There Are No Music Games. There Are Only Rhythm Ones.

Illustration for article titled There Are No Music Games. There Are Only Rhythm Ones.

PaRappa the Rapper designer Masaya Matsuura has been called the father of music games. Thing is, he doesn't believe there are music games.

"Strictly speaking I do not believe that 'Music Games' as a genre really exists yet," Matsuura recently told Kotaku. "We just have 'Rhythm Games.'"

This isn't the first time Matsuura has said this, but it's worth bringing up again, due to the broad brush strokes that rhythm games are painted with. Matsuura, a musician himself, is acutely aware of the difference between music and rhythm.


Before Matsuura made classic titles like PaRappa and Vib-Ribbon, he was a recording artist with Sony, releasing numerous albums and playing stadiums.

Matsuura's music, such as "Angel Night", was used for anime and TV dramas.

Currently, Matsuura and his studio NanaOn-Sha are finishing up Kinect title Haunt for Xbox Live. It's set in a haunted house, and, while not a straight up rhythm game, it does have rhythm elements.

"We can't really grow the genre until we have some games that explore areas of music other than just rhythm," Matsuura added. "I really want us to help overcome this deficiency."


When asked hypothetically what type of game he'd like to make, Matsuura replied that he be keen to do "something that features extremely accurate musical performance animation."

"As an example, if we could zoom in and see lifelike fingerwork in an animated pianist, the opportunities afforded to uncover and develop new methods of playing beyond the capabilities of humans would be a crucial step in musical evolution," said Matsuura. "The ability of 'games' to allow us to take part in such advances is crucial."


And it's crucial to have creators like Matsuura make those advances happen.

(Top photo: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku)

You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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Music Rhythm Games Are Dead. Nothing will bring them back. They will never be as popular as they once were. The majority of gamers out there probably just don't care about them enough anymore to even buy them. Even with new innovation in the genre. Look at Rockband 3's Pro Modes. How many people actually ran out and bought new instruments besides the bundled keyboard? Then how many of those people actually took the time to go through each difficulty of pro mode to learn said instrument. Now how many of those people can actually play said instrument without the cascade of falling gems? I bet you can most likely count them on your hands. Anyone who makes another music rhythm game akin to GH and RB is dumping money into nothing. The public will show them how useless that effort was by not buying it. Like I said the genre is dead. You wanna play instrument go out and fucking learn how to play. Invest in real instruments. The practice your ass off. You're never going to learn or even get the satisfaction from learning to play from a plastic instrument.