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NeoGAF's Essential Rhythm Games - 2013 Edition [Voting Phase]

So I noticed that kwiston and ViewtifulJC have been doing 'essential' threads on things like RPGs and FPSes.

I figured after our recent best rhythm game ever discussion, we should have a rhythm game variant!

(I've asked if kwiston is interested in helping do some slick banners, but if not, I'll doctor up on my own when the time comes.)

I've basically taken their rules, but made some variants(please don't sue me).

Voting Phase

Voting will be open for the next two weeks, ending on May 19th, 2013 at 11:59PM EST. Feel free to edit your votes until then, but use your original post instead of duplicating the list on a new post. After the voting phase, I'll tally everyone's picks and create an OP with summaries of the top games (along with full rankings for at least the top 50).

1. Each member can vote for up to 5 games + 2 honorable mentions. If you include 5 games or less on your list, I will count them all as regular votes. If you have more than 5 games on your list but do not specify which ones are honorable mentions, I will assume the first 5 are regular votes and the ones after that are honorable mentions. If you want to list more than 7 games (some users did in the RPG thread), put them under a second heading called "Unranked Honorable Mentions".

2. You need to vote for at least 3 games to qualify. The purpose of this thread is to highlight rhythm games that you think are essential or worth playing, not to boost the ranking of 1 or 2 of your favorites.

3. Votes are semi-weighted. This is done to avoid ties in the final list. All regular votes are worth 2 points and all honorable mentions are worth 1 point. Following rule #1, this means you can have up to 5 games that each receive 2 points and 2 honorable mentions that each receive 1 point. Hopefully this will help to break up the number of ties.

4. You can highlight 1 game on your list to receive 3 points. If you have an absolute favorite rhythm game or an underrated title that you feel deserves wider recognition, you can highlight it to receive an extra point. You can only highlight 1 of your choices and you can't highlight honorable mentions.

5. All sub-genres of rhythm games are eligible for voting. Votes can be for any title released any system(or PC) at any point in time prior to the time you post your list.

Much like in the FPS thread, I won't be picky about what is or isn't a rhythm game. If you want to vote for Rez or Child of Eden, go for it. They're made by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the man who created Space Channel 5. That's good enough for me. If it has an element of creating a rhythm or playing along to one, it's allowed. (A game that has a rhythm mini-game but is otherwise a totally different type of game, i.e. Yakuza 5, will not count. Rhythm gaming must be the primary genre.)

6. Back up your choices! No one is interested in reading a post that simply lists 5 games with no explanations.

This is a rhythm gaming thread, so post some music!

I highly encourage voters to include a few choice songs within their lists, ideally with links to youtube recordings or what not, i.e. Memory of Beach (DJ MAX Portable).

7. Use full titles for the games you are voting for. Tallying votes is a tedious process that is made more difficult when people vote for DJMP instead of DJ MAX Portable.

8. Votes for remakes, ports, and expansions of a game will be counted together with the original. Do not vote for the same game twice, even if you believe that the remake substantially changed the feel of the game (e.g. the PS2 port of Space Channel 5).

That said, feel free to vote for a specific version of a game (and explain why that is the best version). When I create the final list I will list all of the platforms that each game is available on and make note of substantial remakes/expansions in the game's summary.

9. In event of a game with multiple versions(i.e. DDR 5th Mix, Beatmania 10th Style, DJ MAX Portable 3, Rock Band 1/2), I suggest voting for the series, i.e. Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania IIDX, DJ MAX Portable.

If the games are wildly different, then you should vote for the game that you're most fond of, such as DJ MAX Technika instead of DJ MAX Portable if you prefer touch-screen. In this case and only in this case can different games within a series umbrella receive different votes. Rock Band 1/2/3 will count as a series vote, for example, whereas Rock Band Unplugged would count as a different game.

Here is a ballot template you can use:

1) Rhythm Game 1 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

2) Rhythm Game 2 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

3) Rhythm Game 3 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

4) Rhythm Game 4 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

5) Rhythm Game 5 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

Honorable Mentions

1) Rhythm Game 1 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)

2) Rhythm Game 1 - Explanation
Track Example (Game)


Feel free to modify the format if you want to include pictures or whatever.

Happy voting! I'll post mine soon.
I figured there'd be more interest. :( Ah well.

1) Space Channel 5 [Series] (Dreamcast/PS2)
Evila: Attack of the Perfect Reporter

Space Channel 5 has everything you could want in a rhythm game. Fantastic original music, choreography, unique gameplay, and above all, style.

2) Frequency/Amplitude [Series] (PS2)
Symbion Project - Freq Out
Chris Child feat. Melissa Kaplan - Shades of Blue

If it wasn't for Frequency, a little series of games called Guitar Hero and Rock Band literally would not exist. Not only was this Harmonix's foot in the door, it's still one of the most hardcore rhythm games ever made. Good luck mastering Symbion Project's all-out breakbeat madness on Expert, much less beating it.

Amplitude doesn't have the fantastic trance OST, but it does have a wider variety, and lots of great original tunes to back it up.

Besides, what other rhythm game can boast having a Slipknot track as a stage boss?

3) DJ MAX Portable [Series] [PSP]

3rd Coast - Memory of Beach
Clazziquai - Love Mode

Not only the most durable portable rhythm game series, DJ MAX are also considered the most essential imports on the PSP. With all sorts of original tunes, gorgeous background work, and charts ranging from casual to hardcore, DJ MAX has something for everyone.

4)Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! / Elite Beat Agents [Series] [DS]

Morning Musume - Koi no Dance Site
Earth, Wind & Fire - September [TC Moses cover]

Some rhythm games just keep the player interested in a beat. Ouendan/EBA also keep a story going at the same time, and might even instill some tears in the process.

Widely considered one of the most essential import DS games, whether you go import or local, you can't go wrong with iNiS' tapping masterpieces.

5)Beatmania [Series] [Arcade/PS2/PS1]

Akira Yamaoka - Heavenly Sun
Hideki Naganuma - Luv Can Sav U

Truly one of the OGs. Beatmania began it all in 1998, and spawned everything from Dance Dance Revolution to Pop'n Music to imitators like DJ MAX and o2Jam. If it weren't for Beatmania, rhythm gaming as we know it would be a totally different genre, if it even existed at all.

Honorable Mentions

a.) Pump It Up [Series] [Arcade/PS2/Xbox/PSP]

SHK - Native
Banya - Final Audition

Still the #1 game that keeps me going to arcades. Lots of musical variety, and both challenge & freestyle appeal.

b.) Gitaroo Man [PS2/PSP]

Flyin' To Your Heart

iNiS' classic strumming masterpiece. I consider the expert mode of this game to be the toughest challenge you will ever take on. If you can beat Born To Be Born expert, you can safely retire. You are a god.


Feb 19, 2008
I figured there'd be more interest. :( Ah well.
Problem with this thread as opposed to the others, is that there are just way fewer rhythm games than there are shooters or RPGs. That said, I'm not one to look a gift Essentials thread in the mouth, so here's my list!

1. Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan (Nintendo DS)
Maybe the best use of the touch screen on the DS, and still the most fun rhythm games ever made. Tapping, sliding, oh man I want another one of these so bad you have no idea.The only downside is that the game's budget only allowed for cover versions of the songs, but the game is so exciting you will not ever care.

2. Guitar Hero: World Tour (360/PS3/Wii/PS2/PC)
I know, there are probably better versions of the "plastic instruments" style of game out there, but this is the best one I have experience with, and the best choice for Wii owners the year it came out. Plus it had Beat It, so THERE.

3. Sequence
Made by Neogaf's own Feep, this game is essentially a rhythm RPG. Switch between 3 fields, and hit notes to cast spells, mitigate damage and regain mana. Music by Ronald Jenkees, mostly

may edit some more in later, have to decide if certain games count or not


Aug 5, 2012
I'll add pictures later.

1) Dance Dance Revolution [Series]

The rhythm game that has transcended pop culture and has even had its day in movies. DDR is a rhythm game that literally makes you move your feet to coordinated arrows on screen to progress through the song. Spanning hundreds of songs over many years, DDR has found itself in the Pantheon of rhythm games as king.

DDR Extreme - So Deep (Perfect Sphere Mix)

2) Pop'n Music [Series]

Cute in its presentation. Diabolical in its execution. This rhythm game series has players using a special 9-button control scheme to play notes in time with music not unlike Beatmania IIDX. With having 9 buttons to press, harder songs are almost an exer4cise in futility unless the proper skill is acquired. Definitely one the greatest rhythm games to exist.

Pop'n Music 18 - rottel-da-sun EX

3) The Beatles: Rock Band [PS3/360]

Now even though I feel Rock Band as a series is even more influential than that of Guitar Hero, The Beatles: Rock Band makes #3 on my list on bringing the magic and rich history of music that spanned the years of the Beatles career. From their beginnings in England to the famous rooftop concert and beyond, each song chosen for the game has been handled with the utmost care to maximize the enjoyment of the player. An amazing game for fans of the Beatles and Rock Band alike.

The Beatles: Rock Band - Abbey Road Medley

4) Beatmania IIDX [Series]

The grand daddy of them all. Elegant in its gameplay and not one drop of forgiveness for failure. Nothing more need be said.

Beatmania IIDX - Vanessa

5) Parappa the Rapper [PS1/PSP]
Oh Parappa. The story of the rapping dog who could. From a lesson in Karate with a kung-fu chopping onion to a grand finale on the big stage in front of the girl he loves, Parappa the Rapper blended simple controls with catchy music for an unforgettable experience.

Parappa the Rapper - Stage 2

Honorable Mentions

A) DJ MAX Portable [Series]

Often hailed as the red-headed stepchild compared to Beatmania IIDX, the Korean DJ MAX series actually holds its own against it's bigger cousin and does it in fun fashion.

DJ MAX Portable Black Square - Son of Sun


Mar 30, 2009
Cheektowaga, NY
1) Samba De Amigo (dreamcast)

Few have got to experience this crazy game in the arcades. Thankfully the home version on dreamcast with the maraca controllers does not disappoint. The game is weird, covered with a mexican/cinco de mayo/margarita color scheme and pepered with familiar spanish music(la vida loca, tequila) and odldy chosen classic sega songs(rolling start from daytona i shit you not)

Al Compas Del Mambo
Lazy Days-Sonic Adventure
"Let's Go Away"-Daytona

3) Rhythm Heaven Fever Wii

Wubba Dubba it's true that this has the best music in any game, music or otherwise.


3) Taiko Drum Master(PS2/Wii/psp/ds/3ds)

Another peripheral based music game, Takio Drum master covers a ton of genres. The japanese versions of the game focus on Anime, Jpop and game music. The lone us version has a piss poor selection of public domain songs and some top 40 hits.

Katamari on the Rocks
Cruel Angel's Thesis - 100% Oni

4) Guitaroo Man

The only good game to come out of KOEI.

Born To Be Bone

5) Parappa the Rapper

Amazing game, music, infuriating Controls.

Mooselini's Car Rap

Honorable Mentions

1) DDR Max 2 (PS2)

Dream a Dream


While music is a big part of the game.. I don't consider it a music rhythm game. Even though it is one of my top 10 favorite games.


Mar 11, 2012
My five votes
1) Space Channel 5
Space Channel 5 has to be my favorite Rhythm game to date. The funky beats, the amazing atmosphere, and lovable characters. The first game was great, but the second game was amazing with Purge. I still play Part 2 to this day (despite all the ports of Part 2, we still don't have Part 1 on anything past the PS2)

2) Rez
Rez wasn't my first foray into the Rhythm game genre, but it is my most memorable one. I random;y played this game at a convention the year the game came out, and I purchased the game the very next day. I will never ever forget this game. I still listen to the soundtrack for this game regularly, and on occasion hook my PS2 up to play it since I lacka 360 to have the sweet, sweet HD port of the game. (Please come to the PC already!)

3) Ouendan
My mind was blown when I first played this. Someone at a convention was playing it and as I passed him by, I saw the weird game he was playing and probably sat down to watch him play for a solid 20 minutes. It's such a wonderful game with inspiring stages. I'm not too familiar with any of the music in the game, but I love all of it even though. I really like the style of play also, which leads into the next game..

4) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
FINALLY. The beautiful music of Final Fantasy that I can enjoy in the style of a rhythm game in the spirit of an Ouendan game. I really can't stand the EMS, (Event Music Stage), but the other two variations, BMS and FMS, I love, love, love. I bought all the DLC each week, leading up to spending more on the DLC than I did the game. That says a lot. So much replayability. I have 60+ hours in this game, and I still haven't unlocked everything yet. It will stick with me for a while yet.
5) Gitaroo Man
How can this game not get mentioned? Gitaroo Man, made by Koei, out of complete left field. 10 stages, all different styles of music, and all of them amazing. Love the characters, love the music, love the everything about it.

Honorable Mention
1) Technic Beat
This game is actually a sequel to a rhythm game that never was released outside of Japan. It was made by Akira, but published by Mastiff in the US. It's a quirky game where you choose a character that has certain abilities. As the music plays, circles appear on the ground of the stage, in a 3/4/ top down view in tune with the music, you try to hit all the circles to make combos. It's a rather hard game, and I never see anyone talk about it, especially since it uses a TON of namco music randing from Dig Dug to Street Fighter EX. Some 70 songs to choose from. More people should try this game out.

2) Rhythm Heaven
A really on point rhythm game by Nintendo. Tons of mini games ala Wario Ware, but not as erratic. I love the style and difficulty that the game offers.


Aug 3, 2012
Pennsylvania, USA
I like PaRappa.

1) PaRappa the Rapper

The game that kickstarted the rhythm genre! Also features some of the most memorable characters in gaming thanks to some funky fresh beats, wacky situations, and hilariously awkward voice acting that makes every line extremely quotable.

Chop Chop Master Onion's RAP
PaRappa's Live RAP

2) UmJammer Lammy

Lammy is one of the weirdest games ever, I think. PaRappa in general is weird, but Lammy just goes overboard to the point where if you try to describe the plot you end up sounding like you belong in a mental ward. That said, this is what makes it great! And the music and gameplay are just as good as they were in the original game (except for PaRappa's version of Taste of Teriyaki... *shudder*), plus you can play using Lammy's guitar skills AND PaRappa's rapping making for the most content of any game in the series.

I am a Master and You (Lammy)
Fire Fire (PaRappa)

3) PaRappa the Rapper 2

PaRappa 2 apparently wasn't that well received when it came out, but I can understand why - it released with a price of $50 for a game that features 8 songs, doesn't change its gameplay in any meaningful way from the previous entries, and has a total playtime of about an hour and a half. However, I think it is easily the best PaRappa game. The story gets a little too "Lammy-like" at times (one of the scenes in the game features PaRappa and friends using weapons that fire sweets to defeat evil robots wielding ray guns that turn buildings into noodles... yeah) but the songs are best in the series.

Come A Long Way

I will probably edit this later with Elite Beat Agents and something else but that's all I have time for ATM.
Feb 22, 2010
Great idea cj_iwakura! Do the Patapon games count?

1.) Um Jammer Lammy

2.) Gitaroo Man

3.) Parappa the Rapper

4.) Bust a Move 2 Tengoku Mix

5.) TVDJ

6.) Space Channel 5

7.) Parappa the Rapper 2

8.) Bust a Move

9.) Patapon 2

10.) Vib-Ribbon

Lee Chaolan

Dec 21, 2012
I can't believe so many of you haven't played Bust a Groove! Gob Come On.gif

Anyway, I'll complete my list soon.

1) Bust a Move/Groove Series

2) Rhythm Heaven Fever

3) Space Channel 5 Part 2


Oct 16, 2011
The Great White North
1. Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan (series)

By far my favourite rhythm games and one of the three best series on the DS (third only to Pokémon and Ace Attorney in my book). Wonderful visuals, hilarious charm and infectiously fun gameplay are only small parts of what makes this series so great, and I could fill a book with what I love about these games, but I'll keep things concise for space's sake: I spent an entire summer S-Ranking every song in this series for a reason. They're in the upper echelon of not just music games, but games in general; and deserve every bit of praise they receive. Play. These. Games.

Scrafty's Choice Picks:

Okuru Kotoba (Ouendan 2)
The Anthem (Elite Beat Agents)
Ready Steady Go (Ouendan)

2. Rhythm Heaven Fever

Lordy, what a weird and endearing game. The third in a bizarrely awesome two-button-controlled rhythm series, this game capitalizes on what made the first two so great while at the same time making its own innovations and improvements. The songs are catchier, the visuals are more vibrant, and the humour is wackier, all of which contribute to the best entry in an already-amazing series.

Scrafty's Choice Picks:

Karate Man
Remix 10

3. Audiosurf

Maybe a bit of a controversial pick, but I just love this game so much. Riding a technicolour rollercoaster at your own pace while the soundtrack of your choice plays in the background? What's not to love?! I also love the wildly different playstyles of the different characters; each requiring a different skillset to be mastered. Combine that with several different difficulty tiers, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato, and baby; you've got a stew going.

Scrafty's Choice Picks: There aren't really any original songs in Audiosurf (at least that I've played), so I'll just post the three songs that give me the best Audiosurf experience:

L'Impeto Oscuro
Libera Me From Hell
Self vs. Self

4. Bust-A-Groove

"Style" is the one word I'd use to describe this game. The camera angles and dance moves still look pretty slick nowadays, and the songs fit their characters perfectly. This was one of my biggest timesinks on the PS1 for a reason.

Scrafty's Choice Picks:

Kitty-N's Song
Flying To Your Soul

5. Beatmania (Series)

This is one of those series which slowly grew on me over time. I played it for the first time as a ROM at summer camp back in the early 2000's, and disliked it due to its difficulty and relative blandness. I picked up the series again when it came to PS2 in North America, and began to love it more. Although it's tough to find more versions to play as most of them are Japan-exclusive, I really enjoy watching videos on YouTube of people much more skilled than I performing impossible feats of rhythmic deftness.

Scrafty's Choice Picks:

Metal Gear Solid Theme
Believe Again

Honourabe Mention #1: Beat City

It's unfortunate that this game is often decried as a Rhythm Heaven rip-off, because it's acutally pretty good. The biggest problem with it is the forced repetition of stages on harder difficulties, but it nails everything else. If colourful visuals and off-the-wall humour are your things, you should check this one out. It's worth the extremely small price of admission.

Honourable Mention #2: The Beatles Rock Band

Do I really have to explain this one? It's a version of one of the best rhythm games around based on one of the best bands around. What's not to love? Special shout-outs go to the Dreamscapes of I Am The Walrus and Sgt. Pepper's, 'cause both of those are the actual bomb.
Jan 9, 2011
it doesn't feel right to me to include rockband, which i'd consider more a music game due to singing and pro mode. but if people are gonna vote for it, then it's definitely my #1.

1. rockband
2. ddr
3. bust-a-groove

i might extend it later, but i think 3 is plenty. i tend to be biased towards rhythm games that associate more closely to instruments/dance. with that in mind, my choices are pretty self-explanatory without needing to go into further detail i think.


Hates quality gaming
Jun 8, 2004
OK, let's do this.

Choice One:
Beatmania IIDX (series)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
There are two types of video games: There is Beatmania IIDX, and there is everything else.
This is the single game that I have played the most in my life. I have basically played the game every day for the past ten years. I still have so much more that I can do.

I want to address three key points about this game which I think tend to get lost or not understood by anyone who hasn't played this game -

1) No Bullshit.
The only sound that you hear when you play IIDX is the music. There are no dings, bells, whizzers, pops, announcers, strikes, cheering, or anything other extraneous audible thing that you hear in the game which isn't intended to be part of the song. Each of these things might not stand out to you or be considered an issue by you in other games, but when you play IIDX enough and hear the music of these games independent of the game structure enough, you come to realize how much noise that the games pollute the music with and appreciate that IIDX does none of that.

The other major component about IIDX which is No Bullshit is the game's judgment structure. The standard pass/fail with 80% of gauge is arguably arbitrary, but it's universally applied to all songs, so the concept is clearly understood. Money Score has a weird algorithm behind it, so much so that it's basically irrelevant. Beyond that, everything is reduced to its basic element and clearly defined. The five judgment rankings to your accuracy is narrow enough to demand millisecond accuracy to get anything approaching a "perfect" score. EX points are 2 per Just Great and 1 per Great, and that's it. There's no bullshit Star Power to fall back on if you're close to failing.

2) Two minute drill.
The arcade heritage to IIDX demands that the songs have superfluous content cut. Songs are structured to establish and evolve their melody and theme in short order. The best songs have their best parts polished to shine, and the worst songs are mercifully over without languishing repetition.

Also, the amount of time it takes between you selecting a song in IIDX and playing the first note is usually much shorter here than in any other music game.

3) Start and go. (or: No Bullshit Part II)
Question - How much time do you spend playing your favorite part of your favorite game when you play your favorite game? If your favorite game is a JRPG and your favorite part of that JRPG is its combat, how much of your time playing it are you actually in combat? If your favorite game is an arcade shooter and your favorite part of it is a boss battle, how long do you need to play the game to make it to that boss encounter?

With IIDX, you can essentially start the game and immediately play your favorite song, or the most difficult song, or any set list of your making. Start game, select mods, choose song, go. Doing this does not require the use of a special practice mode or is otherwise an exact shortcut to what the normal game is - you can jump in and play a batch of 12*s and it's a perfectly legal way to play the game.

When I play IIDX, I spend 95%+ of my time actually playing songs, and the difficult ones at that. I don't have to endure easy songs to get to the difficult ones. I don't ever have to play any given song at all. I don't have to do much of anything to get to "the good part" of the game. IIDX is all "the good part".


The music? Any time I post a list, I agonize over what to choose on the basis of if my choices are too similar or if they're honestly good versus something which would be more applicable of a "guilty pleasure" label. But then again, few people ever quote any of my choices and respond to it, so I guess I should just say fuck it and put some up. Everyone who plays IIDX regularly has wildly divergent opinions on what songs are good regardless, so by all means find other IIDX songs if you think these choices are all total shit.

One per style, from 3rd up. No licenses.

03 - era (nostalmix)
04 - love will
05 - sync
06 - frozen ray
07 - traces
08 - thunder
09 - paranoia survivor max (couldn't find a good video of Breeding)
10 - hi school dream
11 - the hope of tomorrow
12 - 月光 ("moonlight")
13 - 嘆きの樹 ("tree of lamentation")
14 - snow storm
15 - 2 tribe 4 k
16 - turii panta rhei
17 - red by full metal jacket
18 - the door into rainbow
19 - love b.b.b.
20 - ascalon

And I haven't gotten into the fan made stuff which will keep the game going even after Konami ends IIDX.

And I want to mention that Beatmania III holds a special place in my heart too. Tweaking is something that I only scratched the surface of what I could imagine to do with the music. When you get full combos going and all the levels of lights flash around you, the machine becomes alive. It's something I'll never forget.

And I should mention that IIDX does have a shortcoming, in that it's rather unfriendly for group play.

Choice Two:

Rock Band series.

What IIDX has in depth, Rock Band has in width.

For a totally serious and engrossing music game to play on the level of IIDX, Rock Band does fall short in a few areas of comparison, mostly in the ways that it handles chart modification in terms of note arrangements and speed. Control of note scroll speed is crucial to these kinds of games, and while RB does graciously utilize constant BPM scroll speed, it does little else to offer the kind of control that IIDX does.

Also, it should be pointed out that RB3 had some omissions and alterations from RB2 which are still baffling, and I don't refer to the song roster. Character customization and animation come primary to mind.

But in the grand scheme of things, complaints like this are largely irrelevant in the context of a go-to party music game. In its lifetime it has managed to accumulate a library of songs wide enough that most anyone can find a handful of choices that they'd enjoy to play.

And now the part I struggle with:
Choice Three.

I honestly have no idea what I feel strongly enough to put here where something immediately springs to mind.

For anything that's properly key sounded, I prefer IIDX to it. I've never cared about Pop'n. For anything that's the glorified QTE style of music game (i.e. not keysounded), Rock Band does it better than Guitar Hero or anything else that has come before or since. Touch screen bullshit does nothing for me. Dance games are something I've never cared about, be they panel or waggle based. Rez and Child of Eden are not rhythm games. Parappa and SC5 are cute enough, but it's been more than a decade since I've played either and I have no need to go back to them. Games which generate content from audio data tend to be really bad - sorry Vib Ribbon, but it's a total crap shoot if your stages actually match the music.

So what do I say here? GFDM? I mean I liked those games the few times I've played the newer ones and I played my share of Guitar Freaks 1 and 2 on PS1. But saying that this is my third choice for an "essential rhythm game" seems rather weak.

I'll stick with that for now, but I'm not very happy with it.


Aug 16, 2008
I really haven't spent enough time with the genre to participate here but I though I'd post some thoughts.

I remember trying to like Rock Band but finding the repetitive style the game presents gameplay to you with off putting(scrolling notes ALL THE TIME) and I've never been a fan of essentially lining up the notes on screen as they happen and managing multiple button combos (reminds me of when I played clarinet). It fees like muscle memory to me. I don't think I'd like Beatmania. At least Parappa was short, simple, and more varied visually.

My favorite so far has been the Rhythm Heaven series. No hand gymnastics. Just rhythmic timing with few inputs and a ton of graphical variety. I spent a lot of time Perfect-ing all of Rhythm Heaven DS and that game essentially has only four inputs maybe! Tap. Flick. Tap-Hold. Scratch. That is it and yet the difficulty of the mini-games could still fluctuate a lot. Loved it. Rhythm Tengoku GBA is a bit easier but follows the same concepts.

The series also makes great use of tension in sound to let the player know when an action is complete or needs to be performed (like filling the robots and shooting ghosts.). You learn the games and always remember how to play them even without instructions later (the Remix levels are a great demonstration of that). The pressure to perfect something when it appears for a limited time is the most interesting added challenge I've experienced in a game. You can perfect it whenever but if you want your emblem you have to do it NOW. For whatever reason I haven't played a whole lot of Fever despite getting it Day 1. It'll happen though. One day.

Space Channel 5 is the other series I like. Colorful, silly, and again didn't tell you exactly what to push as you needed to push it. Its monkey-see-monkey-do and in longer sequences keeping the rhythm in you head internally is key. I just got Part 2 a few days ago but only played 3 stages. So far its as silly as ever and the pace seems faster. Mixing up the gameplay with parts where I'm playing a guitar or don't get as clear audio ques(instead having to relate to the visuals for the upcoming sequence) are nice changes.

I have to give Elite Beat Agents another go. If I recall correctly I bought it one day but didn't find it very fun and shelved it. I don't remember being thrilled with the music itself either.


Sep 19, 2012
United States
1. Bust-a-Groove series
A staple of my growing-up life. Great characters and music, with the right amount of difficulty. What more do you need?

Kitty-N Theme
BAG2 Kelly Theme
BAG2 Heat Theme

2. Project Diva
Portable rythm bliss. Poured a lot of hours into this, and it's kept me sane many a road trip. It's also difficult to a really good, "I gotta get better at this" point.

Rolling Girl
Dream-Eating Monochrome Baku
Secret Police

3. Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents
OUUEEENNDAAANNNN!!!! Cause of circular scratches on my touch screen, no regrets.

Samurai Blue
Ready Steady Go

4. Pop'n Music
I am HORRIBLE at this game, but I love it all the same. Quirky tracks and memorable characters make it #4 on my list.
Homesick Pt.2&3
Oshama Swing

5. Taiko no Tatsujin
Another fun portable game. A lot of DLC, but an enjoyable series nonetheless.

Hatsune Miku no Gekishou
Family Don-Don

Honorable Mentions:

Rhythm Heaven
EEEHH, SUGOI DESU NE! A fun time-passer. I haven't played it extensively enough, however.

Ringside/Air Rally

Parappa the Rapper
Fun concept, and I like the music in the first one. I am however, worse at this than at Pop'n. Horribly worse.

Cheep Cheep Chicken


Feb 7, 2007
Sure, why not. Only beat a dozen rhythm games in my life so feel free to discount my terrible uninformed opinions (one day I will play Gitaroo Man, Otocky, Space Channel, Samba, Taiko, ugh).

1. Def Jam Rapstar

This game helped me understand white people. Seriously, while everyone else was under Rock Band's spell, it took this low budget but specifically curated for me release to gain some empathy haha. It's the music of course! Watching as the game accurately graded me for perfectly riding the beat and matching my cadence to my favorite classics is a thrill that never got old.

2. Rhythm Heaven

My buddy was supposed to bring back the GBA version for me during a recent Japan trip but picked up Rhythm Heaven Gold by mistake. It's a testament to how much I loved the game that I didn't even really mind. For me this game is all about the side eye you get from these guys when you mess up.

Makes me laugh every time. Also, TENSION.

3. Um Jammer Lammy

One of those extremely rare times when I enjoy the iterative improved sequel more than the groundbreaking original. The R&B remixes were just that good. I know I enjoy rhythm games for the wrong reasons, but with aesthetics this wonderful who cares! Parappa is beloved for a reason.


Oct 21, 2012
Kalamazoo, MI
1. Frequency/Amplitude/Rock Band Unplugged- These games created the basis from which rock band and guitar hero were designed. They were fantastic with great eclectic mixes of music, an interesting dynamic and an addicting race to score points. I'm lumping Rock Band Unplugged in there because it played much like a Rock Band skinned version of Amplitude and was made by the same developer. Blink 182's "The Rock Show" was my favorite track. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJqU3Q_UTI4
2. Elite Beat Agents/Ouenden- A great rhythm game that brought interesting mechanics to the music in a way that felt fun and engaging. I dare you not to at least tear up when you play "You're the Inspiration" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtpNWaxwjsw

3. Sound Shapes- A game where you literally build a song as you collect pick-ups and the music becomes more intricate in each level. I would kill to see more songs with lyrics being done as well as Queasy Games handled "Spiral Staircase" by Beck.

4. The Beatles RockBand- Rockband with my favorite band and interesting interpretations of their music in the form of dreamscapes. It made me wonder what other songs would look like through dreamscapes and showed how well Harmonix understood what the Beatles meant to the world. The sunny field in Here Comes the Sun is now how I envision it whenever I hear it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oenwBKzkcFQ

5. Lumines (if it doesn't count, pick an honorable mention) An addicting game that revolves around turning falling blocks into squares successfully melding hypnotic beats and pure puzzle perfection. It's hard to find any decent footage of the game because it's on the vita and not many people have the kits necessary to record so have my favorite song on the soundtrack of Electronic Symphony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovsjkYytGOU

Honorable Mentions:
Space Channel 5
Um Jammer Lammy


Oct 26, 2007
Maryland, USA
Guess I should chime in...

1) beatmania IIDX - at this point it's one of the longest lasting series still running, and has the most replayability by far just in its mechanical difficulty. I think this one's been mentioned before so I'll just link the most recent video on my history for this one.

2) pop'n music - might be seen as IIDX's kid brother (despite actually being older) but it's certainly no slouch. The large controller and the sheer amount of physical movement needed to clear at higher levels make it a very different beast, wrapped up in a nice and cuddly package. A healthy amount of licenses and more upbeat songs make up the roster.

3) Dance Dance Revolution - One of the few that probably need no explanation. The series has seen a revamp in Japan in recent years that largely hasn't carried over off-island, but this game's status as many people's gateway drug into serious rhythm gaming can't be denied.

4) DJMAX TECHNIKA - A newcomer compared to the others on my list, but probably the best example of brand evolution I've seen, casting off its copycat roots to make something truly unique.

5) jubeat / jukebeat - With an international name change for somewhat obvious reasons (the j is supposed to be silent!), one of Konami's newer music games is also one of their most accessible. It's also one of only two music games still receiving international support in the form of an iOS game, and the licenses on both sides of the pond are nothing to sneeze at.

Honorable Mentions

1) Guitar Freaks / Drummania / GITADORA - I'm sure I skipped an iteration here, but this remaining long-running entry (albeit originally existing as separate but linked games) from Konami is one of the first to attempt to emulate existing instruments, long before Guitar Hero or Rock Band was a sparkle in Harmonix's eye.

2) Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- - The portable entries are more of a cash cow than a music game, but despite technical faults it achieves what it sets out to do, bringing a whole new audience to the genre with unparalleled amounts of fanmade content to boot.


Oct 27, 2007
Songdo, South Korea
Uh, I hope I'm in on time!

I've split up my releases from their series', as I felt that certain aspects of gameplay or execution were lagging in the other games even with the overall similar gameplay.

1) Rhythm Tengoku (GBA) - The original and the best! Rhythm Tengoku perfected the formula from the outset, leaving its sequels to fumble with poorly responsive controls and weaker overall microgames.

2) Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (DS) - The original and the best. The killer soundtrack that was very melodic and brilliantly integrated with each scenario meant that the first Ouendan was admired far more by me than its sequels.

3) Jam with the Band (DS) - Offering a simple but compelling way to play different instruments in songs, JwtB also featured brilliant scaling difficulty levels to help learn the game and provide the player with a much better learning curve than many others of its type.

4) Child of Eden (PS360)
5) Rez (PS2)
6) Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (3DS)
7) Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii)
8) Vib Ribbon (PS1)
Results are tallied. No volunteers, so you'll be subject to my banner making skills. Quake with, uh, fear.

Fun facts:

  • 17 DJs voted.
    A total of 33 different rhythm games were nominated.
    The winner will drop some jaws.
    There is a two way tie for second place.
    The third place will also be a surprise.
    There is a two way tie for fourth place.

Any last minute song recommendations or quotes, hit me with them now.

I did away with the three point thing because not everyone used it. Only two points for the primaries, 1 point for the honorable mentions.