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What's a Rhythm Game?

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game based around the Final Fantasy series.

Image © Square-Enix
Definition: Rhythm games are video games that challenge players to keep time to a rhythm, typically a beat set by music. Rhythm games are part of an extremely diverse and popular genre, and gameplay can involve tapping one finger or moving your entire body. There have been several notable rhythm games released for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS.

Most rhythm games are essentially an evolution of the children’s game “Simon Says:” The game provides a beat, and the player must ape it as accurately as possible. In 1978, Milton Bradley released an electronic toy called “Simon” that requires the player to hit colored lights in a particular sequence. Simon is still popular today, and provides a basis for rhythm-based video games.

One of the most influential rhythm games is 1996’s PaRappa the Rapper for the PlayStation, wherein players need to help a rapping dog keep up with his teachers. PaRappa’s popularity resulted in a late 90’s rhythm game boom, including Konami’s Beatmania DJ simulator, and Dance Dance Revolution, a series of games that registers players’ movements via a dance pad and ranks them according to how accurately they move.

Two rhythm game series, Guitar Hero and Rock Band, enjoyed mainstream popularity through the mid-Aughts. Players kept time to licensed music with the aid of plastic instruments, which proved to be a fun party experience. This led to a glut of instrument-based titles, and the “fake instrument” rhythm sub-genre quickly fell out of favor. However, rhythm games in general still enjoy considerable popularity, even on portable consoles.

Notable rhythm games for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS include:

Guitar Hero: On Tour
Rock Band 3 DS
Rhythm Heaven
Elite Beat Agents
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
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