What Ever Happened to Rhythm Games?

I remember in my teenage years’ rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were massive. We’d meet up all the time and bust out the guitars, grab cool plastic drums and then pick some poor fool to do the singing parts. I spent probably far too much time mastering the various songs in Guitar Hero 3 on expert. I even saw my time to shine at University by impressing the ladies – pretty sure that’s how drunk me remembers it. They then just seemed to gradually disappear.

I mean, I get it. The kit was expensive and once you had hit keys or pads in time to a song what else are you going to do? All the good songs had been done either through the base games or the millions of downloadable tracks anyway. I do sort of miss them even though I doubt I’d actually play them anymore.

While partly because I’m older and slower than my teenage self, it is mainly due to time. I don’t have a summer holiday free to strum my plastic guitar like 15-year-old me. I don’t even get to see my friends as much as I would like either. So it is unlikely I would want to fork out the amount these games required back in the day.

But wait, I know what you’re going to say. “Guitar Hero Live only came out a year ago. The genre still lives!”. And to that, I’d say “Psssh”. Guitar Hero Live barely registered on my radar because A. The controllers looked way too confusing, B. It was just more of the same, and finally C. The reasons above as to why I don’t think I’d play it anyway. So, why am I complaining if I’m never going to touch these games again? Well first I’m not complaining – how dare you – and second, the genre has evolved, and now we have amazing replacements for Guitar Hero and Rock Band in the form of games like The Metronomicon and Crypt of the Necrodancer.

Neither game tries to recreate the good old days of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Instead, they try something new. Crypt of the Necrodancer is a cross between a roguelike and regular rhythm games. Moving in time to the music builds your combo, but you also need to defeat monsters that are gradually closing in on you. Doing this well is really hard, but super satisfying. The Metronomicon is similar to its plastic guitar wielding predecessors, but you control 4 characters in a fantasy battle party. Each member has different abilities and by matching the symbols in time to the music you can defeat monsters and look good on the dance floor – a dream come true.

I think I’m glad that we are seeing new forms of rhythm games that go outside the old box. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are like those old rock bands who you think it would be good to see live again, but you realise what you’re watching a bunch of old men who look like they might drop dead at any minute.

This article was originally published on GamerTimeUK but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.

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