Can You Feel The Beat?!
Any rhythm gamers out there? I know there are somewhere. When you're born with 'The Gift' there's no denying its influence. You wake up with a tune in your head and it sets your day straight. Walking down the street and a vehicle is sharing its music with the world, your body instinctively responds in time. You're counting to four over each step, one and two, three and skrrt! Whoops, almost walked into traffic.
The beat can never be denied, but it can be judged and scored. I learned that playing my first successful rounds at Dance Dance Revolution. Those rounds spanned hours stomping to the beat, chasing the highest score I could on the most challenging difficulty I could complete. Sure, it was on Light Mode, but I wanted to be average. Standard was the goal.
I knew I had it bad when I needed the home version of Dance Dance Revolution Extreme for Playstation 2. Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix smashed together two of my worlds and my mind was obliterated by the tunes. Classical music and Mario-themed mashups, more arrows than I could shake a tail feather at across two baller systems cemented them in my gaming foundation. I'm sure our floors still have indents where I played constantly. Then I discovered that rhythm gaming is not just confined to dance. My introduction to DJ Max for PSP and Ouendan for Nintendo DS expanded my horizons and showed me that its not all about the steps.
DJ Max was similar to DDR in that it starts with 4 buttons, but could be played with the face buttons and directional pad. Its difficulty can also be increased by adding more button inputs to the mix, up to 8 buttons including the shoulders. Ouendan strayed from that formula using a touch screen and pen, but high difficulty play shrank the buttons and decreased the length of time they were on the screen before they needed to be pressed. Failing a song also meant your team of masterful cheerleaders failed to inspire the song's characters to success which added an extra layer of stress. But the vibe is still the same throughout: catch the beat, ride the wave. And thats the beautiful thing about rhythm games and one of the things I miss most about con life: Game Room Rhythm Section is OP!
I'm talking drums, dances, lights, and good vibes for 3 days straight. Whether its swiping your swords with Beat Saber, smashing drums in Taiko no Tatsujin, or burning the floor in Pump It Up, the rhythm section is a place to show off and go off. Rhythm gaming takes a special kind of hand eye coordination, one that seems simple at first glance. But once you're the player in the pilot seat, if you don't know how to handle the 5 button string specific to that game, say goodbye to your score.
Rhythm gamers make it look so easy. What looks like random fast inputs has been practiced over and over, the songs playing in our heads walking down the street just so we never forget the hard part of that one song we will conquer the next time we go in for a session. Because it's not just about you when you're at a con. It's the show!
It's being able to leave a high score on a machine and that "Wow" you get when you step off the pad. Its the friends you make who play the same songs as you and just want to do a versus run with you. It's sharing the music theory that help you master your own rhythm and to also guide others to the controller. What we share with each other helps translate our skills from a drum machine to our feet to whatever clever inputs they come out with next. It's a lifestyle and we all walk, to the tune of our own drums. Rhythm gamers, I salute you.
Do you have 'The Gift'? What other rhythm games do you play? Let's chat in the comments and see where the beat can take you!