A Short History of Rhythm Games

The games Guitar Hero, Beat Saber and Just Dance are all Rhythm games. But how did they get their start?

A Short History of Rhythm Games

While they weren’t as popular as they are now, Rhythm games’ popularity still isn’t going to fall. If you don’t know what rhythm games are, Wikipedia simply describes them as “a genre of music-themed action video games that challenge a player’s sense of rhythm.”

These are some popular rhythm games:

  • Beat Saber
  • Guitar Hero
  • Beatmania
  • Just Dance
  • Dance Dance Revolution
  • And more!

A lot of these games have changed how gaming works these days, but how were they first made?

How Rhythm Games got Their Start (in America)

Two game developers from Boston, Massachusetts decided to go to Japan in search of their next big game. They had already come up with a good music software and were looking to give it some good form. They found the people of Japan so obsessed with Rhythm Games and that’s when they got their idea to bring rhythm games to the west. They first came up with the games Frequency and Amplitude. While they weren’t as successful as the developers wanted, their company Harmonix still made their place into becoming big game developers.

While Harmonix partnered with the company Konami to make Karaoke Revolution, a bigger company decided to make the game Sing Star. That company was Sony. Since Sony had more popularity and more resources, they easily beat Karaoke Revolution in the market. Harmonix still kept up their progress with the game Antigrav which, like modern-day rhythm games, uses the camera to track motion. It worked similar to Just Dance in a way. While the ratings weren’t splendid, the sales still went up. While it was such a success, Harmonix still didn’t want to head in that direction.

Soon, the company RedOctane reached out to Harmonix to partner for a guitar game. RedOctane would make the guitars and Harmonix would make the software. That’s how Guitar Hero was first made. The popularity kept going up and up with many sequels in place. Soon, MTV bought Harmonix out. The first game that was made after that deal, Guitar Hero 3, became the best selling game in 2007. That game was also the first game to bring $1 billion in sales.

And of course, games like that would get knock-offs and other spin-offs. In 2009, the games were facing dropping sales by 50%.

Rhythm Games Now

These days, you don’t have to go to an arcade to play with PC rhythm games and rhythm games on gaming consoles. You can simply go on your respective app store and find many rhythm games with types of instruments and songs you like. You can also play rhythm games such as Beat Saber in VR!

If you are into games that include music, you enjoy dancing, or simply want to try some new games you should definitely try out a rhythm game.