If music be the food of love, play on. We’re not sure old Will Shakespeare was taking about the allure of playing rhythm games there, but we like to imagine he might have been if he’d been given an iPhone for Christmas instead of a writing set.
Rhythm games can take all shapes and forms, but they’re joined together by the central need to get down to the beat in some way or other. Here are some prime examples of games that will get you jigging in your seat.
Apple loves A Musical Story, having given it an award for its perfectly tailored UI, and so do we. It’s a curious mash-up of narrative game and rhythm-action, interspersing beautifully animated vignettes with simple but effective beat-matching interludes. There’s a funky, chilled-out nature to the music and presentation that’s perfectly in keeping with the story about a road-tripping ’70s psych-rock band. In a word, it’s groovy.
If you think that all rhythm games are lightweight fluff, then Crypt of the NecroDancer is here to club you in the head – rhythmically, of course. It’s a hardcore roguelike RPG in which your top-down, turn-based dungeon crawling is set to a rhythmic click track of sorts. Move and attack in time to the beat, and your combat performance will be bolstered. A cheeky sense of humor keeps the vibe as bright and breezy as the game’s catchy soundtrack.
One of the classics of the format on the App Store, Lost in Harmony mashes together auto-runner and rhythm-action mechanics, and allies it with a charming anime art style. It’s Temple Run meets Guitar Hero, as cool skateboarder Kaito and his hospital-bound friend Aya race through gorgeous dream-like landscapes. While dodging traffic is key, everything moves along according to the beat, with a soundtrack that covers everything from Beethoven’s Fifth to La Cucaracha.
Proving that rhythm games don’t have to mean checking your brain in at the door, ELOH takes the form of the brain-tickling puzzler with a beguiling rhythmic core. The idea is to drag a bunch of totem-like blocks around in order to redirect a stream of projectiles, with each angled strike creating an endorphin-releasing percussive sound. By the end of each puzzle, you’ve essentially created a mesmerizing audio loop. It’s moreish stuff.
Rhythm games aren’t all sweetness and light. Thumper: Pocket Edition feels downright violent, an abstract futuristic beat-matching game that runs on pure speed and aggression. Featuring a suitably pounding techno soundtrack and nine cruelly unforgiving levels, it’s a genuine assault on the senses as you force your shiny space beetle ever onward with (hopefully) pinpoint timing and a headache-inducing level of concentration. This is not one to play in a public space – at least without headphones.