They’re Not “Music Games”, “They’re Rhythm Games”

At least that’s what Masaya Matsuura believes and I happen to agree with him. Please allow me to quote myself here for a moment. “It takes work to do good so we often do worse.” That’s not meant to denigrate anyone’s work, but just about any game in the genre has focused on rhythm or a free form style and that’s not exactly a bad thing but it was a contributing factor to the recent fallout of Rockband and Guitar Hero franchises in rhythm gaming genre.

Market flooding contributed to it also, but the games focused on the same type of approach to Music as a genre in gaming. Even DDR, Dance Dance Revolution, has the same type of emphasis on rhythm and goes after it in the same analog fashion as the other two titles. Recent hits like Just Dance, Dance Central and the Michael Jackson Experience chased after it in a manner that has arguably been the best combination of rhythm and free form approaches to the genre. Many rhythm games require a peripheral controller to play that has become a crutch to the genre. Peripherals are not new to gaming and are not a bad influence just for existing. Modern console gaming evolved from arcade games which normally used controls or controllers tailored directly to the game itself. Their various incarnations ranged from joysticks with flat buttons, to giant roller balls and even motorcycle replicas in Super Hang-On.

I love arcades, so inventive and crazy. Even bad games could be enjoyable due to their inherent social aspect.

Peripherals were designed for video games in order to provide an experience that a standard controller cannot provide. Music genre however, does not require peripherals. Titles like the 1996 cult hit Parappa the Rapper and a more recent experience like Meteos for the DS are two such examples. In fact, Meteos is more of a sound effects/harmony puzzle game. It takes a unique twist on puzzle games by requiring players to send blocks back up into the void from which they fall while in a dozen different stages that feature their own music tracks gravity (decent and rise of falling blocks). Each unique action on each stage has its’ own sound effect or chord attached to it that perfectly blends with the background music of that environment. The music design is superb enough to even affect the actual gameplay. Fast music has a more frenetic pace while the a silent tune will specialize in beeps and bleeps to be aural morse code. The game at its’ core is a puzzle game but the music design is tightly woven into the experience that if you were to remove it, it could not be considered the same game.

Above is a video of Meteos in action. Are there any games that you may have experienced that redefine the approach to music/rhythm games genre?

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