Rhythm video games at one point in time used to be insanely popular. Titles such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Dance Revolution have gone on to be high-sellers in the video game market, selling millions of units through the latter half of the 2000s (and beyond).
Not only that, but rhythm games have been critically acclaimed games as well. While these eleven games have their own unique style, it’s what they offer that makes them stellar in the eyes of video game critics.
11 Elite Beat Agents – 87%
An international counterpart to the Japanese release Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, Elite Beat Agents follows three government agents dispatched by Commander Khan. Unlike most government agents, however, these men in black instead rely on dance moves to encourage those in need of help to overcome whatever challenges they’re faced with.
Elite Beat Agents has fifteen licensed songs (and three bonus tracks) for the government agents to dance to, as the individual stories get sillier and sillier as the game wears on. This award-winning Nintendo DS title has gone on to win multiple awards in 2006, garnering praise for its gameplay and humor.
10 DJ Hero – 87%
DJ Hero was released in 2009 and was intended to be a spin-off title to the Guitar Hero series. It boasts a soundtrack of 100 individual songs, with 80 of them having been remixed. The gameplay is based on a typical turntable, where the player has to adjust fades and scratch the turntable by pressing buttons.
DJ Hero has been commended by critics for how fresh it is, especially compared to its sister series Guitar Hero. The turntable-based gameplay is noted as well, with the difficulty curve helping the player hone their skills as a DJ master.
9 Crypt of the NecroDancer – 87%
Crypt of the NecroDancer looks like a dungeon crawler game on the surface, except it only has a rhythm component to it. The main character, Cadence, must move and attack to the beat as she navigates through a crypt in the search of her missing father.
Much of the praise for Crypt of the NecroDancer has gone to the soundtrack, which was composed by Danny Baronowsky. Most critics admire the game’s originality, and how well it meshes rhythm gameplay with a roguelike dungeon crawler to make an almost perfect combination.
8 Samba de Amigo – 89%
Don’t let the game’s title fool you – as opposed to traditional samba music, Samba de Amigo instead features mainly Latin pop songs. Regardless, it has the player shake maracas around to the beat, and at the right height. The better the performance, the more folks that the game’s star, Amigo, will attract.
Compared to other rhythm games, Samba de Amigo is often noted as being very unique. Many critics enjoy the game’s addictive gameplay, and for being a fun title on the sadly forgotten Dreamcast console. Sadly, though, maraca controllers are the only way that one can truly enjoy Samba de Amigo.
7 Dance Dance Revolution – 90%
The PlayStation port of Dance Dance Revolution plays just like the arcade version, but only with a few new kinks added to the mix. Aside from new music tracks, it has two new modes not included in the original – an Edit Mode and an Arrange Mode.
Dance Dance Revolution is viewed as a defining title for its genre, being the first music game to make the player move their feet to the rhythm. Its fun and addictive gameplay have made it a favorite to most video game critics.
6 Guitar Hero – 91%
The first Guitar Hero game has a very simple premise. The player has to use a guitar-based controller, as they play rock music. Thirty rock songs are featured in this game, spanning from 1967 to 2004.
Guitar Hero is well received by critics, with many of them being huge fans of the classic soundtrack as well as the Gibson SG-based guitar controller. The game’s status as a sleeper hit helped jumpstart the Guitar Hero series that would go on to dominate the music video game landscape for a foreseeable future.
5 Rock Band 2 – 92%
Rock Band 2 takes what the original had, and improves upon it. Along with improved controls, the game comes with multiple instruments and cooperative band gameplay. The downloadable content is out of this world, as over a thousand songs can be downloaded.
Critics don’t see Rock Band 2 as an entirely new game, but rather as a title that polishes and improves upon things that were in the prequel. Rock Band 2 is deemed a more enjoyable experience for gamers, with how many songs and game modes it has.
4 Guitar Hero II – 92%
Thanks to the rousing success of Guitar Hero, its sequel Guitar Hero II came out a year later in 2006. The original gameplay is retained, as new note combinations and multiplayer modes are added. There is even a training mode for players to practice certain song sections.
Much like the original, Guitar Hero II is a success both commercially and critically. Critics enjoy the aspects of the game that were worked upon, such as gameplay mechanics and replay value, although they find that the new game modes and heavy soundtrack leave a lot to be desired.
3 PaRappa the Rapper – 92%
PaRappa the Rapper is greatly considered to be the first true rhythm game. With its rap-inspired gameplay and a witty storyline to go along with it, it follows PaRappa as he raps his way through several stages in his attempt to win over Sunny Funny.
Critics find the songs in the game to be quite catchy, even if the lyrics are a little wacky. The animation has gotten praise as well, with the paper-thin character design and 3-D backgrounds making for an eclectic combination. Perhaps the only knock on PaRappa the Rapper is how short it is.
2 Rock Band – 92%
Harmonix used to produce the Guitar Hero games, at least until lit was purchased by MTV Records. Once Neversoft became the new developer, Rock Band was later conceived – being the first game of what would be a high-selling and influential video game series.
Rock Band allows up to four players to play together and rock out, as they use instrument-based controllers (and even a USB microphone). Multiple gaming publications have gone on to praise this title, calling the game experience fun and the co-op gameplay rather rewarding. The game’s single-player mode is seen as a downside, however.
1 Rock Band 3 – 93%
Rock Band 3 improves upon what Rock Band 2 already established, featuring new instruments and vocal harmonies found in Rock Band spin-off titles. It has a Pro mode, which mimics the playing of real instruments, as well as a MIDI adapter for electronic drum kits and keyboards, making it one of the best co-op games available at the time.
Not only is Rock Band 2 seen as better than its predecessor, but it’s also considered a landmark title for rhythm games. Critics adore how ambitious the game is, and how the Pro mode helps players learn how to play real instruments. The addition of the keyboard is also seen as a plus, in regards to expanding the range of Rock Band’s music collection.
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