ARTICLE: Cheap Games, Good Music

Cheap Games, Good Music

By blizzvalve

It has become apparent that music games have grown in popularity within the last 5 years. Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band lead the way in bringing licensed music to gaming and having people pretend they’re actually playing a real instrument. However, due to the bad economy, music games have gone in the slumps.

The main problem with the new Guitar Hero and Rock Band games are the price. In order to fully play the games, you would need to buy the game and the instruments (games cost $60 each, instruments cost from $30-$100 each, bundles will cost around $100-$200). Even when you get the game, you may only like 20 songs in the setlist, so if you want new songs, you’ll have to buy more games. However, new Guitar Hero and (especially) Rock Band have a large selection of downloadable songs for you to play. Each song costs $2 each, but in the end, it all adds up.

In this economy, people cannot afford to pay hundreds to support their music gaming habits. That is why games like DJ Hero have failed in sales. However, people still want to play a game that goes along with music, so they’ll have a rich gaming experience while listening to their favorite songs. There are a few cheap alternatives to the average Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. Here is a list of three games for you to enjoy.

You see this? It’s your wallet. It’s thanking you for listening to me.

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Price: Free

To start things off, let’s talk about a free game. Frets on Fire is a freeware game for the PC, Mac, and Linux. It is a Guitar Hero-like game with tons of customization. Although there are only three songs included with the game, you’ll be able to download hundreds of songs online, free of charge. This is because you are able to create your own songs and upload them on the internet for others to try. You can take cl@ssic or new songs from your files and be able to make tracks to them. However, the editor only accepts .ogg files (which is used for Linux). This may be a problem for some, but with tons of file converters out on the web, you’ll be able to make tracks with ease.

What you look like when you play Frets on Fire

Another part of this game which makes it unique is you’re able to change the skins of the tracks. There are tools out there where you’ll be able to make the game look like anything you want. There are tons of skins online where you can make the game look like a standard Guitar Hero or Rock Band game. It is completely useless to change the skin, but it’s a good feature if you want your game to look nicer.

One big complaint about this game is you have to use a keyboard to play the notes. This puts you into an awkward position where you have to hold the keyboard the same way as you hold the guitar. If you ever play this game in public, you’ll look like an idiot. Another complaint is the button layout. Although you can change it, the standard button layout for the notes is F1-F5. If you notice there is a huge gap between the F4 and the F5 keys. It is very difficult to stretch your pinky over to that area and you’ll be missing a lot of notes. If you don’t want to use the keyboard, you can always plug in a Guitar Hero controller and it will work fine. Also, like I said before, you can change the button layout so you can play the game in any ****you want.

You can change the game from looking like this…

…into this.

Platforms: Playstation 3

Price: $3

Although the PS3 is gaining momentum, it still has issues. Although this is a minor one, it’s still a pain. When you’re playing a game, you can’t listen to the music you have saved on your hard drive or what you have on your MP3 players. The Xbox 360 has this feature and had it since the beginning. My question is why doesn’t Sony release an update that allows music to play while playing games? This may be a good start for the PS3 gamers.

.detuned is a music game released on the Playstation Network. It’s a cheap, quirky game where you’re able to play music saved onto your hard drive and MP3 players and be able to mix the sound. With the selection of features available, you can make your music sound as grainy or as trippy as you want it.

Noseybonk will end us all

What makes this game stand out is the guy in the suit. All he does is sit in that little chair with all of these cutesy figures around him. Why is he there? I don’t know. Apparently the music changes him into all of these weird creatures like a mushroom, a balloon, a ghost, Noseybonk, and many others. In these forms you are able to control the guy the guy in the suit and make him dance around his chair. You can also change his environment by making it all gray or psychedelic.

Not necessarily a music game, it still is a very interesting game. As you can play around with the options and making the guy do your bidding, you’ll be able to listen to your favorite tunes (what many other games are lacking on the PS3). Along with its cheap price point and the fact that you can unlock all the trophies in this game in a matter of minutes, I highly recommend PS3 owners who are a fan of music to get this game.

You know a game is good when you can do the Elephant dance.

Platform: Windows (Steam)

Price: $10

I’ve saved the best for last: Audiosurf. It is my personal favorite music game. For those who don’t know what this game is, Audiosurf is a rhythm game made by an independent studio called BestGameEver. It is distributed on Steam for only a mere $10. It is probably the best $10 you’re ever going to spend on a rhythm game.

How Audiosurf works is it scans all of your songs that you have on your hard drive (either as .mp3, .wma, or any other sound file) and converts it into a track. Depending on the sound quality of your file, it will create a perfect track every time. How it works is the game scans a song you choose. If there are any slow parts, the track will slope upwards and the blocks on the track will appear purple or blue. If there are any fast parts, the track will slope downwards with the blocks appearing red or yellow. As you may expect, the faster the song is, the harder it will be.

The track is also molded by the vocals and instruments that are in each song. What usually depends the speed in a track is how loud, how fast, and how intense a song is. Along with that, when you hear drums, hills will appear on the track. Sometimes there are sharp turns and you can even loop upside down.

The main goal with this game is to collect the colored pieces and match them together in order for them to disappear and to gain points. If a song is slow it will be hard to gain a ton of points since purple blocks are not worth a lot. If a song is very fast it will be difficult to gain points because it’s hard to catch the red blocks in time.

Beautiful scenery is a big plus

There are many different ships to play as (each having their own game mode and difficulty). This expands the game by letting you try out an assortment of features. Mono mode makes you collect the colored blocks and avoid the gray blocks. Pointman lets you mix and match colors in order to gain points. Double Vision lets two people play at the same time and take control of 2 rows.

Like the other two games, you’re able to change the scenery. In the options, you can make the game look as trippy as you want it to be. You’re able to change the background, change the sounds, and change the track. It gives you the ability to change the track in order to make it more fitting for the song.

This game overall is the perfect rhythm game for any person. Its stunning visuals and perfect synchronization with the songs makes it a must for all music fans.

Not a good idea to fill the grid with gray blocks like that


Overall, if you’re a fan of music, then these games are for you. With these games, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars so you can play the few songs you like. With these games, you’re able to play all the songs you like.

Sure with these games, you’ll not get the same experience as a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, pretending to be some big rock star with a plastic guitar, but for $10 or less, I highly recommend people to try these games out.