Brandon Boyer

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Why do we like UK games journo Simon ‘chewingpixels‘ Parkin? First, and most obviously, because he’s taken the time to prepare this exhaustive timeline charting the evolving course of rhythm games, and second, though it doesn’t appear in the timeline, he has correctly called out 1987 Famicom Disk System game Otocky (from Electroplankton /Tenori-On creator Toshio Iwai) as one of the true groundbreakers (as well as included some uber-obscurities like PlayStation 2 title Dog of Bay). He explains, though, on Otocky‘s absence, as well as notable others:

I’ve limited the list to rhythm-action games in the strictest sense, that is, games in which you time inputs to match prerecorded music. So there’s no Rez, ElectroPlankton or WiiMusic, titles in which a player’s inputs do create musical outputs, but not necessarily in a scored or timed framework.

We have to go back and check again to see if they break the rules, but we might have a few additions — Agetec’s recent DS title Rhythm ‘n Notes springs quickly to mind, as well as Wonderswan Color game Rhyme Rider Kerorican and the forthcoming Major Minor’s Majestic March (both from Parappa creator NanaOn-Sha) , as well as at least one other original PlayStation obscurity which is escaping us at the moment.

chewing pixels » The Rhythm-Action Timeline

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  1. Whenever my mind is blank
    And I am literally thinking about nothing
    often the word that comes to mind is “wonderswan”
    never owned one, never wanted one

  2. can’t wait for the localized Rhythm Tengoku. now i need to go google that to remember when it comes out.

  3. Rhythm games have always seemed like a really limited genre to me. A game type in which deviation is punished goes in the opposite of my personal beliefs about game design.

  4. Ouendan and others are visible at a higher zoom level (see the tabs at the bottom.)

    I didn’t see Technic Beat for PS2 on there. I forget what it was called in Japan (Technix, I seem to want to say,) but it’s an interesting entry in the genre. It’s like Ouendan except you control a character and move them to the various spots, then hit a button with the rhythm. There are other distinguishing characteristics, naturally, but that’s a good summary.

  5. New Challenger, Technic Beat was actually just called Technic Beat in Japan. The game you’re thinking of was its prequel, Technictix. For all intents Technic Beat includes Technictix in its entirety, though, since the gameplay is the same and all of the songs have been carried over. Technic Beat is basically the original soundtrack from Technictix + Namco Remixes + Arika obscurities.

    Incidentally, if Technictix/Technic Beat do end up making it onto the timeline, don’t forget that Technic Beat was originally an arcade release in Japan.

    There are quite a few obscurities missing from the timeline (I’m thinking “Beat Breakers,” “Rhythm n Face,” “Dance Dance Dance” type junk here, not to mention the many arcade knockoffs like Crackin’ DJ), but it does a good job of hitting all the noteworthy rhythm releases… and Dog of Bay. I never knew Tunin’ Glue came out after Parappa!

    Another interesting little bit of trivia: Atari Games came close to bringing what would’ve been the first rhythm game to arcades in 1985, “Atari Jammin’.” One can only imagine where rhythm games would be now if we’d all been rocking out (on what sounds like the drumset and cowbell from “Paperboy”) in 80s arcades. You can see a video of the prototype here: http://www.atarigames.com/page4/files/page4-1017-pop.html

  6. I knew Bobby would be along before too long — talking rhythm is like leaving a bowl of tuna out for the alleycats.

    Rhythm ‘n’ Face was the one I couldn’t immediately remember, which is actually how I accidentally remembered Rhythm ‘n’ Notes.

    I’d forgotten Tunin’Glue came out for the Pippin, also. I’ve still got the Mac Classic demo sitting around somewhere — I suppose we could make footage of our own.

  7. Kieran O’Neill

    You know, the first time I heard the Eurhythmics “Sweet Dreams” was when playing a rock band-esque game on the Commodore 64. You could pick band members, pick a song, then parade the band members around on stage while the C64 hummed a bleepy 8-bit version of the tune, along with karaoke-style lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen (presumably to sing along to). It may or may not have been a rhythm game – my 8-year old mind didn’t have a lot of patience with it – but perhaps it should go on the timeline, too?

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