Double Agent
Can't stop the dance. - February 24th, 2002 - Drew Cosner

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. Chuck Berry is the real King of Rock and Roll. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Man, I can't even think of a good excuse for not having an intro today.

Exploitation is okay by me

Here’s the thing: the rhythm genre is different from other game genres because its continuing existence is reliant upon how well it’s received in arcades. It’s only really supported by console sales, yet the console releases are important because they let the developers know there’s extra money to be made. Unless (or until, sadly) the arcade industry totally dies, I think rhythm games will always be around. At the very least, we’ll always see a version of Konami’s “flagship” rhythm game out in arcades (whether it is DDR or what DDR becomes).

The gameplay doesn’t matter because unlike, for example, the RPG genre, people play to get better at the game. Even if you play it very rarely, you know you’re getting better each time you play. There’s always an attraction; as long as there is a game, you’ll want to play.

And really, when has the gaming industry been against “exploiting” popular things? Even individual developers do it. I’m not insulting the games, but Capcom has produced a lot of very similar fighting games that casual gamers don’t especially want. There’s little demand for a new version of Street Fighter 3, but if one happens to be produced, people will play and Capcom will know there’s an interest.

It’s the same way with the rhythm genre—there have been six versions of DDR—and I don’t think it’s going to change. People will keep playing as long as the developers make modifications to that same basic idea every once in awhile. I’m not trying to say that sequels and different versions have little or no value, but DDR 3rd Mix isn’t extremely innovative or something compared to DDR 2nd Mix.

For the record, I like the rhythm genre. Or just DDR, I guess. I play it every now and then and at the very least it’s something to do with my friends. I can see it’s a turn-off to some people, but it’s also got a lot of loyal gamers more than willing to spend money it. Just talk to the guy who said “screw you” to me when I wouldn’t let him play the game I paid for five minutes before the arcade closed.

True enough. And I think that dancing games definitely have some of the most dedicated fans around. Witness our own Andrew Vestal, who's spent so much time and money importing rhythm games and series-specific controllers that he could probably be one of the world's greatest guitarists by now. I think that as long as people can lord their new Super Mix Edition over their gamer buddies, the developers don't have much to worry about.

Plus, as you say, the genre is just fun, innovation be damned. It combines two great tastes: rocking out and video games. Nothing beats feeling the music and being rewarded with a high score should you feel it well enough. It's like if somebody handed you 5 bucks everytime you air-guitared with particular panache.

U Spazzin' COOL

Wordsworthian Propheteer,

I am wholly convinced that this infernal rhythm game trend will die out as soon as people get bored of this whole "music" thing. If I'm not mistaken, music was invented by the Beatles. And if I continue to be unmistaken, then there are only two Beatles left. The way I see it, as soon as Ringo and Paul fulfil their requirements on this plane of existence and transgress to the next, humans will lose interest in organized combinations of notes and rhytms and will finally be able to move on to a TRUE art form: Fondu.

But before that happens I'd really like to see a rhythm game based on The Dillinger Escape Plan: Blazingly fast, synchopated, polyrhythmic, atonal, and HEAVY AS FUCK.

%opultaM Forward

You know, I can't say I'm knowledgable of that group, but I think we're on the same page here: I'd love to see a rhythm game featuring the "tunes" of the Boredoms, if for nothing else other than watching people at the arcade acting out epileptic fits in the name of a high score.

Inane button-tapping

This is a genre that will die out, and soon. The problem really, is that there is nothing new to introduce, nor are there any groundbreaking improvements to be made. Any other type of game out there can propagate itself through graphics, story, interface, AI, or any number of other factors. The only areas for improvement in Rhythm games come under Graphics, and Music. Graphically, they can't really go anywhere that every other game isn't also going to go. Musically, they are limited by when what is popular where and why. Varying tastes in varying demographics make this a big minefield.

And that's the core of the problem right there; the next rhythm game to come out will be -exactly- the same as the last, except with touched up graphics, a different and likely even more stupid attempt at a unifying plot, and different tunes. Tap button. Watch screen. Tap button twice. Watch screen. Ooooh, drum solo. Oooooh.

If I have a pile of money to blow, and I'm into music and big flashing images, I'd rather go buy several CD/DVDs of my choosing, than one scripted game forcing me into inane button-tapping.

I have to say, that's a pretty narrow take on the matter: there will always be some creative developers out there able to think up some new twist on the genre, so long as it remains popular enough to keep publishers happy. Just take a look at Rez and Guitaroo Man, both of which inject the genre with fresh twists. Just because a format is limited doesn't mean there's no room for creativity.

Club primers

I can't say for sure either way. I have a feeling the whole video game dance craze could go the way of the track and field games where you had the big ole pad to do all the events on. Then again as video games go more mainstream, maybe there is room for this genre to continue and flourish. After all, lots of people love to dance (though usually it's in a big club with many other people). In Japan however I think it's definitely going to stick around for quite a while. The Japanese love quirky games like race horsing games and dating games. Plus arcades are real popular and are a considered an accepted social activity so this type of game is the perfect for going to the arcade for some great fun.

Pendy the DQ/DW guy

Hey, if nothing else, as least DDR can teach people some moves and rhythm so when they go to the clubs, they don't look totally out of place. Those games are a good primer. It's okay to look like a total neophyte on the DDR pad at the arcade, but doing the same at a dance club is going to ensure that members of the opposite sex stay as far away from you as possible.

Like chocolate and rhythm

Ach, Herr Doktor Cozy. Ve meet at last, ja?

I dont really play rhythm games too much. mostly because im shitty at them. and i feel dumb jumping around in my socks on a ddr pad. the closest thing i have recently played however would be Rez. 30% shooter, 20% ryhthm, and 50% bad acid flashback - this game is my new favorite game of all time.

While not technically a total rhythm game i guess, the feature of adding the sounds produced when you shoot baddies to the already funkadelic soundtrack is genius. my friends and I play now just to see who can outdo each other with crazy new beats. And it takes a decent level of skill to time your sounds with the beat of the music - its not just button pressing and luck. I think that if the rhythm genre is to survive, it needs to blend itself into other genres to keep the whole idea of music games fresh. we need more interesting forms of ryhtmically pressing buttons to hold our attention (at least I do). It seems as though the genre is slowly expanding and growing into new areas with games like Rez and Gitaroo Man, which a very good sign that this branch of the industry is alive and well and will no doubt prosper well into the next few years, all thanks to the power of California Cheese.

Its THE cheese. amen.

-Action Jackson, who's plan to name is his first son Sanctimonius, Prince of Hellfire esq. are now foiled due to the mind expanding discovery of the name Cozy. Curses!

Combining with other genres is certainly one route to take, yeah. Although I hope some developers will be clever enough to come up with unique takes on the genre without needing to couple it with other, less recent genres.

Closing Comments:

Topic time! Here's a little something different for you. What, in your mind, would be the perfect gaming site and/or magazine? Be sure to get all descriptive and stuff, to keep things interesting. Once you've come up with some idea you're sure will make your peers envy your wit, be sure to tell it to Erin.

-Drew "Cozy" Cosner, who wears dark specs indoors

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