Rhythm Games, a brief history

You may have read that title and thought “What is a Rhythm Game?” Well, Rhythm Games are a genre of video games, usually that imitate instruments or dance movements, that has the player hit “Notes” in a specific pattern or a specific rhythm.

While Rhythm games have always varied in popularity, the players that have stuck with the genre have been able to achieve insane scores that were once thought to be impossible, such as the Soulless 4 Full Combo done by DarklyGH done months ago, and the recent Full Combo of the entire Soulless series done by FrostedGH. But where did this genre of games begin? Well, the beginning starts back in 1970s Japan.

The begining of this game genre is pretty comedic, In the early 1970s, Kansei Seiki Seisakushu created a rhythm-based arcade game that was designed by Kenzou Furukawa and produced by Kenji Nagata. According to Nagata, it was Furukawa’s idea for a game where you would lift girls skirts in time to rhythm, which was inspired by a 1969 Oh! Mouretsu commercial.

Up next is the 1978 game “Simon”, created by Ralph Baer and Howard Morrison, the game was simple, it used the “call and response” mechanic, where, where the game would use a series of tones and lights and had the user repeat them in the same pattern, increasing in difficulty and speed.

In 1987, Human Entertainments “Dance Aerobics” was released, it allowed players to create music by stepping on Nintendo’s Power Pad for the NES console, the game was published by both Nintendo and Bandai.

In 1996, the game PaRappa the Rapper which has been noted to be the first true Rhythm Game, as well as one of the first true music-based games. The game requires the player to press buttons in a specific order, a simple feature that would help shape the future of Rhythm Games, the game was released on the Playstation, the Playstation Portable in 2006, and later again on the Playstation 4 for the games 20th anniversary in 2017.

In 1997 the DJ-Themed Rhythm Game Beatmania was released by Konami in Japanese arcades, the cabinet had 5 keys and a rubber pad that emulates a vinyl record. The game also spawned MANY spinoffs, the game was later released on the Playstation, along with a DJ controller like the one in the arcade cabinet, the game was so popular it inspired Konami to change its Music Divisions name to Bemani.

After the success of Beatmania, the now recently renamed Bemani decided to experiment with other rhythm games, Releasing GuitarFreaks, a guitar themed game with a guitar themed controller, the game was never strongly marketed outside of japan, allowing Guitar Hero, a game I will be talking about later to be made. Bemani then went on to release Pop’n Music, a game where multiple colorful buttons were pressed, DrumMania, which featured a drum kit controller.

Dance Dance Revolution, a game alot of people know and love, was released in 1998, however unlike GuitarFreaks, BeatMania and DrumMania, DDR was highly successful both inside and outside of Japan. The game was played on a pressure sensitive mat and the mat was stepped on in an order shown in a 4 column area. Released in the same year with a similar concept, Enix’s Bust a Groove contains competitive one on one battles.

In 2000, Taiko no Tatsujin was released, the game combined traditional Japanese drums with pop music, the game was highly successful in Japanese arcades, the game was released on consoles in the west as Taiko Drum Master and the franchise continues to get new installments, most recently on the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, where on both consoles you have the option of playing on the consoles controller, or a peripheral Taiko Drum.

In 2001 Gitaroo Man was released, the game was based around a guitar playing protagonist, the games creator later created Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, a Rhythm Game for the DS that used the devices touchscreen controls. Unrelated to Gitaroo Man and Osu! In 2003 Donkey Konga was released for the Gamecube, the game was played on a set of Bongos and featured many songs from the era.

In 2005 Harmonix and the publisher RedOctane released Guitar Hero, a game inspired by Bemani’s GuitarFreaks, the Guitar Hero franchise spawned many spin offs, including a BeatMania type game called DJ-Hero. The genre of guitar based rhythm games has led up to the now popular Clone Hero game that has a massive community making charts for songs to this day, some notable players being Acai, UKOGmonkey, DarklyGH and FrostedGH.

Due to Repetitiveness I will not be talking about other Guitar Based Rhythm games and will only be talking about notable games.

In 2007, a game named Osu! was released for PC, the game is a compilation of many previous stated games, such as Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, Elite Beat Agents, Taiko no Tatsujin and BeatMania, the game still has a huge community that are incredibly talented, Some Notable players are Cookiezi, Vaxei, WhiteCat, SillyFanGirl, Jakads and Jhlee

In 2008 The Idolmaster Live For You! game was released, and In 2009 Hatsune Miku: Project Diva was released, both were primarily aimed at a Japanese audience, Project diva featured Hatsune Miku and other well known Vocaloid Idols.

And most recently, a virtual reality Rhythm game has been released, named BeatSaber, the game was released in 2018 and features light saber like controllers that you use to hit notes that fly at you at high speeds, even though the game has only been out for such a short time, the players in the game have managed to become insanely good in such a short amount of time, its truly incredible.