Rhythm Action

3 09 2009
One criticism of music based games is that they are all the same. Activision’s constant interation of the Guitar Hero
franchise has simultaneously popularised rhythm action games and yet ensured that gamers have grown bored of the genre
within just a small number of years of it’s dominance at the top of the sales charts. With so many music games out
there, it’s time to explore a few of the best alternatives to RockBand, what they are, how to get hold of them, and if
they’re worth your time.
Beatmania –  DJ Hero may be a sure hit if the continued sales of Beatmania are anything to go by (in Japan at least). A
DJ turntable game from Konami focusing on lining up samples to dance music, J-Rock and awkwardly aged pop classics.
Released primarily for the Playstation and PS2 the game plays out very much like Guitar Hero, the player hitting
‘notes’ when they pass a specific line as they descend from the top of the screen. A perfect title then for players
wanting a similar but different experience to Guitar Hero. Notably, many of Konami’s rhythm action games follow a
similar structure of play, including guitar driven game pioneer Guitar Freaks where, arguably, all of this interest in
music games has arisen. Obtain the European version first (it’s cheap and easy to get hold of) to see if you like
Beatmania’s stylings, then if the mood takes you, mod your aging, unloved PS2 and import the rest from Japan and the
United States.
Dancing Stage – The original ‘make a tit of yourself infront of your mates’ simulator, Dancing Stage is a pop culture
icon now, seemingly having conquered the arcade scene the world over with it’s anyone can play attitude and easy to
learn, difficult to master difficulty curve. It’s simplicity is it’s greatest asset certainly, even those with little
musical knowledge (or knowledge at all) know their lefts and rights, their ups and downs. The skill needed quickly
ramps up though, so whilst anyone can step to the earlier tracks, only hardened veterans with hundreds of hours of
practice can achieve the illusive AAA rank at higher levels. Featuring a cheesy but furiously fast selection of tunes,
Dancing Stage is like Betty Boop having rough sex with Ron Jeremy; in places it’s cute, in places it’s weird but
ultimately it’s hardcore all over. Those wanting to try their hand (or, more accurately, their feet) at Dancing Stage
should find a copy of the game no problem, but the real trick is getting the right play mat. Try it out at an arcade
first and if you really like it splash out on a really great quality, £80 stage to play it on your last generation
console of choice.
Parappa The Rapper – Perhaps responsible for sparking interest in music games in the West and released by quirky
developer Nana On Sha, Parappa’s story is one of a rapping dog that has just ‘gotta believe’. You could be forgiven for
dismissing it as just another weird game from the East, but it’s far more than that, it’s a well constructed, very
accessible music action game with a strong if bizarre plot and some of the most memorable, characterful tunes to grace
the humble PSX. Sequelised for the PS2 and re-released for the PSP, it’s easy to get into Parappa’s world to see what
started this rocking revolution, but what’s best is that there’s no need for another plastic peripheral in your life,
it utilises the Playstation controller to it’s fullest, requiring a different kind of gaming dexterity.
Elite Beat Agents (Ouendan) – Similar to Parappa The Rapper in terms of it’s play structure but not in it’s actual
mechanics, EBA features an organisation of male cheerleaders setting out to right the social wrongs of a colourful
alternative to the real world. What most people don’t give EBA credit for is it’s fairly powerful plot. It’s fairly
irreverant and it certainly isn’t Shakespeare, but towards the end the developers try some interesting narrative
techniques you wouldn’t expect from the average music game. Luckily it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to get hold of a
copy of the Western release, but Ouendan (the Japanese original with J-Pop soundtrack) is slightly more expensive and
slightly less prevelent in the game shops of the British Isles. Still, the DS is region free so importing shouldn’t be
a problem, and the entirely stylus driven gameplay transends language, culture and age; anyone at all can, and should,
experience this musical classic.
Rez – A music game, but with the traditional mechanic of rhythm action reversed. Instead of timing your button presses
to specific notes, Rez makes you create the soundscape, rewarding your musical talent with stunning polygonal neon
explosions. You see Rez is also a rail shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon, but it is the music that drives the
player forward, the sleek presentation and technical glitchy trance giving way to a synaesthesia experience still
unparalled today. Having received a high definition update, the next gen version is a must buy for serious music fans,
but if you have a little cash kicking about, it’s worth investigating the Dreamcast and PS2 iterations. The less said
about the optional vibration controller though, the better…
There we have it then, a few choice musical cuts from video gaming’s back catalogue. Know any more quality titles that
deserve a mention? Why not leave them in the comments section below?

Rhythm Actionby xeroxeroxero

One criticism of music based games is that they are all the same. Activision’s constant interation of the Guitar Hero franchise has simultaneously popularised rhythm action games and yet ensured that gamers have grown bored of the genre within just a small number of years of it’s dominance at the top of the sales charts. With so many music games out there, it’s time to explore a few of the best alternatives to RockBand, what they are, how to get hold of them, and if they’re worth your time. 

