Music based video games are a source of income depletion constant amusement for me. I love them. Music games make me want to. . . play them.
The first music game that I really went crazy over was Beatmania. Beatmania consists of hitting “notes” of a song and spinning a turntable on the beat, on a specialized controller. I imported the game, two sets of turntable / keyboard units, and hacked my playstation one. Then I went about navigating the menus and learning the various songs. Eventually I got so good I could play both sets of turntables and keyboards for one song. Evidently, I had a lot more free time then. *sigh*
Konami decided that Beatmania was a good thing, and produced more games under the “bemani” line: Guitar Freaks, Drummania, Keyboardmania, Pop’n’Music, Para Para Paradise, and of course, media darling Dance Dance Revolution. You can see some of these games in the background of the movie “Lost in Translation.” Bill Murray’s character is absolutely bewildered by them.
Other companies produced their own music games as well: Parappa the Rapper and Vib Ribbon from Sony, Pump it Up from Korean newcomer Andamiro, Space Channel 5 and Samba De Amigo from Sega, Donkey Konga from Nintendo, and Taiko Drum Master from Namco.
Vib Ribbon from Sony (Also known as the “Dancing Crack Rabbit” game, you’ll see why after the link) had simple vector graphics, but allowed you to use your own music CDs to provide the music and “levels” for the game.
Pump it Up is the only dance game that I know of (and my current favorite, btw) that is accessible via Metro. The White Flint Mall Dave and Buster’s has a unit there, relatively well maintained. The machine and its fans were the subject of a local news broadcast, but I can’t find the link.
Samba De Amigo from Sega had infrared maracas controllers which actually make noise. So while playing the game, you’re shaking the maracas. You’re playing a game about playing the instrument and playing the instrument at the same time. There’s metagame.
Previously, the US market for games of this type was middling to weak, at best.
But it has begun to change. Games that I never thought would be released in the United States are appearing in retailers.
Donkey Konga, from Nintendo, has arrived at your local retailer. I’ve got the import and the US release, and they’re both pretty fun. I have both because I thought the game would never be released here.
Taiko Drum Master, a game I thought would never hit US shores, is now available to preorder. This astounds me. I mean, it’s a game. . . about taiko drumming. Hey Billy Jo, do you know what a Taiko is?
I have played Donkey Konga multiplayer and it is quite amusing. However, it is not as complex nor rewarding as the Beatmania games. Unfortunately, most of the US will never know, because the Beatmania games have never been released here in the states, except for select arcade units. (I blame this lack of exposure on the demise of the American Video Game Arcade, which is a whole other issue for me.) I fear that many americans will never know the joy of wailing on a fake guitar, which for me is sad.
I’m hoping that this is indicative of a future trend. Granted, I enjoy walking / flying / driving / jumping to point A and beating / stabbing / destroying / shooting / stealing X, just as much as the next guy. (Probably more so.)
It’s just that music games are just fun.
They are play for the sake of play.
We could all use more of that.