Added on April 30, 2021
Audiosurf , Dance Dance Revolution , driving games , Guitar Hero , Lanes , Music , Music Racer , Rhythm games , Riff Racer , Rock Band , Rythym
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If you grew up during the back half of the 1990s or the mid-2000s — or have kids who did — odds are you’re aware of rhythm games. On the off-chance that you’re not, they’re interactive experiences that ask you to perform specific actions that match up with on-screen cues, often set to music. Think Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero. As it turns out, the rhythm game genre pairs perfectly with driving games.
Feel the rhythm of the road: Experience the all-new 2021 Buick Envision
Many rhythm games adopt a common format — a set of lanes that stretch forward into the distance. As the player, your job is to switch lanes at the appropriate time to land on a trigger in tempo with the background music. In the case of popular games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band — which, in retrospect, is a pretty lazy name — the lanes are physically represented on the plastic guitar you use as a controller. If you see a green icon on the far-left track, you press green when the note gets close enough. Is an orange bar approaching on the far right? Hit that orange button in time with the song.
Hey, you’re a smart person. After all, you’re taking the time to actually read written words. So I don’t think I need to explain the relevance of the term “lane,” which is something you should be familiar with if you’ve ever been in a vehicle. That being the case, it makes perfect sense to design a rhythm game around cars that need to slide from left to right along preordained tracks. Plus, since a lot of drivers — myself included — love to listen to music on the road, there’s a level of synchronicity at play that just works.
Don’t just take my word for it — there are a lot of rhythm games out there that came up with this idea long before I did. One prominent example is appropriately entitled Music Racer, which generates stages based on the music being played. That idea was popularized by properties like Audiosurf and Audiosurf 2, which doesn’t technically feature a car but does allow you to import your own tunes to create bespoke levels. A game called Riff Racer—which does feature cars—adopts a similar format.
At this point, I feel like it’s incumbent upon me to say that swapping lanes like Crash Bandicoot with a vendetta is tremendously dangerous and profoundly unsafe. If you’re going to sync up your driving to music, it’s best to stick to a digital car.
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<– This is what Aaron actually looks like.
Aaron was born in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio and has managed to traverse most of the state between college and various shenanigans. Having majored in video game development and minored in film studies, he is a considerable fan of both forms of media. Additionally, he is available to explain why Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best feminist films of all time at the drop of a hat. His aspirations include — but are not limited to — not accidentally adopting any more cats and developing a responsible sleep schedule. See more articles by Aaron.