Rhythm Games: Feel the Beat to Win the Game!

11 minutes read
Sometimes it seems like rhythm games are only getting more popular

Have you ever felt a beat infect your body? Are there times you find yourself mindlessly tapping a tune or humming along to a song? If so, rhythm games are for you.

These browser, console, and PC games have become popular with players around the world over the last 20+ years. Indeed, ever since the release of classics such as Dance Dance Revolution and PaRapper the Rapper, gamers have been moving to the beat.

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Now, with virtual reality (VR) bringing a new dimension to the genre and old hits being remade, it’s time to examine the phenomenon of online rhythm games.

We’ll guide you through the nuances of the genre like a well-trained dance partner. We’ll show you the best moves to make (i.e. the top games). Then it’s your turn to strut your stuff.

So, if you’re ready to embrace the music and find your inner beat, here’s a rundown of the top ten rhythm games online.

What Are Rhythm Games?

Rhythm games are musical offerings where the aim is to move your feet and/or fingers to the sound of a beat. The technical definition of console and PC rhythm games is: “an action video game that challenges a player’s sense of rhythm.”

The main way this challenge manifests itself is dance. For example, if you’ve ever been to an amusement arcade, you’ll have seen games such as Dance Dance Revolution. The aim of this game is to tap your feet in time with a beat.

However, while dancing dominates the rhythm games genre, it’s not the only challenge you’ll face. Some of the best rhythm games test your ability to find the beat by playing a computerized instrument. The Guitar Hero series is a great example of this.

Singing games are also part of the genre. PaRappa the Rapper was the first singing rhythm game. Developed by NanaOn-Sha and released in 1996, the aim was to rap in time with the onscreen characters.

Other hits, such as Sing Star, built on this and, subsequently, became some of the top rhythm games online.

Rhythm Games Greats: People Who Can Beat the Beat

There are some people who can find a beat and keep time better than others. Of course, every rhythm games' player just wants to have fun. However, gaming is also competitive, so hitting a high score is always something to strive for.

Naturally, it helps if you have a passion for music. The following gamers have certainly got that and more:

PP1 OTL

This mysterious gamer became a Dance Dance Revolution Legend on May 21, 2011, after hitting a high score of 3,419 points. They hit all 50 trophies and bagged the maximum number of “Gamerscore” points on route to securing the highest total of all-time.

Ryota Wada

Dance Dance Revolution has been a hit for more than a decade, but Wada remains one of the youngest players to ever hit a perfect score. The Japanese groover achieved an AAA rating on expert mode at the age of 9 after mastering the song, Hyper Eurobeat.

In fact, Wada is not only a legend in gaming but the world at large. His step-perfect performance earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Matthew A

This Guitar Hero III player became a legend of rock in their own right after hitting one of the highest ever scores. Matthew notched up a total of 916,745 points while playing Through the Fire and the Flames on expert mode.

Jeremy D

Another Guitar Hero fan set a record in 2015 when they hit a 7,500-note streak on Warriors of Rock! That score is not only impressive but a testament to Jeremy’s finger fitness because tapping away for that long is a tough task for anyone.

Jeff “JediMaster633” Ashby

There have been some impressive Rock Band performances over the years. From drummers and bassists to guitar players. However, when it comes to vocals, few are better than Ashby.

The American gamer has submitted some superb results to Cyberscore, but his rendition of Give it Away was the best. His 467,496 total was a world best and enough to beat Canada’s Jay “stealthhack”.

The 10 Best Rhythm Games Online

Into having some fun and moving to the beat? Could you beat some of the top rhythm games performers? Ready to slay the same? Here's ten of the best console and browser rhythm games:

10. Beat Saber

If you fancy an immersive rhythm game where striking blocks is more important than hitting the right notes, Beat Saber is for you.

This game isn’t overly complex, and its visuals are simple at best. However, among this simplicity is a virtual reality game that’s totally engrossing. The aim is simple: choose a colored lightsaber and swing for moving objects at the right times.

9. Audiosurf 2

Audiosurf 2 isn’t new, but it’s still worth a place on our round up of top-rated rhythm games. Its dynamics are similar to Thumper and other hits within the genre. You’re moving along a track and the aim is to hit notes (denoted by colored blocks) at the right time.

That’s great, but it’s not why it’s on this list. Audiosurf 2 is among the best rhythm games because you can upload your own tracks. That means you don’t have to listen to stock songs and generic tunes.

We all love listening to our own musical favorites, which is why Audiosurf 2 remains a go-to game within the rhythm community.

8. Rez Infinite

Rez got fingers tapping when it was released in 2001 for the Sega Dreamcast and, thanks to some slick upgrades, it found its feet again in 2017 as Rez Infinite. Rez Infinite puts you back in control of a futuristic rhythm-seeker flying through space.

