You can be anything in video games, from mighty warrior, to humble farmer. So why not a musical genius! Thankfully those kind games developers heard the cries of us bedroom superstars and have given us a way to channel our inner star. Here are a few of the best:
Number One: Guitar Hero/Rock Band series. The obvious choice when it comes to video-game-music mash-ups. The Guitar Hero/Rock Band games for the X-Box 360, PlayStation 2 and 3 and Nintendo Wii, are now legendary. Both games play almost identically, giving you actual plastic replica guitar, bass and drums, as well as a mic for up to 4 players to form their own garage band and play covers of their favourite songs. The track listings for the games are, on the whole, amazing. With a great soundtrack of indie/punk/rock ‘n’ roll of all games being covered; there are thousands of tracks to choose from, as well as band-specific titles, of groups like The Beatles and Metallica. When it comes to party games, and music lovers, you really can’t beat these games, and there are still official tournaments being held with these games even today! These series’ were put to rest a few years ago, but with rumors of a new Guitar Hero game in the works, expect the craze to start all over again soon!
Number Two: Lips series. Everyone likes a bit of karaoke every now and then, especially when alcohol is involved. Lips for the X-Box 360 and PlayStation 3 lets you recreate the excitement of wailing into a microphone from the comfort of your own home. Whereas the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games understandably focus on guitar based music, lips has arguably a wider range when it comes to track listings, as it is just a karaoke game. Armed with the two provided microphones, you can warble your way through anything from Justin Beiber to Nirvana, and at the end of the song, you’ll get a score, just to show you how terrible you are, despite your best Mariah Carey impression… Or maybe that’s just me. Another great game when you have a few people over, and maybe a bottle of cheap wine. It’s also a game your little sister would love… But don’t let her have any of the wine!
Number Three: Jam Sessions. For those of you that want music gaming on the go should check out Jam Sessions on the Nintendo DS. Following on from the Guitar Hero craze Jam Sessions is a rhythm based game that lets you play along to some of your favourite indie and rock music. Using the console’s touch screen, you have to strum and pick along to the songs, and are given a score based on your performance. Sadly it doesn’t have a huge track listing, due to the limitations of the hardware, but the selection is generally pretty good, and the sound quality is surprisingly high, especially if you use headphones while playing.
Number Four: Electroplankton. Another great music experience for people on the move, Electroplankton, again, on the Nintendo DS is a bizarre game, which at first is very confusing. There is no real aim to the game, you are just given a selection of ‘creatures’ called Electroplankton, each of which makes a different sound, so all you do is place the little blighters in various positions, and then see what comes out when you touch them. After a while, you can really create some amazing ambient electro-music. It’s very relaxing, and people have even made full albums, and play live gigs using the game! Search for it on YouTube, you won’t be disappointed!
Number Five: Rocksmith. Next up, we have Rocksmith released for the X-Box 360, X-Box One and PlayStation 3. The game is similar to the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, in that you have a selection of songs, and must play along to them. The major difference here is that you can plug your actual guitar into your console; effectively giving you chance to actually learn to play the songs. This does mean that it isn’t really a game you can just pick up and play, but more of a guitar tutor. It works well, although sometimes it seems to overcomplicate some simple chord based songs. However, it is highly recommended, as it does have a great variety of tracks, and really can help you learn to play guitar, something that none of the other games here can offer.
Number Six: Magic Piano. Normally I wouldn’t want to talk about downloadable games that aim to vacuum the contents of your wallet, but I would have to say Magic Piano available on the Android and Apple app stores, is actually pretty good! As the title suggests, this is a piano-based rhythm game. With a great selection of tracks including traditional songs, nursery rhymes, and movie soundtracks, as well as tracks from classic video games, it really has something for everyone. And although it does try to get you to fork out money to get songs faster, it’s not actually too hard to get new ones, with a different free song becoming available every day. It’s pretty easy, but good fun, and as you don’t have to pay anything for it, well worth a look.
Number Seven: Gitaroo Man. The last of the rhythm based games that I am going to talk about, as you could make a list of hundreds of them, is Gitaroo Man on the PlayStation. This time, you play as the titular Gitaroo Man, who is a superhero who defends the world with guitar solos. It’s as awesome as it sounds. The game has a great original soundtrack, with some crazy Japanese humor, and imagery. Once again, you have to follow on screen prompts, to perform the solos, and string bends to defeat aliens, rescue people in distress, and my personal favourite stage, to woo the girl with an acoustic ballad. This game was really unique at the time, as it was one of the first of its kind. Sort of a guitar based Parappa the Rapper. But that’s a whole other story.
Number Eight: Buzz The Music Quiz. This is exactly what it says on the tin. Buzz the Music Quiz for the PlayStation 2 includes four buzzers, allowing you and three friends (or teams of however many people you want, I suppose) to all join in on this music general knowledge quiz. It has a great variety of rounds, including general knowledge, as well as rounds where you have to name a song playing, or identify a singer or band in a given picture. It’s as close as you can get to having a TV music show in your own home, and really gets peoples competitiveness out in the open. This is definitely one for the whole family, the only downside to it is, that after a while, you will start to see the same questions come up, though as there are a good few thousand questions, this does take some time. It’s a pretty rare game, but if you can find it, it’s well worth picking up.
Number Nine: Def Jam series. The Def Jam games were a bit of a shock when they were announced. They are wrestling/fighting games featuring rappers from the Def Jam label. While, on paper, this seems like a terrible idea, the actual games are surprisingly good! With great action and, of course, an amazing soundtrack featuring songs from most of the artists in the game, it does a lot to please. Fighters include Method Man, DMX, Flavor Flav, Ludacris, and even Snoop Dog, each of whom have an amazingly brutal amount of punches and suplexes… Suplex… What’s the plural for that? So if you’ve ever wanted to know who would win in a fight between Ice –T and Lil’ Kim, these are the games for you.
Number Ten: Brutal Legend. Brutal Legend is very unique, as it is a music based game, which is more akin to the hugely popular Zelda games than anything else. In this game, you play as a roadie, called Eddie, who is transported to another world after the band he is working for are eaten by a giant metal demon. The game features an all star cast, including Jack Black as the main hero Eddie, as well as Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, and Rob Halford, to name a few. The game is all about heavy metal, and has one of the best soundtracks around, with over 100 tracks, which all add to the great artwork in the game, where the whole world looks like a huge Iron Maiden album cover. The amount of references and satirical jokes concerning the state of the current music industry are excellent, and it will really keep your interest. It features everything you’d want from a game based on heavy metal, face melting guitar solos (literally), huge winged beasts, and of course, plenty of head banging. It can be found for around $10 these days, so do yourself a favor, and grab a copy!
Of course, this is just scraping the surface of music based games that are out there. Most of them do tend to be very similar, but there are a few exceptional ones available, proving once again, that used correctly, music can appeal to anyone, and makes everything just that bit more enjoyable. Let me know what your favorites are!