Friday, 3 April 2009

Rhythm Action - how far to go?

Pressing a button when prompted - surely the most simplistic form of gameplay available, but what is there left to do?

Ever since PaRappa the Rapper arrived on the scene in 1996, the rhythm action game has slowly but surely re-shaped the gaming industry. There are few things so simple yet so wonderfully engaging than nailing that combination of buttons perfectly to the beat of the backgrund music. And how many other games give you such direct feedback of "Perfect!" and "Great!" after every good move?

With the progression through the likes of Dance Dance Revolution, Frequency & Amplitude and now the Guitar Hero & Rock Band series, the genre is now the second most popular category of games being played, overtaking sports games. The Guitar Hero series, in particular, has brought in a whole new audience to the market and has truely incorprated the popular music scene into videogames.

But how much more mileage is there in the genre?

Unless people are going to be happy spending significant money on more novelty plastic, the game cannot rely on the controllers to provide the experience. The good old joypad needs to be enough, at least outside of what is possible with the Wii controllers. It therefore suggests that combining other game genres, that are easily played with a joypad, with music is the way forward. Platformers, first & third person shooters, puzzle, driving and fighting games all already involve well timed button presses to play and progress - is there any potential here?

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