This time, however, you’ll be immersed in a 360-degree universe.

Why? Because Rez Infinite is available as a virtual reality game. That means you can really lose yourself in the beat as you tap buttons in sync with techno sounds.

If you can match the soundtracks beat-for-beat, you’ll defeat your enemies and take charge of the Rez Infinite universe.

7. Thumper

Thumper has been described as the rollercoaster of rhythm games. That’s because you’re put in charge of a beetle that’s flying down a track filled with twists, turns, bumps, and humps.

These disruptions to an otherwise smooth ride are, of course, the obstacles you have to hit. The aim is to make it through nine psychedelic levels and conquer the final boss (a giant maniacal head), all while aggressive tunes play in the background.

6. Friday Night Funkin’

Of all the rhythm games free software out there, Friday Night Funkin’ is one of the best. This open-source creation was released in 2020 and survives on donations alone.

People donated and continue to do so because it harks back to a time when rhythm games were pure dance challenges. That’s not to say new rhythm games online are bad. They’re certainly not.

However, we all have a soft spot for the way things used to be and that’s what Friday Night Funkin’ taps into. The retro animations are matched by an equally retro premise: hit the right dance moves at the right time.

For all intents and purposes, this game is a modern version of Dance Dance Revolution.

5. Rhythm Doctor

This is the hardest, easiest rhythm game you’ll ever play. Rhythm Doctor sees you assume the role of medicine dispenser. That means you have to hand out medicine to patients at regular intervals.

How regularly? Every seventh beat. Each time you hear the seventh beat, you hit the space bar, and the patient gets their meds.

Sounds easy, right? Well, in many ways, it is. However, the problem is that there are countless distractions. Not only do the sounds get faster and more complex, there are background noises and all manner of animations taking place as you try to hit the seventh beat.

As PC rhythm games go, this one is frustratingly engaging.

4. BPM: Bullets Per Minute

Anyone that can rattle off notes at machinegun speeds should play Bullets Per Minute. Unsurprisingly, the track list is filled with powerful rock tunes and your job is to jump, shoot, and slide your way around fantasy worlds.

To make these moves, avoid attacks, and kill your enemies, you need to hit buttons on the right notes. More direct hits results in more direct hits, so make sure you can find the beat in every song.

Given that Bullets Per Minute is all about high-octane action and demonic enemies, it’s perfect for those that suffer with gamer rage and need to let off some steam.

3. Sayonara Wild Hearts

A lot of rhythm games' free play and premium titles bombard you with animations. Yes, some of them look great, but there are times when an abundance of features becomes distracting. Sayonara Wild Hearts doesn’t fall into this trap.

In fact, it’s beautiful in its simplicity along with a great selection of songs made especially for the game. That means you can focus on dancing your way through 23 levels. What’s also great about Sayonara Wild Hearts is the way each level moves into the next.

It’s literally like an album, which is another reason it’s ranked among the best rhythm games online.

2. Pistol Whip

What do you get when you cross rhythm games with a first-person shooter? That’s right, you get Pistol Whip. Unlike other rhythm games PC and console players will be familiar with, Pistol Whip is all about using the music to defeat an enemy.

That means you’re not hitting the notes to make a tune or perform a dance move.

Instead, each beat you hit directs a bullet towards incoming enemies. The better your timing, the more accurate and deadly your shots will be. In many ways, Pistol Whip is as much of an action adventure game as a rhythmic challenge.

However, regardless of the genres it straddles, you’ll love this game if you’re a fan of hitting deadly notes.

1. Fuser

Where would rhythm games PC and console players be without Harmonix? The studio that brought us Guitar Hero has become one of the go-to names for online rhythm games, and Fuser is one of its best. It’s entertaining because it’s different.

Unlike other console, PC, and browser rhythm games, Fuser doesn’t put you under pressure.

In other words, you’re not playing against the clock or battling bad guys. Instead, you’re free to experiment. In fact, that’s the aim. You’re positioned behind a set of decks with one simple task: create a hit track.

For rhythm games enthusiasts, Fuser offers a break from the norm and an enjoyable one at that.

A Genre to Enjoy

Rhythm games aren’t for everyone. There are a lot of hardcore gamers that believe Fuser and Pistol Whip et al are nothing more than novelty offerings. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Gaming of all varieties, whether it’s PC games with an RPG vibe or console first-person shooters, can be fun.

The fact rhythm games require you to move and react to a beat doesn’t make them any less entertaining, skilled, or enjoyable. With that mind, it’s worth looking at the console, browser, and PC rhythm games listed in this guide.

You never know, you might discover a talent for dancing, singing, or musical instruments that you never knew you had.

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