Rhythm Heaven (DS)
Sometimes the simple things are the best way to go about a rhythm game. With its straightforward design, intuitive controls, and a wide variety of beats to choose from, Rhythm Heaven has “all of this and more…” Released in 2008 in Japan, and 2009 worldwide, Nintendo once again proves that they are among the best at finding fun and new ways to play on an established genre. Simplicity is the name of the game with Rhythm Heaven as everything from gameplay to the adorable art style clearly shows. With just a flick on the touch screen, you can build robots, or by holding down the screen can make a trio of singers belt out the jams.
While each of the many games are pretty short in length, every one in the collection is a blast, as well as being engaging enough to make you repeat the stages in order to get the perfect score. After a road trip, be prepared for the songs to get stuck in your head for hours or the image of screaming tiny cartoon men to make you smile after setting the game down. Criminally underrated for when it came out, Rhythm Heaven is still cheap online, or you can get the 3DS release of Rhythm Heaven Megamix, which hosts some of the same games, as well as others from the Rhythm Heaven series.
– Anthony Spivey
Rocksmith 2014 Edition
With clever marketing, Rocksmith 2014 Edition made itself out to be a different kind of rhythm game. It told us that it wasn’t just a game. It was a way to legitimate way learn the guitar. To further emphasize with this, instead of cheap plastic guitar with a couple buttons, it gave you a cable to plug in your own actual guitar.
The crazy part about it is that it actually worked. With a mechanic that added more notes to songs as you got better until you were finally playing the full song, the game offered it’s own take on how people learn an instrument. Combined with a virtual tutor and plethora of mini-games that teach everything from scales to chord memorization, and this game somehow bridged the gap between engaging gameplay and real-life application.
– Derek McCurry
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme
While pretty much any DDR game is absolutely solid, DDR Extreme snags the top DDR spot despite it not necessarily being the highest rated. This is because this DDR machine outlived pretty much all others, with most arcades choosing this over DDR Max 2 or DDR Extreme 2. The reason is because DDR Extreme was an amalgamation of all the greatest hits of the DDR games and other Bemani titles.
DDR fanatics danced to hits like Cartoon Heroes, Butterfly, Daikenkai, and V (for EXTREME). It misses a few points for not having Dream a Dream by Captain Jack, but overall this DDR reigns supreme over the others.
– Heather Johnson Yu
Taiko Drum Master
This fantastic little rhythm title gets largely ignored by Western audiences for a few different reasons – it required new peripherals, it served a niche audience, and it was released on the tail end of the PS2’s life (2005 – PS3 was released in 2006). But the game definitely deserves a spot on this list due to its uniqueness and its ability to fuse a traditional Japanese instrument with Western hits. Players tapped the taiko to tunes like Killer Queen (Queen), William Tell Overture (Rossini), and even the Dragonball Z theme song (American version).
These days, you can find the game in random Japanese arcades and on eBay for a forklift full of money, cementing the game’s value as a rare gem.
– Heather Johnson Yu