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10 Music/Rhythm Games To Play While We Wait For Rock Band 4

by Justin Mikos on Mar 23, 2015 at 07:40 AM

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Rock Band 4 won’t be coming out until sometime this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait that long to play some great music/rhythm games. Here are 10 of the best to play while you wait for Rock Band 4.

Hatsune Miku Project Diva F and Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd (PS3, Vita)
The Hatsune Miku Project Diva games are some of the best modern rhythm games regardless if you are a fan of vocaloid music. The rhythm game at the heart of Project Diva couldn’t be simpler in concept: you hit button prompts in time with the music to play each note. The secret is in the execution; these games feel remarkably good to play. Both Project Diva games are visually appealing, especially since there is lot of variety in the colorful and well-produced music videos. Its enthusiasm for Hatsune Miku is infectious such that it is almost inevitable to become a fan of Miku as you play through it. The second game is much harder than the first, so I recommend starting with the original if you are a newcomer to the series.

Audiosurf (PC)
Audiosurf may look like Rock Band as you travel down three lanes in a car, but the experience is quite different. Audiosurf takes songs from your music library and lets you race through them on wavy tracks like a roller coaster. You need to guide your car to collect and match three similarly colored blocks in order to get points. There are leaderboards for every track ever uploaded, so you have endless competition to overcome. 

Rhythm Heaven (DS) and Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)
Both Rhythm Heaven games are brutal in the strict timing they require, but their strange minimalist aesthetics and weird humor pulls you back in. Each game offers dozens of different challenges such as harmonizing with your partners as the third member of a choir, a karate game where you have to punch obstacles thrown at you, and even a guitar game. The controls couldn’t be simpler; there are only three inputs: tapping, holding, and releasing your button or stylus. After you master a set of stages, a remix stage mixes four disparate games together to give you a true challenge.

Crypt of the NecroDancer (PC)
Crypt of the NecroDancer mixes 2D roguelike dungeon crawling with rhythm gameplay. You can only move your character and attack if you time your actions correctly with the beat of the music which becomes increasingly harder as the BPM of songs increase. By bringing back diamonds from the dungeon you can buy permanent upgrades for your character so you will be more successful on your future attempts. In addition to a mouse and keyboard, you can play the game with a controller and even a dance pad if you so choose.

HarmoKnight (3DS eShop)
HarmoKnight looks like an endless runner in that you have to dodge obstacles as they appear before you. Instead of offering randomly generated courses, HarmoKnight offers a series of levels whose obstacles are fixed because by clearing them you are actually playing notes in a song. It’s a fairly easy music game to play; it’s forgiving and you can treat it as more of a platformer if your rhythm game skills aren’t too advanced. If you enjoy HarmoKnight and want more of a challenge, Bit Trip Runner similarly melds platforming and rhythm gameplay in a more complex and difficult (and sometimes more satisfying) way.

Check out the next page for Elite Beat Agents, Patapon, and more…

Elite Beat Agents (DS)
The Elite Beat Agents are a group of secret government operatives who assist people in need by inspiring them with their dance moves. Most of the stories are wacky, such as helping a movie director reignite his filmmaking passion or defending Earth from an alien menace, but there is one stark exception set to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” that is emotionally impactful for many. Bubbles appear on the bottom screen of the DS and you need to tap them when circles fully enclose around them and sometimes you need to drag a ball across the screen. The design of EBA and its Japanese predecessor Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was so solid that many rhythm games on the DS copied its design.

Patapon (PSP, Vita)
Patapon mixes rhythm gameplay with real-time strategy elements. The game casts the player as an unseen god that beats the drums of the Patapon to guide them to victory against enemy armies. By tapping out specific patterns along to the drum rhythm you can order your Patapon to attack, defend, and much more. If you enjoy it, there are two sequels that continue the tribe’s journey.

Vib Ribbon (PS3, Vita)
Vib Ribbon tasks players with navigating an obstacle course generated by the music from your own CD collection. There are four basic obstacles to overcome: a block, a loop, a wave, and a pit that correspond to four buttons on the controller. The basic challenge is made more complicated as two obstacles are frequently combined to form a hybrid obstacle that requires you to hit two buttons at once.

If you’re curious to see Vib Ribbon in action, we looked at it in an episode of Replay.

Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Curtain Call (3DS)
I don’t think Final Fantasy Theatrhythm is a great rhythm game per se due to the touch controls not being precise and elegant enough, but it does boast one of the greatest soundtracks of all-time. Curtain Call has over 220 songs from the main Final Fantasy games and many of its biggest spinoffs. There are over 80 songs to download via DLC that even expands the reach of the soundtrack to Square Enix’s full RPG catalog like The World Ends With You and Chrono Trigger. You should especially check out Theatrhythm if you are a Final Fantasy fan.

Rock Band Blitz (PS3, Xbox 360)
Rock Band Blitz is a spinoff of the Rock Band franchise that is similar to Harmonix’s Amplitude. Like Amplitude, you have to hit buttons to play each instrument before jumping lanes to another one, but it is a little easier since it only uses two buttons on each lane instead of three. The game shipped with 25 tracks, which you can import into Rock Band, and additionally all of your Rock Band songs and DLC work with Blitz. Playing Blitz is a good way to reacquaint yourself with your Rock Band library short of digging out your old plastic instruments and praying that they all still work.

Honorable Mention: Sound Shapes (Vita, PS3, PS4)
Sound Shapes is more of a platformer with great music than a music/rhythm game in its core campaign, but I’d feel remiss not mentioning it. As you grab the collectibles, new beats are added to the music, so you literally build the music for the stages as you progress. It’s a relaxing game to play and going after trophies in the extra hard mode is enjoyable.

What are some of your favorite music games to play? Be sure to share in the comments below!