Rhythm games – Relying on Sights and Sound


Music. They are everywhere. From radio stations, to CD players to TV and various other media, music had been a part of our life since early childhood. Indeed, music had played a vital role in almost every medium, especially those that features visuals and audios – TV shows, movies, commercials, video games and so on. Music helps foster certain ambiance and mood that the medium intended. Because of the impact of music, some video games even used music as a main form of gameplay – officially known as rhythm games.


Rhythm game interfaces like ones found from DDR, O2 Jam, Guitar Hero and the likes, feature a tetris-like gameplay with a series of notes flowing from above and one had to press them just as soon as the buttons were shown to drop down to the bottom, usually in conjunction with the speed and timing of the songs. Another interface I came across were akin to Bust A Groove and Audition Online, which emphasized even more on timing. In these cases, the buttons were shown in a progress bar, and all the buttons had to be pressed with the exception of the last one. The last button had to be pressed accordingly to the last beat, which sounds simple, but can be frustratingly difficult to get the timing perfectly if you’re aiming for a high score. The third interface that I came across, is from the Project Diva series. Buttons here may appear from anywhere on screen, and as usual, one had to press them accordingly to the rhythm of the music.


As you can see, there are difference in structures, interfaces and mechanisms for each types of rhythm games, but there is one element which all of them are connected with – timing. The precision in which you press these buttons play a major role in determining your overall end score. How do you mash all the buttons perfectly? Well, quite obviously, just look and see when the notes end.

Although, there’s a better way. Hear, and use your listening capability to determine the timing in which you press the buttons.


In these games, the buttons are designed to be pressed in specific ergonomic section of the rhythm. Playing rhythm game is like playing a drum. The buttons are akin to the various drum sets – kick drum, snare, cymbals, rolls – and you had to control all these in a static and timely manner, producing a very flowing rhythmic sound, which is basically the essence of rhythm games. Not completely relying on sight but also sound is a good strategy to utilize in rhythm games. When I was playing Project Diva F, relying on sound, especially on new tracks with a harder difficulty had saved me quite a number of times.

Relying on sound has a problem however. Music aforementioned, had been a part of our youth since early childhood. One listen to R&B and hip hop, while others listen to rock, while some others may even listen to jazz. Growing up, we may listen to a particular genre of music much more than the others – developing preconceptions of one’s unique musical sense and instincts. There might certain cases where you subconsciously press a button where there are actually no notes to press on-screen, or vice versa. This is apparent, for me at least, especially on newer unlocked tracks, though this is solvable through listening to the tracks multiple times and undergoing several practices.


To that end, if one is playing rhythm games, it will be better to not just rely on your eyes, but your ears, and who knows, you might break your own top scores for songs you just somehow reached a limit and could not get it any higher. It’s important to use your ears to discern the timing, beats and rhythm, after all, it is a music game.

This entry was posted by Kai.

17 thoughts on “Rhythm games – Relying on Sights and Sound

  1. I love playing rhythm games because it’s probably one of the easiest and mindless games to play. I agree, don’t only play with your eyes. The more times I play on one song, the better score I get as I get used to the beat. It kind of like playing drums. The fingers just started to move.

    Playing rhythm games on psp and iPad are easier compared to playing some of the machines on the arcade where coordination of hands and feet are needed. Those are a little more challenging.

    • They are the most fun during those slow moments when you just wanna kill time indeed :D Indeed, it’s why I drew a parallel to playing drums, especially with the significance on timing and precision, it seems the most appropriate.

      In the arcades here, the only rhythm games they have is DDR, obviously, with dance pads. I’m not really good with it though since I use the controller xD

  2. When you’re in the right mood rhythm games can be a lot of fun, though i’ve never played enough to be seriously good at any particular game. Rock Band is the game that’s made up most of my experience, providing hours of entertainment alone and with friends. The one issue I have with rhythm games is that often you need to play through thoroughly unlikable songs to get to the good ones. Obviously developers can’t cater to everyone’s tastes but it’s still kind of annoying >.<

    Other games like Project Diva F seem interesting but i'm not quite willing to drop the cash on them. My old flatmate has it though so i've been able to play it a few times and it seems pretty fun. Those harder difficulties are pretty ridiculou =O

    • I never played much rhythm games too, to be honest. Although I have a feeling that some of the ones I played, particularly O2 Jam and Audition Online, most probably wouldn’t even heard of them… xD Both are online games.Although I played Guitar Hero, I never played Rock Band, but it must be fun having a full set of gaming musical instrument ^^

      Actually I think I may had become a Vocaloid fan now, although I know I don’t really show it, lol. Before I started playing this game, my reception of Vocaloid was definitely positive, but was more neutral towards them than anything else. There was actually a special mode where you can customize your own music, videos and buttons. Since I’m on my phone now, I wish I could show you, but if you try going to youtube and see some of those crazy videos, it will make the game’s so-called extreme mode as if it is as easy as pie :p

      • Believe me, i’ve seen XD I’m still pretty neutral concerning Miku to be honest. Vocaloid as a whole is an awesome idea and i’m really amazed at the amount of success it’s had…but i’m not one of the people contributing to that success >.<
        Still, I do like some of their music. I've got Continuation of a Dream on my iPod.

        • Ahh. Well, those aren’t part of in-game anyway. I can’t do those either >_> Don’t think you really have to contribute to the success, lol. The more important thing is to have interactivity with the medium – Vocaloid, in this case. Since we obviously don’t have the Vocaloid softwares, we can’t make the music, so we’re limited to just checking out their songs. But Project Diva increases that level of interactivity that much more, by having most of the more famous songs in a video game, and featuring the Vocaloids characters in it.

  3. Since I came from a musical background from playing the piano and clarinet, I do have a soft spot when it comes to rhythm games. Back in the day, I used to play Dance Dance Revolution just with the controller rather than on a dance pad mostly for the fact that I’m already skinny myself. Also, I used to play a lot of Stepmania and download a good amount of Anime music to play in it… Fond memories.

    As of recent, the only real rhythm games I played are Idolmaster Shiny Festa (The main games have some of the rhythm element, but it’s mostly plays out like an idol simulator) and Project Diva the 2nd on my Vita. Haven’t bothered with the recent Project Diva games for the fact that my focus is on text heavy games for Japanese language practice. Still, I probably get the new games eventually and perhaps a copy of Utagumi 575 one of these days.

    • I remember playing DDR as my very first rhythm game too. When I played them with my cousin, we used to plug in the dance pads and “dance” around like idiots. Fond memories indeed xD I’m more comfortable with the controller however, lol. And a majority of the time, I will be sitting and relaxing, playing with my controller while my cousin would be stomping around his dance pad, panting and exhausting.. xD
      I have an apk of one of Idolmaster game, not sure which was it, but I think it looks like a rhythm game as well, I never did went passed the tutorial though, not sure what I should be doing, lol. Project Diva is awesome man! I still haven’t had enough with Project Diva F, so I just went and get 1st, 2nd and Extend on the PSP. Just finished unlocking most of 1st’s costumes so I guess it’s about time to start 2nd xD

      I had a brief look at Utagumi 575, the gameplay looks like a perfect for you especially with your Japanese language practice needs^^

  4. Sometimes, when playing these types of games, Extreme is easier than Easy. Almost whatever note in a song has a corresponding note to press whereas in Easy, it’s pretty limited. Planning to go all out on Easy songs will result to, as you mentioned, clicking one key too many. XD
    To spice things a little (and to check your familiarity with a song), I suggest you try playing any rhythm game using sight only. Actually, in loud arcade shops, this is common for me, but it’s annoying because most of the time, I don’t know the song, and trying to hear anything in loud arcade shops is harder than ever, making song memorization harder.
    I started out with DDR, but not to an extent. When I was a kid, I enjoyed these stuff not for the song, but for the timing itself. Would’ya believe that? XD
    Then Tap Tap Revenge for the IPhone got me hooked, and next thing I knew, I wanted to play them all!
    Too bad, though, that I don’t have a PSP to play any of the Project Diva titles before F. TT_TT
    I need to play more of these games!
    Badly! XD

    • Indeed, in some cases, Easy mode can becomes harder due to oversimplications, the number of notes are so little their flow and pattern doesn’t feel ergonomic at all. I just had that awkward sense that it feels I’m missing a lot of buttons when I was actually hitting everything. Also, because it’s not ergonomic, trying to hit the buttons perfectly is just that harder.

      Ahh, that’s true. To tell you the truth, I never played DDR (the only rhythm game available in arcades) in arcades here so things like that completely passed my mind, lol. I can see that, trying to get used to the timing is fun, though another main part of why I played some rhythm games is because back then, I used to have a huge interest in dancing – aforementioned 2nd interface-type rhythm games where there is a series of buttons in one progress bar, usually your character will be behind, dancing. Bust A Groove was especially fun xD

      Maybe there will be available soon for apple. Not sure though judging from how a majority of Japanese portable games were already porting to apple, it does seems likely, that, and Project Diva’s gameplay works well with portable devices and tablets.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: