When a video game looks like it’s going to be one thing, but ends up being something else, do you feel tricked, or excited at the prospects of digging in and enjoying something unexpected? If you answered the second one, you are going to love these games, as they start off as one thing, and end up being rhythm games! That’s right, you get to flex your musical muscles while also taking part in a game of a different genre altogether.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
This game is quite new, as it’s still in alpha, and it’s actually the one that made me decide to seek out other rhythm games that are more than just scrolling icons timed to music. This game fits in perfectly with the current popularity of roguelikes, because it features all of the same tropes — dungeon crawling, permanent death, upgrades that carry between runs, and procedural levels. Those (admittedly played out) gameplay elements aside, Crypt of the Necrodancer also features rhythm elements that end up dictating the entire way a run through the dungeon flows.
The music becomes a completely fundamental part of the game, as attacking and moving is done to the beat. If you lose the flow, you lose your multiplier, which decreases the amount of resources you get to spend on upgrading your character. Moving on the beat completely changes the way you play a game of this type, which ends up making it feel like no other roguelike you’ve ever played. If you like RPGs, roguelikes, and music games, you absolutely need to play this one. For more on this game, check out our look at the future of music games now that we’ve left behind plastic instruments. This one is only available on PC.
Patapon is a fantastic game that just didn’t get the love it deserved because it was released for the PlayStation Portable. People who played it generally loved it, but it almost certainly would have done better if it was released on a more widely-used console like the Nintendo DS or a home console like the PS3 or Xbox 360.
Patapon is a god game with heavy strategy and rhythm elements. You control a tribe of Patapon warriors, and in order to control them, you issue a series of rhythm-based button presses. It’s a lot like playing Rock Band, but with an end goal of actually making your guys perform strategic actions. It’s a really interesting take on this type of game, you might find it impossible to avoid getting the little jingles (Pata, Pata, Pata, Pon) stuck in your head.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
This game is one part rhythm game, one part RPG, and a whole bunch of fan service for players who adore this series. It takes some of the beloved soundtracks from the games, adds in some fights and touch-based rhythm timing and creates an experience that is unlike anything else in the Final Fantasy franchise.
Every stage is unique, though the overarching idea of tapping the screen to the beat of the music persists. Still, there’s enough variety to keep you coming back, and whether you want to play it on iOS or 3DS, you’re in for a Final Fantasy treat, both from a music and gameplay perspective.
Rez is a classic, and one of the games that really showed us just how diverse a music-based game could be. At the same time, it took the on-rails shooter, a genre that saw a resurgence the PlayStation era, and made huge changes to it. Gone are the days of simply blasting wave after wave of aliens with a light gun. In Rez, we were looking at brain-melting color pallets and gorgeous abstract visuals. Throw the visuals on top of the fact that killing enemies alters the music playing in the game, and you have a mind-blowing experience.
Rez saw release on the PlayStation 2 and the Dreamcast originally, but don’t worry if you don’t have access to those retro consoles, as it eventually saw an Xbox 360 release as well. It’s a game that is 100-percent worth going back to, even if it’s just to check out the crazy visuals and awesome soundtrack.
What Rhythm Games Do You Love?
If pulling out your plastic instruments and playing Rock Band just isn’t the way you want to experience your music games, but you don’t want to leave the genre behind, these games have you covered. Each of them disguises their music game roots by mixing in some other genre. Whether you like roguelikes, Japanese RPGs, shooters, or strategy games, there’s a game here to suit your tastes.
What is your favorite rhythm game that doesn’t look like a rhythm game at all? Hit the comments section below and let us know!