Looking back over this game today, I can’t imagine what would have initially attracted me to osu!, because I’ve always been terrible with mouse-heavy games and I’ve never been a fan of J-pop or K-pop. That being said, I’ve somehow been addicted to this game since the first time I played it.
If you’ve played Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, or any other rhythm game in that genre, you know that it feels completely different from any other gaming experience. When music and rhythm begin to control your gameplay, it’s just something that eventually becomes hard to pull yourself away from. You slowly begin to learn these songs, get better at them, and one day you’ll find yourself humming along to a song that you once hated – all because you’ve mastered it on a video game. osu! is no different.
osu! is freely available on Windows and OS X. I’ve yet to try it, but there is also an iOS version available on the ModMyi Public Cydia repository. First worth appreciating is that this entire game has been practically managed by a single developer for years. Others have made contributions and assisted along the way, but it’s been mostly a one-man show. It’s always been free and it’s received consistent updates for years. This project has been handled extremely well and cared for.
The gameplay in osu! varies from what mode you’re playing. The standard mode requires intense accuracy with the mouse, where you’re following after blips and sliders that appear along the screen with the music. The course that comes along with each song is called a “beatmap,” and players can make their own.
The video above shows osu!’s main gameplay mode on a very, very tame difficulty. osu! also has many other gameplay modes: osu!mania, Catch the Beat, and Taiko are the rest. Of the three, Taiko is the most popular. If you’ve ever played StepMania, it’s quite similar in some ways.
Here’s a Taiko gameplay video for comparison:
osu! has thousands of beatmaps for each gameplay mode, and you can find plenty of them on the official website. Playing a new beatmap is as simple as downloading it and launching the file. osu! should automatically open and handle the file.
To me, one of the most impressive parts of osu! is how the community is integrated within the game. There are plenty of different multiplayer modes, such as co-op and head-to-head, and there is even a complete ranking system with online profiles for each user. I’m nothing close to impressive, but here’s a snapshot of mine:
There are individual leaderboards for each and every beatmap on all game modes. The client is beautiful and smooth and osu! honestly functions like as much of an MMO as any other. The community is extremely deep, they are passionate about the game, and it gets very, very competitive.
As players progress and reach milestones, they are announced through the in-game global chat. Players who achieve rank #1 on any map receive recognition and are broadcasted to the thousands of users online at the time. osu! is one of those games that, just by playing it, can sharpen your accuracy with the mouse and reaction time to practically make you a better all-around gamer.
I used to regularly play Counter-Strike: Source, and before booting up Steam I’d run through a few osu! beatmaps just to wake myself up.
The online ladder shows some real dominance from the Asian players, which is pretty natural as osu! caters to genres of music most popular in this area. Don’t be put off by that though, as there are beatmaps for literally every type of music.
Give osu! a try if you’re on the fence about it. There is a mode for everyone, keyboard or mouse. You can also even play osu! on a tablet. It’s honestly pretty invigorating and exciting to play through a map several times and see your progression. Eventually, you’ll get comfortable with certain maps and make it a goal to run through it with a perfect “SS” score.
Download the game and let me know what you think. Do you know of any other games like it? Let us know in the comments!