Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From PaRappa to Rock Band: A Music Game Journey

The music/rhythm genre has always been one of my favorites. While some gamers really got into first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, or sports games like Madden, I was a big supporter of the music/rhythm genre since it was still considered niche. Ars Technica features a great overview of where music games started and what the future possibly holds. Way before Guitar Hero and Rock Band, there were some great titles that were seen in both America and Japan.

Although Ars cites Dance Aerobics on the NES as one of the first music games, the one that I and many others remember is the incredible PaRappa the Rapper on the original PlayStation, seen above. First released in 1996, creator Masaya Matsuura helped pioneer the genre and started the huge explosion in Japan that saw hugely influential titles like Dance Dance Revolution, beatmania, GuitarFreaks, DrumMania, and many others. Since Harmonix opened up the genre in America, you can see how those titles had a hand in creating the upcoming Scratch: The Ultimate DJ and mainstream hits like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. But PaRappa proved that the genre could be just as fun with a standard controller. Niche titles like Gitaroo Man, Rez, and Space Channel 5 helped shape the genre in the US, but it wasn't until Harmonix came along that things really took off.

Harmonix laid down the groundwork for Guitar Hero with the cult titles, Frequency and Amplitude. The latter shares a very similar interface to current GH/RB games, and will definitely have a hand in shaping the upcoming Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP. Their work on the Karaoke Revolution series became a huge hit way before games like SingStar or Lips came along. And as Rock Band became a culmination of their hard work, they are looking ahead with the Beatles Game set to release later this year.

There are so many great things happening in the genre, and it really is an exciting time at least for me, personally. So many good games are coming down the pipeline with Scratch: The Ultimate DJ and Activision's DJ Hero set to try and emulate beatmania's success. Check the full article at the link below.

Source: Ars Technica

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