11 Rhythm Games Like Guitar Hero

Image credit: Steam

Guitar Hero is one of the most popular rhythm games ever made. Alongside other genre originators like Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar is beloved by hardcore veterans and casual players alike.

If you’re a fan of Guitar Hero, chances are that you’re on the lookout for more games with excellent rhythm based gameplay, unique mechanics, and a great song list. Luckily for you, there’s a heap of great options and we’ve compiled them into this list.

Here are 11 rhythm games like Guitar Hero that you’re sure to love. They don’t all have unique controllers like Guitar Hero (some do) but they do all offer great music, rhythm based gameplay, and fun, challenging mechanics.

11. Donkey Konga

Kicking things off, we have the master of the bongos himself, Donkey Kong. Donkey Konga is more or less a reskin of the popular Japanese drumming game Taiko no Tatsujin.

The set of DK bongos that you can play along with really take this game to another level of fun. Pounding the bongos and clapping in real life really make this game what it is.

The only downside to Donkey Konga would be its subpar song selection. You would think that a game like this would have a plethora of Nintendo soundtracks to choose from. But, in reality, the game has a small mix of video game songs, real-life anthems, and nursery rhymes.

All in all, if you are looking for a fun rhythm game time sink that utilizes the DK bongos, Donkey Konga is your best option. The song choice isn’t the best, but the unique mechanics and use of the controller make this game a delight.

10. Frets on Fire

Frets on Fire might be a bit of a cheat when it comes to being placed on a list of Guitar Hero alternatives. This is a Guitar Hero skin, but it’s worth including nonetheless as it offers a fantastic selection of songs and a community-driven experience.

Frets on Fire is a Guitar Hero skin compatible with both the keyboard and the standard Guitar Hero guitar. However, almost every song imaginable is available for download here.

With a community-driven game like Frets on Fire, the only limits are the endless storage space of the internet and the combined free time of the countless players!

Furthermore, if a song you really like isn’t available to download, why not try mapping it yourself? All the songs on Frets on Fire are community-based, so you can add to the fun and create a song for the community yourself.

9. Friday Night Funkin’

Friday Night Funkin’ is a great community-driven rhythm game with tons of customizable options. There are lots of great mods for the game to change up the style, background characters, and cursors.

Lots of other creations have also been made in the game’s engine, including a full Undertale-inspired adventure.

Friday Night Funkin’ is an open-source indie title originally developed by four people. The game is largely community-driven, meaning that there is no end in sight to how high this game can fly.

If you enjoy traditional PC-based WASD or arrow key rhythm gaming madness, Friday Night Funkin’ is the game for you! It’s a great pick for fans of games like Guitar Hero and is worth checking out today.

8. StepMania

StepMania is the next best thing for those not wanting to travel to real-life arcades in order to play Dance Dance Revolution, and it’s a good pick for Guitar Hero fans too.

StepMania is a computer port of the original DDR game. Sets of arrows will travel up the screen, and you must time your presses as they reach the top.

Traditionally, these kinds of games require a dance mat. Players usually need to physically stand and stamp their feet in time to the music. Thankfully, those not interested in breaking a sweat while playing their rhythm games don’t need to worry when it comes to StepMania.

This being a PC port means that the game is entirely compatible with keyboard controls! It’s easy to get into but still offers plenty of challenge for rhythm game veterans. Fans of games like Guitar Hero are sure to love it.

7. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memories

Kingdom Hearts veterans will remember an unusual departure from the second game’s action combat upon reaching a certain underwater stage. Kingdom Hearts II’s Atlantis has become infamous among the player base for being a terrible minigame section with even worse original music.

So, have you ever wondered what that rhythm game section would be like if it were actually good? If you have, look no further than Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memories.

In this game, you will play through the original Kingdom Hearts game, reliving key moments but with a rhythm game twist.

While traveling through the different worlds on rails, you will have to hit enemies in time to the music in order to progress. Notes will appear in the form of heartless for you to take down with your keyblade and other combinations of attacks.

Games like Kingdom Hearts III will continue the Kingdom Hearts legacy, but it is always nice to chill out sometimes with spin-offs like this. The game features tons of levels and the amazing Kingdom Hearts original score for you to test your rhythmic skills.

6. Beat Saber

Beat Saber is the modern equivalent of Guitar Hero. Playable in VR, players must slash notes as they come flying at you in a 3D space.

Beat Saber is more than just your average rhythm game, it is a full-blown workout! You must use your entire body when playing this game, and it isn’t too crazy to work up a sweat after a single song. There are different difficulty modes to explore, too.

Beat Saber has a huge community actively creating different mods and mapping new songs. The game is also very customizable, with plenty of opportunities for you to tailor the graphics to your liking.

When it comes to VR-based rhythm games, there aren’t really any other options that can contend with Beat Saber. The game is incredibly polished and responsive, with no chance of frustrating losses due to poor motion controls.

If you loved Guitar Hero and want to play in VR, Beat Saber is definitely a game you should consider checking out! It’s one of the best indie games on Steam and fans of games like Guitar Hero are sure to get a kick out of it.

5. PaRappa the Rapper

PaRappa the Rapper is a charming rhythm game in which you must match the lyrics of your partner by timing button presses effectively.

PaRappa the Rapper has a ton of unique characters, each with their own designs, personalities, and voices. These all play into the equally unique songs which are the core of the game.

