive player like me to get into rhythm games. If you can keep a beat, playing a rhythm game is a great way to dip your toes into gaming. Rhythm games are also usually more kid-appropriate than other games, so they’re a great way to share a musical moment with your kids.
Below are some of my favorite rhythm games.
Audiosurf won me with one phrase: Ride your music. It’s a rhythm game that lets you input any track you want—your entire music library is up for play.
The game converts the rhythm of your music into a track that you can ride. It’ll be faster or slower depending on the speed of the song. In my favorite gameplay mode, Mono, you pilot a spaceship down the track dodging grey blocks and picking up colored blocks on the beat. When you combine three or more blocks they disappear and give you points—the more blocks you match, the more points you get.
In other game modes you can strategize which colors of blocks you want to pick up for the biggest combos. There’s even a co-op mode, where each player controls half the board, and you have to coordinate to get the correct blocks.
The best part, and the worst part, is the leaderboards. Audiosurf will compare your score on three levels: Global, Local, and Friends. Friends is self-explanatory; you can see what your friends scored on each track. Local shows you players in your area, and Global compares you to players all over the world. For me, this turned a fun game into a lively competition. I will play the same song over and over again if it means getting on the Global leaderboard—especially if I notice I’m only a few points from the top.
Audiosurf is available on Steam for $9.99, and Audiosurf 2 is on Steam Early-Access right now and is totally playable.
2. Jungle Rumble
It can be hard to find quality games in the hustle and bustle of the app store, so I’d like to point everyone towards Disco Pixel’s Jungle Rumble. An iOS game that was released in April 2014, Jungle Rumble puts you in charge of a tribe of monkeys trying to retake their land from an enemy tribe.
You have to tap the monkeys in time with the beat to move them. As the game progresses, things get more complicated. You’re taught faster ways to move, how to throw coconuts at enemy monkeys, etc. It gets pretty complicated, and each level requires a careful assessment of the obstacles ahead. I like Jungle Rumble because it doesn’t underestimate the skill of mobile gamers. It’s a genuinely challenging game!
It also looks great, with its matte, bright colors and adorable monkey characters. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t like monkeys.
3. The “Shake” Games
Korean pop might still be a niche interest, but many Kpop bands have growing Western fanbases. That’s why I’m so glad that dooub.inc has made its Shake games available in the App Store and in the Google Play store. If you don’t know where to start, my personal favorite is Super Junior Shake, but 2NE1 Shake and Big Bang Shake definitely have the most challenging songs.
There are several Shake games out there, each one corresponding to a different Kpop band. That band’s songs are available as playable tracks. You have to tap the notes as they reach the bottom of the board. It can get really complicated. There are several difficulty levels. On top of that, you can change the speed of the notes (up to four times faster), as well as mirror the notes (not recommended) and hide the bottom of the board.
It’s very easy to get into Shake, but one word of caution: the games definitely encourage you to spend money. The game itself is free, and you are able to play the short version of two songs. These songs swap out every week, so eventually you can experience all the content. However, you can also buy song packages. In most games, this means three or four whole songs for $2.99-$3.99. Some of the games let you buy whole albums to play for around $9.99. Unfortunately, it all differs from artist to artist.
Shake is one of those games that appeals directly a fan’s heart. Not only are the songs incredibly fun to play (even the free-to-play short versions), but you also collect virtual trading cards as you finish songs. On the Extreme difficulty level, it’s hard not to feel super-cool as your fingers fly across the screen, hitting note after note at lightning speed.
4. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians
Beatbuddy uses music as part of the game environment. It’s one of the most creative and aesthetically pleasing examples of a rhythm game that I’ve seen recently. You play as Beat, a tiny blue aquatic fellow on a mission to rescue his sisters.
The music in Beatbuddy seeps in with subtlety at first. The creatures in the underwater world you’re crossing each make up part of the music—as well as the puzzles you need to solve. So at first it’s sparse, with only bass drum anemones, followed by hermit crab snare drums. The puzzles and the music both get more complex as the levels progress. Fire-shooting snails add strings to the soundtrack, and bulbous jellyfish groove to the beat.
It’s a really beautiful game, and when you get into a rhythm while playing it feels fun and fluid. The hand-painted backgrounds add depth to the underwater environment; sometimes parts of the scenery loom up in the foreground, and you feel as if you’re peering at your character through a coral reef. The music, created by several composers, is what brings it all together though. It ranges from jazzy to techno, and you’ll definitely want the soundtrack before the game is over.
5. Crypt of the Necrodancer
Crypt of the Necrodancer is another game that does my favorite thing—that is, it lets you play with your own music. It’s a roguelike dungeon-crawler, which means for better or worse, you only get one life as you make your way through the dungeon. Every move you make in this game has to be on the beat. You tap the keys in rhythm with the song that you’ve uploaded to move and attack monsters on the beat. If you have a dance pad that will hook up to your computer, you can use that as a controller instead—tapping forward to move and doing combos to attack. It’s a really creative melding of genres, and I absolutely love it.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is available on Steam Early Access for $14.99.