By Leaana Khan
Image credit: idoljuns
Rhythm games are a genre of music-themed video games that challenge a player’s sense of rhythm by requiring them to input controls to the beat of a song. When someone hears the term “rhythm game”, they may first think of games like guitar hero or just dance. While these games are great and widely successful, they aren’t what I’m going to talk about here. Instead, this will highlight free-to-play mobile-based virtual idol rhythm games. Specifically, we’ll focus on BanG Dream! (more commonly known as Bandori), D4DJ Groovy Mix, and Project Sekai: Colorful Stage!
In terms of gameplay, these three games are fairly similar. Each game consists of story events, gacha, and the main rhythm games. Each game has a main story that follows all the characters. The games feature large casts that are separated into units/bands and each unit has their own side story that revolves around the characters in it. “The events are a fun way to reach goals in the gameplay,” says sophomore, Ramin Patwary. Each game gets new events that last slightly longer than a week that bring new story events, character cards, and music. “I think they’re very interesting because there’s so many different kinds of characters to relate to and get to love,” says sophomore, Jena Drabenstadt. For a lot of people, the cast and story is the main appeal of the games.
For others, the gacha system keeps them playing. Players use in-game currency to roll for cards of varying value and rarity. These cards contain beautiful art of characters and go towards the scoring system of the rhythm game. Along with the art, unlocking these cards unlocks two new story events that involve the characters in the card and the story event they came from. When asked about her favorite aspects of the game, Ramin said, “I like the gacha in BanG Dream, It’s not as mean as other games. Especially during the dream fests, they give you a lot of opportunities to get good stuff.”
For all three games, the main attraction is the rhythm game and music. In all of them, the game mostly consists of tapping, sliding, and flicking notes as they fall down the screen in time with the music. Of course, each game has their minor differences. “The songs are really good, and you learn to tap fast,” says Ramin. The base system of gameplay is one that’s very simple to understand, and yet difficult to master. This makes improving at the game an immensely gratifying and fun experience. All the beatmaps are well made and feel nicely on beat with the music. The song selection in each game is expansive and is full of famous and recognizable songs from things like anime and video games. “You can listen to and play all your favorite songs,” says Jena.
The units in each game have their own original songs that are all amazing and have their own distinct styles. Some of the units have concerts in real life that have the voice actors perform these songs with their character’s instruments. The games also feature immense libraries of cover songs where a unit will cover a famous song. These range from anime openings, to j-pop hits. The covers add each unit’s unique flair and are often better than the originals. Project Sekai is slightly different, as all the covers are songs that are originally vocaloid. Both Bandori and D4DJ cover regular songs and vocaloid songs. This isn’t to say that one is better though, all of the song selections hold up against each other. Some of the songs in Project Sekai and Bandori have wonderful animated music videos featuring the characters that perform the songs. Some of the MVs have 3D animation and others are animated in 2D.
All in all, mobile rhythm games are a fun way to interact with cool music. The games have a lot of thought put into all the aspects, and there’s a strong sense of achievement when you improve at the games.