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Music video game

Music Sound

Music video game

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A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, rhythm action game, or rhythm game, is a type of video game where the gameplay is oriented almost entirely around the player's ability to follow a musical beat and stay with the rhythm of the game's soundtrack. Since the game play for this type of game is largely aural rather than visual, this type of game is similar to audio games. However, music games generally require a visual component as well.

In a music video game, the player must press specific buttons, or activate controls on a specialized game controller, in time with the game's music. The control scheme is usually fairly simplistic, and the moves required are usually pre-determined rather than randomized. More recently, music games such as Rez (2002) have attempted to move away from the traditional "Simon says" approach, attempting to give the player more freedom in the sounds they create.


Major developers


A Japanese video game company now known as NanaOn-Sha is credited with the creation of what is generally considered to be the first modern rhythm game, PaRappa the Rapper (1996). The gameplay generally involves repeating the rhythms of raps from another character (one per level), by pressing any of six buttons on the game controller. The button sequences are displayed on a timeline the top of the screen. The press of a button plays a corresponding sample of PaRappa's voice, regardless of whether the timing of the press or the selection of the button is correct (PaRappa can sometimes be heard to say "oops!" if no sample is associated with the button at that moment).

The game is scored for sequence and timing, and adhering exactly to the given timeline results in a passing grade. However, unlike many other music games, the player may obtain an even higher score and access a special "COOL" mode of play by "freestyling" (though the algorithm by which this is scored is often nebulous and the results virtually unpredictable).

The game's success resulted in the spinoff UmJammer Lammy (1999), which is based on guitar samples, and eventually a proper sequel (2002). NanaOn-Sha also produced another novel music game, Vib-Ribbon (1999), but released the game only in Japan and Europe.

BEMANI (née Konami g.m.d)

An extremely popular series of games published by Konami in Japan that make up a significant proportion of the genre, and are known as the "BEMANI series", after the company's music games division. The series is named, in a common Japanese syllabic abbreviation, after its flagship game, beatmania (1997), in which a player uses a set of buttons and a controller in the form of a DJ's turntable. The series also includes several games based on controllers shaped like musical instruments, such as GuitarFreaks (1998) and DrumMania (1999).

Only a limited selection of the BEMANI games have been released outside of Asia, the most notable definitely being Dance Dance Revolution (1998) (also known as Dancing Stage in European release), in which players, in time with an on-screen sequence, step on or otherwise activate panels on a large (about 1 meter square) floor controller which in home versions somewhat resembles the Nintendo Power Pad accessory. The overwhelming success of DDR and its sequels has spawned numerous re-creations of the game or its mechanics, both commercial (Pump It Up, EZ2Dancer) and free (including StepMania, which is also FOSS, and Dance With Intensity, which is not), making it possibly the most duplicated music game in existence.

The BEMANI series can be credited with several trends in music games. One is the use of novel, specialized game controllers, in both arcade and home versions (which Konami has also pioneered in non-music games such as Police 911). Another is a basis on a sizeable catalog of short mixes and covers of existing songs as well as songs produced in-house for the game. Most or all games in the series have (often multiple) sequels in which the mechanics of the game vary little from the original and the main change is the selection of songs.


An American game company called Harmonix makes primarily music games, and is famous for the game FreQuency (2001) and its sequel Amplitude (2003), both of which feature edits of existing songs (as well as original selections) and a gameplay similar to that of beatmania.

Harmonix also produced Karaoke Revolution (2003) (published by Konami as a BEMANI game), in which a player sings along to background music and on-screen lyrics (in the style of karaoke) into a microphone and scored on correct pitch.

A new (as of November 2005) game by Harmonix called Guitar Hero is extremely similar to Konami's GuitarFreaks, making use of a nearly identical guitar-shaped (but only slightly guitar-like) controller with more neck buttons.

The company was one of the first developers to make use of the EyeToy camera accessory for the PlayStation 2.

United Game Artists/Q Entertainment

Before it was absorbed by Sonic Team in 2003, SEGA's United Game Artists division, led by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, created several music games. In the month following the dissolution of UGA, Mizuguchi left SEGA along with several of his co-workers to form an independent game studio, Q Entertainment, which continues producing music-based games, along with a handful of other titles.

The first two titles produced by UGA were the Dreamcast game Space Channel 5 and its sequel (both were later re-released for the PlayStation 2). In the game, the player controls Ulala, a swingin' reporter for the titular broadcast network, Space Channel 5. Ulala defeats her enemies (which include aliens, robots, and nefarious humans) by mesmerizing them with her dancing and/or singing, then incapacitating them with her raygun. The control scheme follows a "simon says" format, with players repeating sequences of button presses in time with the ever-present music.

The last title made by UGA before it was dissolved was Rez, a unique rail shooter for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. In Rez, the player flies through a psychedelic, abstract landscape while a Techno or Breakbeat track plays. Whenever the player locks on to an enemy, shoots, or uses a special ability, there is a both a musical and a visual effect which occurs in time with the playing track. The controller's vibrating motors also pulse in time with the beat. The sensory experiences offered by the game (visual, auditory, and tactile) are all intensely coordinated, and the unique play experience earned Rez many excellent reviews, although sales were lackluster.

After Mizuguchi left SEGA to form Q Entertainment, his new company produced two titles for new portable systems, Lumines for the PlayStation Portable and Meteos for the Nintendo DS. Meteos includes a largely orchestral soundtrack, but the gameplay does not center on music or rhythm, so it is outside the scope of this article.

Lumines is a puzzle game in which the goal is to arrange like-colored falling blocks into squares which will then disappear. Like Rez, each stage in the game has a unique musical and visual theme. Unlike, for example, Tetris, blocks which are cleared do not disappear immediately. Instead, a bar called the timeline sweeps across the screen in time with the music and clears away the properly arranged blocks, producing a musical effect in sync with the background music each time this happens.

Finally, Q Entertainment is currently working on producing a new PSP title called Every Extend Extra. It is as an action game with shooter like elements. The game will feature rhythm-oriented gameplay, music, and psychedelic graphics, much like Rez.

Elmorex Ltd

Elmorex ltd published pitch scoring karaoke game with backgrounds in 2000. The product was not published outside of Finland and was aimed for children. Media:PitchGame_2000.JPG, Media:PitchGame_2000_zoom.JPG

See also

Home | Up | Chiptune | Gametrack | Interactive music | Music disk | Music video game | VGM

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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