Sunday, May 18, 2014

Can't Hold a Tune, But Can Hold a Beat

Can't dance.

Can't sing.

Can't play any musical instrument.

But I can pretend to have those skills, at least temporarily.

The magic of video games is that you can escape from reality and be anything you want to be. Itching to get into a fist fight? Look no further with Tekken. Wanna be the very best, like no one ever was? Pokemon. Be a lawyer? Ace Attorney's got you covered. Master the art of exorcism photography? Fatal Frame. Dare to go on a killing spree? Then… well there are actually a lot of games that can offer that.

What I mean to say is that video games are a great portal to certain… career choices, we'll call them. I can't play a guitar, but I can do moderately well in Guitar Freaks/Guitar Hero. I don't like singing out loud in front of people because heck, why would I, but I can live vicariously through Ulala of Space Channel 5.

I'd like to think that rhythm games are my forte, as lame as that might sounds. In response to my crummy turn-based games record, I require very little effort (that might be pushing it though -- I'm not THAT good or anything) when it comes to rhythm games (but really, who needs effort in rhythm games). Whereas hack-n-slash gives me so much satisfaction, rhythm games are like a cup of tea on a rainy day: pleasant and soothing, except with a nice, musical quirk.

My earliest memory of rhythm games begins with Dance Dance Revolution. Granted, I was always too shy to use the dance mat in front of people, but I did find a lot of enjoyment when it came to playing DDR with the PlayStation remote. Although practically considered cheating, pressing buttons to the beat became one of my favorite pastimes. 

All images nicked from Google.
Bust a Groove and its sequel were one of my favorite rhythm games ever. The roster of characters was always a joy to choose from, and their respective songs were catchy. These two aspects, I believe, were key to making the game work so well. The backstories we get after finishing the game were a great bonus, too.

I remember the first time I encountered BaG: my cousin gave me a copy, saying, and I quote, "I think you'll like Shorty." Shorty is a character from the game whose song was about wanting to be taken seriously by the adults. (I could relate to her on an emotional level, because… we are both short.) I had no idea how to play the game at first, and by no idea I mean randomly button mashing. My cousin later explained how the gameplay worked and I was hooked beyond rescuing.

I gotta believe! ... that it is totally normal for an onion to be my martial arts sensei.
Another rhythm game I liked was PaRappa the Rapper, which I didn't get to play until college. I once saw a copy of it for the PS2 but, for some unknown reason, I didn't bother picking it up. What a mistake that certainly was, because PaRappa is golden. The songs were quirky and the game itself loopy, but it was so entertaining to play. AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THAT DRIVING LESSON STAGE.

Other rhythm game favorites include Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (more of the sequel though, just because of the song collection) and Rhythm Tengoku, both of which I was introduced to on the Nintendo DS. I enjoyed the varying levels of difficulty on Ouendan, and the highest difficulty level was especially challenging. (It was almost frustrating, yet I was determined to finish the game.) Rhythm Tengoku is a definite must-try. Like seriously, if you're a rhythm game fanatic like I am, you can't go on with your life without having tried Rhythm Tengoku. It definitely lives up to its name (Rhythm Heaven) because I'd definitely consider it a heaven for rhythm games.

You can't go wrong when you've got your own Michael Jackson in this game.
Space Channel 5 was something I first encountered in an article of a video game magazine. The character design intrigued me, and while its gameplay is essentially more Simon Says than rhythm, it caught my interest and I had hope I could find a copy somewhere. I eventually found a copy of its sequel and totally burned my eyes (and brain, most likely) with the bright colors and oozes of "Chu!" and "Hey!"

In high school, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Guitar Hero and Guitar Freaks. My friends and I would often head to the arcade for a couple of rounds of GF whenever we'd be out in a mall, and it was always fun watching those notes scroll up as you press on those three buttons simultaneously while strumming accordingly. GH was something I never knew I wanted (loljk), and I came to support that franchise until the third game (and its foray into Nintendo DS territory). I can't play DrumMania to save my life, but I can manage drumming a bit on Rock Band.

I've also recently stumbled upon Rhythm Thief for the 3DS. I've only played the demo, but you can bet that I'll make sure to purchase the full game one of these days. It reminded me a bit of Rhythm Tengoku and I was pleasantly surprised that the gameplay wasn't just simple flicking and pointing on the touch screen.

Sound Shapes was a demo I tried out on the PS3, and man is that game DA BOMB. Gameplay-wise it's more of a platformer, but the music. OH THE MUSIC. So magical it makes my ears cry.

Somewhere, a rhythm game cries out for attention. It's my job to heed that call.

- Ina

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