The top 10 music games of all time
Sometimes it seems that the very idea of combining of certain entertainment franchises has been a longstanding inevitability since the very inception of entertainment itself. Professor Layton and Pheonix Wright, Marvel vs. Capcom and of course Batman vs. Superman – Okay let’s not talk too much about that last one!
Whilst the idea of video game properties combining internally seems generally sound (wink, wink), every so often the beauty of music finds itself a home on both our home consoles and PCs, challenging us to keep to the beat, rock as we roll and even in some instances, shake our maracas. If you’re someone looking for the cream of the crop when wanting a healthy dose of music as well as video games, our top 10 music video games list has got you covered:
Not strictly a traditional music game, but one that definitely features a beating heart at its core, Patapon was a PlayStation portable exclusive that ended up being much more addictive and charming than it had any right to be. For hours upon end you’ll command an army of tribal beings known as the Patapon, keeping to a beat and rhythm that never fails to be satisfying.
The Beatles: Rockband
Although we’ve generally managed to avoid licensed games on this list, it’s not every day that a music game comes along and offers players the chance to play along with 45 of the greatest songs ever written. The Beatles: Rockband was just one example of a game that focussed on solely one artist, yet this version without doubt is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of both the care and attention that was shown to it – Höfner 500/1-inspired bass controller? Yes please!
As you make your way through the Beatles’ lauded career, it becomes immediately apparent just how influential and versatile their repertoire of songs actually is, there really is no way you can’t enjoy playing through this colorful and enthralling music video game.
Samba Di Amigo
The Wii as we all know suffered greatly as a platform due to the overabundance of such classics as Carnival Games, Ninjabread man and Family game night, thank god then that there was not only a game which made excellent use of the Wii’s motion controls but an all round excellent music game in the remake version of Samba Di Amigo.
Okay it’s simply another music game that asks you to match your movements to the on-screen patterns, but it’s visually tantalising and flamboyant art-style made what would otherwise be simply another generic music game, one that made for a great social experience every time.
Love it or hate it, Karaoke was always going to find a way to invade the gaming space eventually, it just so happened that franchise to do so would come in the form of PlayStation’s SingStar. Aiming to reinvent traditional Karaoke by introducing a plethora of game modes that include ‘pass the mic’, ‘star maker’ and more, SingStar never failed to be a good time to play with friends (especially when tipsy).
Parappa The Rapper
Choosing to focus more on rhythm rather than strictly music, Parappa the rapper was an early PsOne game that tasked players to rap their way through six unique and creative stages by executing each command with precise timing. If only for the game’s character design and art-style alone, Parappa the rapper earns its place as one of the platforms best, yet it’s challenging gameplay made it wildly too addictive to try and gain that “cool” level ranking.
Introducing something both for the purists and beginner guitar players out there, Rocksmith upon its initial release may have shared similar functions to a traditional music game but has since developed into more of a platform that thankfully understands it’s need not to outstay it’s welcome. Whereas rivals Guitar Hero and Rockband felt the need to saturate the market with numerous releases each year, each Rocksmith game felt meaningful and offered something new.
The biggest draw for those wanting to learn to play guitar using Rocksmith, was the still-amazing fact that you could plug in your own and play almost right away. Using the game’s virtual fretboard and intricate learning tools, players could no longer just simply imagine that they were a rock god, instead being given the ability to potentially become one.
Dance Dance Revolution
Who would have thought that in the late 90’s those magnetic dance machines from your local arcade that never failed to draw in a crowd would soon find its way into our own living room? Dance Dance Revolution with it’s foldable dance mat did just that, promising to help users get fit as well as gamifying a way for us to dance to all of our favourite pop and dance tunes.
The objective is simply, to tap your foot down in one of four directions in either front, back, left or right in the aim of getting the highest score possible – not that most of us cared, we were just happy to have a game experience that introduced something a little bit different to our homes. Complete with a generous 16 tracks, many hours were spent upstairs tapping the bedroom floor to the dismay of anyone below, thanks Konami.
Guitar Hero may have brought the guitar to the party, but enter Rockband to bring everything else. Taking the concept its rival franchise had already set in place, Rockband was the music game that gave you the tools needed to create your own social band with friends, albeit with a little less polish. Whether on guitar, bass, drums, vocal and even keyboard later on in the series, each song featured in the game let everyone feel like a meaningful member.
Since the franchises release players have made over 100 million downloadable song purchases, truly enough to classify the series as a “phenomenon” and undoubtedly not only one of the best music games, but one of the best party games ever released.
Setting the template for the various music pop culture influences to come, Amplitude was the original “catch a track” music game from Harmonix that would eventually earn somewhat of a cult-classic status amongst diehard fans of the genre.
In some ways Amplitude placed more emphasis on stressful, fast-paced gameplay rather than having a focus on having fun whilst catching the beats, requiring you to slide along six running tracks instead of an easy one. Amplitude is impressive largely because it’s a music game about management that is fun, and now thanks to the kickstarted 2016 remake everyone can enjoy it’s revolutionary gameplay.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
Pretty much the only reason any plastic guitar peripherals still plague our homes to this day, the Guitar Hero franchise singlehandedly launched the modern day video game concept of rocking out in the living room with your friends, making us feel like our very own Matt Bellamys and Stephen Tylers (at least in your own household).
Whilst the original PS2 games initially introduced this novelty concept, it wasn’t until the third game that the franchise truly hit its stride and popularity, for the first time featuring original tracks by the actual artists and still placing a large emphasis on the actual rock genre. With a killer playlist that boasts everything from DragonForce to The Killers, Guitar Hero III never failed to make us feel like we could master that Les Paul controller.