In honor of Rhythm Heaven Fever for Wii being released this week, I thought I’d list my top five favorite music games. Believe it or not, I didn’t like the Rhythm Heaven game on the DS very much for two main reasons. One, I didn’t like the flicking controls. I could never get the hang of them, and it seemed like there was a delay in how the game registered how you flicked the stylus, and a delay in a precise rhythm game is a big no-no. The other reason why I didn’t like it because it was too dang hard! Sure you could skip levels you had trouble with, but you never felt like you accomplished anything. And I SO wanted to like Rhythm Heaven, too, as it was made by the same folks who did WarioWare, and I love that series. That’s why I’m going to give Rhythm Heaven Fever on the Wii a chance, even though I didn’t like the DS game. Everyone deserves a second chance!
Speaking of upcoming rhythm games, there are a couple that are coming out (or have already), that I’d really like to try. One is (not sure if I’m spelling this right) Theaterhythm Final Fantasy. It hasn’t been announced for a US release yet, but I kind of hope it does. From what I’ve seen, it looks to adopt the more classic look of older FF games, which was the time I was into the series. Plus, FF music is generally always good, so having a rhythm game with FF tunes seems like a sure win.
Another music game I’d like to try is already out, and it’s called Groove Coaster from Taito. But it’s only for smarty phones and other smart mobile devices like iPad, which I don’t have. The reason why I want to try Groove Coaster is because they put songs from Arkanoid DS in it, which is great because the songs in Arkanoid DS were FANTASTIC, but nobody would know since no one played that game. But I did and I liked the songs so much I imported the Arkanoid DS soundtrack! I’d love to see Groove Coaster on the DS or something.
And before I get started with my top five favorite music games, I wanted to give a shout-out to other music and rhythm games that didn’t make the cut, but I still have respect for anyway. I guess you could say that PaRappa the Rapper started the whole music game genre (along with Dance Dance Revolution). I didn’t like playing PaRappa because I wasn’t familiar with the PlayStation button layout yet, so I had trouble remembering where the circle, triangle, square, and X buttons were. Plus I’m not too big into rap music. But I sure did like the look and feel of the game. It was more fun to watch than to play, and I think it would’ve made a great cartoon (actually I think it was in Japan).
Speaking of PaRappa, I have to also mention Major Minor’s Majestic March for Wii, because the characters were designed by the same person. Unfortunately, the game really sucked. But I had to try it anyway because it was a music game about being in a marching band, and I was in marching band in high school (I played bass trombone if anyone was wondering). You’d think with all my experience in music, what with being in band in school, taking piano lessons before that, and even taking some music history classes in college that I’d be better at music rhythm games. But I’m not!
And lastly, I’d like to give a small bit of recognition to Rock Band. While the companies that make this and Guitar Hero have oversaturated the marketplace as of late, you have to admit that playing Rock Band with a bunch of friends, or with your family, is a heck of a lot of fun. It just cracked me up when brother Jeff and his friends were playing Beatles Rock Band one time. They were making all sorts of funny comments! For example, while playing, one of them said, “You know, the last generation had The Beatles. And what does our generation have? Lady Gaga? There’s something wrong about that.” I also like LEGO Rock Band because it’s cute and silly, and it has more songs I like, such as Ghostbusters.
Cary’s Top Five Favorite Music Games
OK, finally, let’s look at my top five favorite music games! These aren’t in any particular order, although the ones I placed on top I tend to like more. So here they are!
Taiko Drum Master
This is a drumming game that is huge in Japan in both arcades and home consoles. You drum on a Japanese Taiko drum to the beat of the music. It’s kind of like the drum sections on Rock Band, except a lot less complicated (but still no less hard, just try the difficult Oni modes). It was so popular that Nintendo wanted a piece of the action, so they hired the makers of the Taiko games: Namco, to develop one of their own for GameCube. That’s where Donkey Konga came from! But the Taiko games were still better. Namco took a chance and released a Taiko game in the US on the PS2, but it bombed. Guess Americans would rather play a guitar than a Taiko drum (can’t really blame ‘em, though). But I loved it and now anytime a Taiko game comes out for a region free console like the PSP or DS, I’ll import it (and have reviewed them, too).
I think the two main reasons why I like the Taiko games so much is that, one, they have a lot of cute and colorful characters and graphics. And you know I like that stuff. The other reason why I enjoy the Taiko games is the variety of music. Rock Band is great, but you really only play rock songs (it’s called Rock Band for a reason). But the Taiko games have rock songs, folk songs, tunes from video games, classical, and many more. As a big fan of anything Namco, I also appreciated all the songs from Namco games, which is why I liked another music game called Technic Beat. Unfortunately, the imported Taikos have some J-Pop songs, too, which I’m not a big fan of. But the game is so much fun anyway that I don’t mind.
Samba de Amigo
Before the Taiko games came along, I think Samba de Amigo was my favorite music rhythm game. It was originally a Japanese arcade game where you shook maracas to the beat of the music and at different heights, but they brought it home to the Dreamcast even in the US. That’s one of the things that was so cool about the Dreamcast is Sega took a lot of chances with it. Guess it cost them in the end, but I enjoyed it at the time! Like the Taiko games, Samba de Amigo had plenty of bright and colorful cute characters, and a wide selection of peppy samba and Latin tunes. I still have my DC maracas under my bed! There is a Wii version of the game, but surprisingly, the DC one still works better. Really the only cool thing about the Wii Samba game is that they put Ulala in it.
Space Channel 5
And speaking of which, this was also a music game originally on the Dreamcast. Gameplay is a pretty basic Simon Says affair where you must repeat button presses in time with the music. Unfortunately I wasn’t very good at it, but boy did this game have style! Forget the post-apocalyptic future found in other games, I’d rather live in the obnoxiously bright future of Space Channel 5! That’s another thing about DC games is that they did exuberate a lot of style! And you can play Space Channel 5 and its sequel on modern consoles now, too! I also really liked the characters in the games, like the cute little Morolian aliens and Ulala was a neat lady character, too!
You might’ve not have heard of this PS2 gem, but it was released in the US under a company that Eidos started to released niche quirky titles like this and Mister Mosquito. In Mad Maestro, you play as a conductor for a silly orchestra that includes circus animals and aliens. In the game, a dot travels around four corners, and you have to tap the button for each beat, like a real conductor does. You have to watch out for tempo changes and held notes, too. This game was one of the few that used the analog buttons on the controller, as pressing them softly and hard would dictate how loud the orchestra played. I enjoyed this game for the quirky characters and classical tunes, but also because it wasn’t THAT difficult. I’m not too good at music and rhythm games, so it was nice to have one I could actually beat and unlock everything.
Elite Beat Agents
And finally is this DS gem. I was a little late to the party with this one, but once I finally played it, I understood what the big deal was. I know purists may say the Japanese version, Ouendan, is better, but you know what? Importing games is expensive so I’ll gladly take the changed US one. It was still pretty quirky with a wide variety of songs that I know (I’m partial to songs from the 80’s and 70’s myself). After this game came out, a lot of other companies made DS imitators of this gameplay style. I will say that ones that Natsume released, like Princess Debut and Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove, were actually pretty good for kids.
And that’s all I feel like talking about music games right now. In the comments section, let me know YOUR favorite music and rhythm games. Hopefully I’ll get Rhythm Heaven Fever soon, and maybe if I’m in a good mood I’ll write a review on it! Later! –Cary