Whether it’s tapping a rubber turntable or soloing a plastic guitar to Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” — every player has indulged in a rhythm game in one way or another. Of course, when I use the term “old school”, I mean it as in using plastic add-ons as opposed to new-tech that requires zero physical attachments. That’s where the money was in 2005, anyway.
Around the time when Guitar Hero stormed the world, developers were always looking for ways to dethrone the iconic rockstar simulator. DJ-ing became a gaming trend, and soon followed plenty of other music-based titles that required bulky add-ons to play. Now, that era has since faded, what with VR taking control of the industry — but we’re always willing to set aside a little time for our plastic party-starters. Even in 2021, these iconic rhythm games still home many happy memories.
Now, who’s got the AA batteries?
5. Dance Dance Revolution
I’ll admit, plucking out a single entry from the Dance Dance Revolution series is a weighty challenge. After all, the arcade sensation has been smashing out hits ever since its debut in 1998. Following on from the uprise of dancing rhythm games, companies have tried to recreate titles that match the same level of appeal as Dance Dance Revolution. Unsurprisingly, however, its the 1998 game-changer and its several sequels that still wear the crown. Even if it’s a simple plastic mat on your living room floor — Dance Dance Revolution still boasts endless fun that can be enjoyed by players and families all over the globe. Plus, it’s a hell of a workout.
4. Band Hero
Following on from the global success of Guitar Hero, developer Neversoft looked to expand on the platform by incorporating new instruments to the fold. Of course, this wasn’t technically a new thing in the world of music rhythm games, as Rock Band implemented the use of drums and karaoke in their 2007 hit. However, that being said, Band Hero did share its impressive selection of playable tracks, as well as give players the opportunity to import songs from other libraries within the Hero domain. All in all, Band Hero did make for some serious fun around the house and at parties. It’s just a shame Neversoft decided to scrap the series after its first wave.
3. DJ Hero
While covering the Hero empire of the list, it’s only right that we take a wander over to the more unusual add-ons to the library. DJ Hero, although amounting to minor success compared to its six-stringed (or five-buttoned) brother, was able to give players a brand new experience with the same iconic interface. Only, unlike Guitar Hero, which opted for a rock and roll backdrop and nothing more, DJ Hero looked to flesh-out the score with genres of all backgrounds. This made the ambitious disc jockey port an excellent counterpart to the franchise and an overall memorable experience to anyone who had the luxury of playing it. So, a worthy entry in our books.
2. Rock Band 3
If you were around the music rhythm scene in 2010, then you’ll know that Rock Band was probably the most critically-acclaimed music series of the generation. While often struggling to make par with the rival Guitar Hero franchise, Rock Band was always quick to adapt to new mechanics and include even more content for every addition. Players could customise their very own rockstar and work their way up from rags to riches on an awe-inspiring musical conquest. Tracks became unlockable through hard work and persistence, and every little minor detail thrown in by MTV never made us feel short of being a total god to the genre.
1. Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock
We have to give credit where it’s due — and, in this case, we definitely think it’s due. While Guitar Hero has published an entire catalogue of games with shifting soundtracks, we can’t help but fondly recall the adventures we had during our time on the road with Legends of Rock. Say, having to battle Tom Morello or Slash, for example. Or, maybe even having to surpass the devil’s highest expectations over a cutthroat battle of the axes in the deepest depths of Hell. It was all there — and we couldn’t help but play through that entire tour ten times over — if only for the stunning Dragonforce finisher alone. That’s where many of us fell in love with the franchise — and many cradled the plastic guitar like it was the mightiest weapon known to mankind.