I did search for a music game catch-all (to no avail!) so I’m throwing something out here to either be redirected to the right thread, or to hopefully call up some more music games to check out. I don't tend to see people clamoring for these and I need some like minds to help me search and review.
Here are the ones that I have played so far (with short notes and links to some example gameplay):
Amplitude (PS2): Sequel to Frequency, you would complete music tracks by hitting trigger buttons on the controller, I didn’t think it was an neat as the tube constructions you navigate in Frequency but it had a lot of charm on its own
Audiosurf 2 (PC): So far as I can tell you flail around and try to collect globs of color while avoiding spikes (I’m not fantastic at this game). Someone can enlighten me to how you “win” this, but it’s been a fine chill out game when I’m looking for a no brainer. Reminds me of Amplitude with less structure.
Beatmania (PC, Arcade, & PS2): I knew I was in trouble when the game came with a keyboard. I was much more successful at playing this on an emulator prior to its US release. The turn table portions of songs were always the hardest to work in naturally.
Bit. Trip Core (PC): Not the first rhythm shooter I've played, but also not my favorite.
Bit. Trip Runner (PC): I like platforming and I like music games so this was a natural win for me, however the fact that a single error in the level will return you to the start makes this an exercise in patience as well. The Bit. Trip games in general have been ok, but I still like this one the best of their offerings. I haven’t played the sequel, yet.
Crypt of the Necrodancer (PC): Music driven roguelike, it has its own thread so I don’t need to say more than that I think. Super fun!
Dance Dance Revolution (PS2 & Arcade): Original, 2nd Mix, 3rd Mix, Extreme, Supernova, etc., I have always had a better time playing this in an arcade than on dance pads at home. When playing at home I would frequently use a controller instead of the pads because I liked just tapping out the patterns and it was still a good time. This game introduced me to Eurodance music as a genre, for good or ill.
Donkey Konga (GameCube): Didn’t play a lot of this, the bongo controllers were very awkward.
Electronic Super Joy (PC): 1 and 2, Another music driven platformer, very much geared towards people who liked Super Meat Boy or I Wanna be the Guy kinds of platforming and happen to also like awesome techno. The beat sometimes drives certain mechanics so I think it belongs in this list
Elite Beat Agents (DS): I basically bought a DS to play this. Was amused by a tapping rhythm game but it didn’t entice me to play it more than once after I beat it. Didn’t end up keeping the DS.
Frequency (PS2): I bought this for $3 at a Kmart and played it more hours than any single Final Fantasy game I owned. You complete tracks by pressing trigger buttons while navigating a tube. Playing this game was meditation for me, and I would enter a trance-like state when completing levels. I have never been so relaxed playing a game since this one. I’m convinced this game actually got me through the stress of college thesis writing more than anything else in my life.
Gitaroo Man (PS2): Weird combination of button pressing and analog stick navigation, but the music was catchy and the crazy plot made me smile. Mostly lives on in my memory for giving you badges in a section called your Collection. When I get badges in other games I still think “Collect get!” to myself.
Guitar Hero (PS2): Original, II, III, Also known as “How I hurt my wrist that one summer.” This was how I learned to love Through Fire and Flames. A significant portion of my joy from this game ended up coming from people posting YouTube videos of perfect runs of ridiculous expert mode songs. I prefer Rock Band, but this is still a fun game.
In the Groove (Arcade): 1 and 2, DDR clone but with catchier music. Seems to be friendlier to people hooking their computers into arcade machines to play their own content and share scores with the community. First game where I had to use my hands on the dance pad to complete songs (clever mechanics!).
Micron (PC): Beat based puzzle game. Completing puzzles corresponds with holding to the beat the puzzle is based on, so I think it still makes the cut as a music game.
PaRappa the Rapper (PS1 & PS2): 1 and 2, Press buttons to the beat to make a dog rap. Less insane than it sounds, and I have friends who still can do the raps in their entirety we played this so much in the early days. The sequel was not on par with the original.
Para Para Paradise (Arcade): If anything defines my arcade music game experience, I’d say this did. I played a Para Para Paradise 2nd Mix so many times I had many of the dances flat out memorized and can complete them a decade later. The fact that I will probably never see one of these machines in person again makes me sad to this day. I have considered buying a machine but I have nowhere to put it, and that would be ridiculous to spend thousands for something that would have to go in a storage locker.
Pump It Up (Arcade): Korean version of DDR but the pad is configured differently (look at a DDR dance pad, imagine everything that is an arrow is solid and everything that is solid has become a viable button, including the center). Had a good time with this until it disappeared from the local arcade.
Rez (PS2): I know this game is infamous for its, ah, special accessory… but I only owned the game itself. A first person rhythm shooter, I mostly remember it being super fun until the last boss, (which forced you to face all the previous bosses with no break and no intermediate power ups). I never beat this one.
Rock Band (Xbox): 1, 2, 3, Some of the best times I have with friends involves Rock Band 3 and I know there are threads out there for these games, so I don’t think I need to add much. I play this about once a week for hours on end. Gold stars!
Samba de Amigo (Dreamcast): Fun I guess, but a game featuring maracas is about on par with a game featuring bongos in that the controllers themselves got in the way of the gameplay.
Space Channel 5 (PS2): 1 and 2, Simon says to a beat, I was obsessed with these games in college. My housemates wanted to kill me for playing it as much as I did. Between this game (up down right left chu chu chu!) and Eternal Darkness (pargon pargon pargon!) I was chasing them out of the living room through pure repetitive annoyance. But completing challenges gives out outfits… OUTFITS. They had me at Space Michael.
Super Hexagon (PC): Navigate a fast moving puzzle driven by a techno beat. This plays out more like a reflex test than most music games and while I like the concept, I’m not usually up to the challenge of this one. My fast twitch is not fast enough.
Symphonica (iPhone): A Squeenix game where you tap out beats as if you were conducting an orchestra, (very enjoyable!) this reminded me you can have a great music game without any techno present.
Taiko no Tatsujin (Arcade): I only played this in arcades, but pretending to be a taiko drummer is very entertaining. Blew a heap of yen on this when I lived in Japan. Even more entertaining while drunk.
UmJammer Lammy (PS1): Parappa done better, very catchy music and great replay value. This was the only game where I reached that psychedelic freestyle bonus you get from jamming out and it felt like an achievement before achievements were a thing.
Unison: Rebels of Rhythm & Dance (PS2): This was a “dance” game before motion capture and required you to memorize whole songs before “performing” them with no memory aid after a practice round using the analog sticks. This is one of the few rhythm games that actively pissed me off from bad conceptualizing, and lives on as “worst music game to date” when I tell people about it.
Music games I want to play:
Bust a Groove
Please let me know if there’s any super great music games you can recommend to me that I might have missed out on in this list! I can keep them on my radar to pick up for the future. (^___^)
If you don’t agree with something I said above or you would like to further recommend something that I didn’t do justice to, by all means let’s discuss! I love talking about what mechanics work in these sorts of games and what don’t. This is my game genre obsession and I’m hoping there’s others out there like me.
It feels like music games had a golden age in the early 2000s and now I’m just chasing the dream…