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
Elite Beat Agents
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy