Rhythm Games - Part 2: Establishing My Rhythm
So originally what you were supposed to see was two articles that reviewed each game across five criteria for what I believe makes a great rhythm game. The list of criteria is as follows:
1) Interface: Rhythm games are synonymous with gimmicky controls. From the bongos of Donkey Konga to the maracas of Samba de Amigo, rhythm games have all sorts of odd interfaces. And some are definitely better than others. So a lot of what makes a good rhythm game comes from how good their interface is.
2) Song Selection: This is a bug "DUH." If the music sucks in a rhythm game, no matter how fun the game is, you won't want to play it. Also, the song selection needs to fit your theme well, if you have one (don't pick classical music for DrumMania, for example).
3) Approachability / Difficulty Progession: These are two things, but very closely related. It all refers to how easy it is to learn the game. Is it easy to pick up? Once you are hooked, how easy is it to get good at the game? Does the game do a good job of progressing you through the skills you need to learn?
4) Learnability: As I hinted at with my last post, many rhythm games are so much fun because, once you've played them a lot, you actually "learn" the skill needed to play it... so much to the point that you can play new songs that you've never played before and still do well. Get as good as you want in Gradius... the next Gradius comes around and you'll still get mopped up by the new levels. But once you become good at Dance Dance Revolution, you're ready to start with the hardest difficulty on the next revision from the get go.
5) Presentation: This is all the stuff separate from the actual gameplay. This involves the extraneous things: menu displays, stories (if applicable), etc. While not hugely important to the gameplay, it can affect how good the game is. And once I get into full swing with my reviews, you'll see where this can really make a difference.
I came to the realization that, for each of these criteria, I have a lot to say about both Guitar Hero II and Elite Beat Agents. So one article covering all 5 areas for one game will be a long, long, long post. And the longer the article takes to write, the longer it tkaes for me to get it out. And I've been feeling quite bad about my lack of content recently.
(An aside: I will have to say that the hardest thing about writing about video games is the fact that the video games you play take so much free time away from writing about them! Right now, I'm extremely addicted to Super Turbo, as hinted at in Derek's and Eric's blogs, and Final Fantasy XII. Anoyhow, back to the topic at hand...)
So in order to increase the frequency in which new posts arrive, I will instead take one post each for all 5 areas and review both Guitar Hero II and Elite Beat Agents at the same time. This also allows me to discuss that aspect of rhythm games across all five games: GuitarFreaks, Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Ouendan, and Elite Beat Agents. And, hopefully, it'll allow for shorter and, thus, more frequent posts.
So up next: discussing the first area that makes a rhythm game good -- the interface of Guitar Hero II and Elite Beat Agents.