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Gaming 101:
Rhythm Games
 

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry, we are looking at Rhythm games.

Rhythm video games are played while listening to music or a drum beat of some kind. To progress well you have to press buttons and interact in time with the music. Sometimes this is simply to make music in its own right, while at others it's to interact in others ways, often called Rhythm Action.

Many rhythm games include multiplayer modes in which players compete for the highest score or cooperate as a simulated musical ensemble. Along with gamepads, specialised input devices (plastic instruments, dance mats and the like) enable a more creative interaction.

The Rhythm interaction can be combined with all manner of other genres. This adds another layer to Platform, Adventure or Shooting games. In these instances, hitting buttons in time with the beat offers additional effects or powered-up attacks. The Rhythm nature of these video games can also add an Active aspect to play. Not only do you find yourself moving your body in time with the beat to get the right timing, but some of these games offer a fully active dance experience where motion and gestures are detected by controllers.
 
This list includes 16 games from the last 19 years, with 85 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play your first rhythm game.

Related Lists
We have 16 Getting Started lists of games, like these:
 

Goodbye Volcano High

Release Date: 29/08/2023

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Goodbye Volcano High is a high school coming-of-age adventure set in a world of anthropomorphic dinosaur characters. You play as band members, non-binary Fang and best friend Trish as they navigate the last days of high school. It's a mix of making...

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PS4, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a rhythm-action game where you control a running, flying, dancing or motorbike-riding character to collect coins and hearts in time with pop music. The neon visuals and emotively voiced story make this an unusual and compelling...

A Dance of Fire and Ice

Release Date: 25/01/2019

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels

A Dance of Fire and Ice is a one-button rhythm game where you control a pair of spheres. You press a button to the beat of the music to progress through the mazes. Each press pivots the direction of motion of the paired spheres to make turns and cross...

Rhythm Doctor

Release Date: 26/02/2021

Out Now: PC

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Rhythm Doctor is a rhythm game about shocking patients' hearts back in sync with their heartbeats to save their lives. You press a single button on the 7th beat to defibrillate each patient. It sounds simple but each level has a unique illnesses based...

Guitar Hero (Series)

Release Date: 08/11/2005, updated in 2015

Out Now: Apple TV, DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Guitar Hero is a series of rhythm games where you tap buttons in time to all sorts of songs using plastic instrument-shaped controllers. In the latest game, Guitar Hero Live, you play along to real-life recorded performances filmed from the lead...

Rhythm Thief and The Emperor's Treasure

Release Date: 05/04/2012

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Rhythm Thief and The Emperor's Treasure is a narrative rhythm game told with cartoons interwoven with rhythm-action challenges. You play an 18-year-old boy with a secret identity as an art thief. He’s searching for his father and, in order to find...

Rock Band 4 (Series)

Release Date: 06/10/2015, updated in 2017

Out Now: PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Rock Band 4 is a music rhythm game. Play along with licensed music using specially made plastic controllers acting as guitars, drum kits and microphones. The game comes with 65 songs spanning the 1960's to 2010's. The music appears as coloured blocks...

Chime (Series)

Release Date: 03/02/2010, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Chime is a block-dropping music puzzle game where you control a single shape to move, rotate, and then place it onto a grid. A beat line moves across the grid in time with the music, setting off events when it hits placed shapes.

Eloh

Release Date: 11/10/2018

Out Now: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On

Eloh is a puzzle game with an unusual dual focus. You may start playing to solve the puzzles, but it soon draws you in to appreciate and take time over the rhythms you create in doing so. It creates a low pressure puzzle with a meditative feel.

Klang 2 (Series)

Release Date: 22/09/2016, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Klang 2 is a psychedelic rhythm-action game. You take on enemies in this symbolic universe of three attacks: stikes, dashes and holds. The simple system interplays with the pulsing music to create a rhythm based high-speed combat challenged. Like the...

Super Sports Beat

Release Date: 28/10/2015, updated in 2017

Out Now: Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Super Sports Beat is a sports rhythm game where you move your character in time with the music to swing, volley, and score points in different events.

Jump Rope Challenge

Release Date: 15/06/2020

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Jump Rope Challenge is a virtual skipping game where you hold the Switch controllers like rope handles and skip. The game displays an on-screen counter and you can play with another person at the same time as you compete for a high score.

Soundfall

Release Date: 11/05/2022

Out Now: PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 3D Third-Person

Soundfall is a dungeon exploration, collection and brawling game where you use rhythm and timing with the music to land the perfect attacks. You are a Guardian of Harmony and must battle the forces of discord with up to four friends to restore harmony...

Soundodger 2 (Series)

Release Date: 11/10/2013, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Soundodger 2 is a rhythm game where you move a small circle to avoid obstacles to the rhythm of the music. While it's a simple concept, the variety of deadly obstacles, the speed, and the precision needed (not to mention the extra game modes and...

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line (Series)

Release Date: 16/02/2012, updated in 2023

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, PS4, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Grid

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is a series of rhythm games where you hit notes and perform actions in time to the music. In Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, you play along to tracks from the famous Final Fantasy Series and...

Rytmos

Release Date: 28/02/2023

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Rytmos is a rhythm-based puzzle game where you create music by solving mazes. You play by creating paths to connect different musical elements that create music. It stands out not only for the unusual musical interactions but how each puzzle combines...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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