BeatmaniaBeatmania –  DJ Hero may be a sure hit if the continued sales of Beatmania are anything to go by (in Japan at least). A DJ turntable game from Konami focusing on lining up samples to dance music, J-Rock and awkwardly aged pop classics. Released primarily for the Playstation and PS2 the game plays out very much like Guitar Hero, the player hitting ‘notes’ when they pass a specific line as they descend from the top of the screen. A perfect title then for players wanting a similar but different experience to Guitar Hero. Notably, many of Konami’s rhythm action games follow a similar structure of play, including guitar driven game pioneer Guitar Freaks where, arguably, all of this interest in music games has arisen. Obtain the European version first (it’s cheap and easy to get hold of) to see if you like Beatmania’s stylings, then if the mood takes you, mod your aging, unloved PS2 and import the rest from Japan and the United States.

Dancing StageDancing Stage – The original ‘make a tit of yourself infront of your mates’ simulator, Dancing Stage is a pop culture icon now, seemingly having conquered the arcade scene the world over with it’s anyone can play attitude and easy to learn, difficult to master difficulty curve. It’s simplicity is it’s greatest asset certainly, even those with little musical knowledge (or knowledge at all) know their lefts and rights, their ups and downs. The skill needed quickly ramps up though, so whilst anyone can step to the earlier tracks, only hardened veterans with hundreds of hours of practice can achieve the illusive AAA rank at higher levels. Featuring a cheesy but furiously fast selection of tunes, Dancing Stage is like Betty Boop having rough sex with Ron Jeremy; in places it’s cute, in places it’s weird but ultimately it’s hardcore all over. Those wanting to try their hand (or, more accurately, their feet) at Dancing Stage should find a copy of the game no problem, but the real trick is getting the right play mat. Try it out at an arcade first and if you really like it splash out on a really great quality, £80 stage to play it on your last generation console of choice.

Parappa The RapperParappa The Rapper – Perhaps responsible for sparking interest in music games in the West and released by quirky developer Nana On Sha, Parappa’s story is one of a rapping dog that has just ‘gotta believe’. You could be forgiven for dismissing it as just another weird game from the East, but it’s far more than that, it’s a well constructed, very accessible music action game with a strong if bizarre plot and some of the most memorable, characterful tunes to grace the humble PSX. Sequelised for the PS2 and re-released for the PSP, it’s easy to get into Parappa’s world to see what started this rocking revolution, but what’s best is that there’s no need for another plastic peripheral in your life, it utilises the Playstation controller to it’s fullest, requiring a different kind of gaming dexterity.

Elite Beat AgentsElite Beat Agents (Ouendan) – Similar to Parappa The Rapper in terms of it’s play structure but not in it’s actual mechanics, EBA features an organisation of male cheerleaders setting out to right the social wrongs of a colourful alternative to the real world. What most people don’t give EBA credit for is it’s fairly powerful plot. It’s fairly irreverant and it certainly isn’t Shakespeare, but towards the end the developers try some interesting narrative techniques you wouldn’t expect from the average music game. Luckily it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to get hold of a copy of the Western release, but Ouendan (the Japanese original with J-Pop soundtrack) is slightly more expensive and slightly less prevelent in the game shops of the British Isles. Still, the DS is region free so importing shouldn’t be a problem, and the entirely stylus driven gameplay transends language, culture and age; anyone at all can, and should, experience this musical classic.

RezRez – A music game, but with the traditional mechanic of rhythm action reversed. Instead of timing your button presses to specific notes, Rez makes you create the soundscape, rewarding your musical talent with stunning polygonal neon explosions. You see Rez is also a rail shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon, but it is the music that drives the player forward, the sleek presentation and technical glitchy trance giving way to a synaesthesia experience still unparalled today. Having received a high definition update, the next gen version is a must buy for serious music fans, but if you have a little cash kicking about, it’s worth investigating the Dreamcast and PS2 iterations. The less said about the optional vibration controller though, the better…

There we have it then, a few choice musical cuts from video gaming’s back catalogue. Know any more quality titles that deserve a mention? Why not leave them in the comments section below?

Advertisements

Actions

Information

4 responses

3 09 2009
antman

Nice one xero, I enjoyed that.
Have you ever played Frequency or Space channel 5?
Other legitimate music games before it became viable to dress a controller up as a £30 plastuc guitar.

7 09 2009
xeroxeroxero

I certainly have, Frequency and Amplitude are both fantastic! Space Channel 5 is a pretty cool game too, but something about the visuals just didn’t appeal. Don’t get me wrong I think j-pop-cutesy-space-ladies are appealing, it just didn’t pop for me.

8 09 2009
Phizzy

Why still refer to it as ‘Dancing Stage’ when even our new local versions are being called DDR now, like in the rest of the Universe. Why did they ever change the name in the first place?

8 09 2009
xeroxeroxero

You’re quite right, my apologies, the series is now known as it’s original Dance Dance Revolution in the West. I couldn’t find why they changed their name for Europe, but my educated guess is that at this time Japanese culture just wasn’t as prolific (or cool) as it is now, Hello Kitty hadn’t really left a mark and Pokemon had literally just been released in the UK. Perhaps Konami were keen to do a Roy Walker to capitalise on (in English speaking territories) an unproven franchise by referring to it as simply as possible. It’s still not uncommon to change Japanese names to more English friendly ones, Elite Beat Agents for example, literally translated from it’s original Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan means Hey! Fight! Cheer Squad. Sounds like a Ubisoft Kidz game… You are right though, I prefer DDR any day of the week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: