Missy Elliott once opined that ‘music make you lose control“, but what about music making you lose your controller? The following music video games prove that yes, music has a place in gaming life other than your standard soundtrack. These amazing music games are fun, infectious, often a bit silly, and will make you nod your head. Here comes the countdown in 5, 6, 7, 8…
The Beatles: Rock Band
OG Rock Band is an incredible amount of fun, but when it comes to the most captivating, unique, and even emotional take on the franchise, I have to give it to the Fab Four. By narrowing and specifying, Harmonix delivered a rich and comprehensive game full of obviously beautiful music and surprisingly beautiful visuals. Plus, to get the most out of it, you should play with your homies; in other words, you should get by with a little help from your friends.
Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock
Before Rock Band introduced the concept of several plastic instruments, Guitar Hero perfected the art of the plastic, well, guitar. I love these games because of, again, their specificity; when you focus only on one thing, you tend to do it incredibly well. They’re also quite challenging, so if you can rock out a tune on expert mode, you earnestly feel like an expert, even if the amount of time it took you to master it could’ve been spent learning an actual song on actual guitar. I give the edge to the third installment for its diversity in material and incredible inclusion of DragonForce’s epic “Through The Fire And Flames“.
PaRappa The Rapper
”Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind!” “I gotta believe!” “Step on the gas, now turn to the left!” These mantras (and, uh, driving instructions) are positive reinforcements I think about a lot, and it’s all thanks to the wonky charms of PaRappa The Rapper. The game’s mechanics are simple — just press your Playstation buttons in time with the music, and your dog avatar starts rapping. Yet it heightens to bizarre places, thanks to increasingly difficult (and funky) tunes and a beautifully silly sense of humor. If you like this one, check out the criminally underrated spin-off UmJammer Lammy.
I’m not a huge techno fan, but good gravy, do I love it in the context of Amplitude. In this game, you are a spaceship that shoots lasers at circles in time with the most bumping “unn-tss” techno tunes available. On top of this, the visuals are unsettlingly trippy and psychedelic. By the end of a level, my senses are overloaded, I have a bit of a headache, and I can’t wait to start playing the next level. Originally released on Playstation 1, Amplitude got a fancy HD remake on Playstation 4, so download away, next-gen gamers!
Dance Dance Revolution
When I go to an arcade, to this day, Dance Dance Revolution is the first game I look for. The structure is deceptively simple — just stomp your feet on one of four arrows in time with the arrows on the screen. Yet in practice, it’s an out-and-out workout; it’s impossible not to feel sweaty after a game. I love this game so much that as a kid, I had the home pads in my basement, and literally duct-taped them to the floor so they wouldn’t slide away, and I still can’t do “Paranoia” on the hardest level.
Look, I’m not here to get into why our anthropomorphic monkey friends suddenly took interest in playing latin jazz-influenced tunes with bongos. I’m here to play latin jazz-influenced tunes with bongos. And holy bananas is it fun. Your bongo controllers have two drums and a microphone to pick up claps, but if you’re in the need for a silly game hack, here’s one: you don’t have to clap into the microphone for it to register as a move. You can scream, say “Bloink”, dictate a letter to your prison pen pal; it takes it all. I have the fondest of memories playing this game with three of my homies as a kid.
Space Channel 5
If you’re a news reporter investigating aliens who are forcing hostages to dance, what would you do? If you answered anything other than “dance and shoot people with a laser gun in time with some funky music”, I don’t want to know you. Space Channel 5 is a delightful game that traffics in retro-futurism in the most fun way since Epcot’s Tomorrowland. Plus, it features a cameo from Michael Jackson that was not eventually shelved, unlike his participation in Sonic The Hedgehog 3.
Which game gets you grooving? Which one hits nothing but sour notes? What did we miss? Give me a follow on Twitter, but make sure you hit the follow button in time with “Cotton Eye Joe“, otherwise, it doesn’t count.