PaRappa the Rapper is a different kind of rhythm game. Instead of having a library of songs that you can choose to play at any time you want, the game chooses to take players through an adventure mode. On your journey while playing as PaRappa, you will encounter the loveable cast and rap duets with them.

PaRappa the Rapper is somewhat of a cult classic. It spawned only a single sequel (known as PaRappa the Rapper 2) and a spinoff known as Um Jammer Lammy. Both games feature a new cast of characters, while the latter also has a new protagonist.

The original game has been ported to various consoles over the years, including the PS4 and PSP. If you enjoy unique rhythm games and like playing through story modes filled with colorful characters, PaRappa the Rapper is the best Guitar Hero alternative for you.

4. Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Mega Mix+

Project DIVA is an incredibly popular set of rhythm games featuring a wide variety of Vocaloid songs. One of the great aspects of this game series, in particular, is being able to see the performances of popular Vocaloids in the background during your play session.

Hatsune Miku is a fan favorite character in the anime sphere and, alongside other Vocaloids like Rin, Len, IA, and several others, the wide cast makes each song you play feel that much more like a performance.

This isn’t to suggest that Vocaloids are the only appeal of playing Project DIVA by any means. The rhythm gameplay here is incredibly fun.

There are tons of different rhythm game modes to try out here, from traditional timed button presses to large bars that you need to hit while navigating across the bottom of the screen. If you play the game on Nintendo Switch, you can also add motion controls into the mix for even more of a challenge.

At this point, Project DIVA has been alive and kicking for over ten years. There are hundreds of catchy songs for you to try out here and newer ones released all the time.

Finally, this game is very customizable as you can dress up each Vocaloid in a variety of different costumes. This does nothing to affect the overall gameplay but is still a fun thing to play around with between songs.

3. Cadence of Hyrule – Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda

Cadence of Hyrule is an oddity among Zelda spinoffs. Mainstays like Link’s Crossbow Training or Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland are thought of as strange diversions from the main series or surprisingly fun games in their own right. However, Cadence of Hyrule never seems to crop up in these said discussions.

Despite this, Cadence of Hyrule is an incredibly fun game that expertly blends action adventure with rhythm gameplay. It’s one of the best action-adventure games on Switch that includes music-based gameplay, however niche that category might be.

Each beat of the remixed Zelda music gives either Link or Zelda a chance to move, pick up an item, defend themselves, or attack an enemy. Be careful, however, because enemies will also be moving along to the beat, and missing a beat can leave you vulnerable to attack.

Almost every staple Zelda item makes a return here, including bombs, arrows, bombchus, and Hover Boots. Plenty of new items make an appearance to spice up the gameplay even further. Some of these items are of limited use, making it vital for you to plan your moves accordingly.

One of the best things about Cadence of Hyrule is that each map in the game is randomly generated. This makes the game infinitely replayable, as no two playthroughs will ever be the same.

The Legend of Zelda soundtrack has always been one of the game series’ defining features. To bring such classic tunes to the world of rhythm games sounds like a no-brainer. However, doing so in such a creative way with so much attention to detail regarding the game’s pixel art world is just icing on the cake.

Also, be sure to check out the original game this title takes inspiration from (Crypt of the NecroDancer) for even more rhythmic RPG goodness. Lovers of games like Guitar Hero are sure to find a lot of fun in that title as well.

2. Taiko no Tatsujin

Taiko no Tatsujin is one of the most popular rhythm games in Japan. The game is traditionally played on a large drum with two drumsticks. Players must strike the drum in time to the music while also hitting their drumsticks together.

While it is less than realistic to fit your home with a large electronic drum, there are plenty of other ways for you to get drumming.

If you choose to play Taiko no Tatsujin on PC, it is super easy to map each part of the drum to a different key. Additionally, if you choose to play Taiko no Tatsujin on a console like the Nintendo Switch, you can use each joycon’s motion controls to hit the drum.

There are plenty of different modes for you to test your drumming ability in Taiko no Tatsujin, and plenty of great songs to play through.

While several anime and Vocaloid songs will make an appearance in this game, you can also play through several video game songs as well. These include the ever-popular MEGALOVANIA as well as an orchestral rendition of the Legend of Zelda opening.

1. OSU

When it comes to overall popularity, thriving fanbase, and downloadable songs, none do it quite like OSU. Games like Osu are few and far between.

OSU is, for the most part, an anime-style rhythm game in which players can tap circles at varying speeds to some of their favorite anime tracks.

There are certainly lots of different songs to play that aren’t anime related, but the overall design, skins, and community are made up of anime aesthetics made by anime enthusiasts.

Aside from the great rhythm gameplay that can be found in OSU, the levels of customization in this game are astounding. Players can change everything from their cursor, the client skin, and even the sound your cursor makes when tapping a note.

OSU is an incredibly popular rhythm game with a thriving community. Players looking for an enjoyable time sink will have hours of fun with the millions of available beatmaps.

However, those looking to improve their skill can have fun climbing the leaderboards. Additionally, there are separate rankings for playing OSU beat maps using a wide variety of different mods. These mods range from darkening the entire screen aside from a small light around your cursor, playing at double the regular speed, or not having a single missed result.

Finally, another great thing about OSU is that there are several other games built into it. For example, it is possible to play a version of Taiko no Tatsujin directly in the OSU client.

All in all, OSU has something for everyone, and while you don’t have to be an anime fan to enjoy playing OSU, it sure does help. If you want something similar to Guitar Hero but not exactly the same, you’ll love this game.

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