6 Games Like Rock Band [Recommendations]

Ever wanted to jam to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radio Head, Metallica, Nirvana and many other legendary bands but you didn’t know how to play an instrument until now? Then Harmonix’s Rock Band series gives you that chance to do so! Rock Band serves as an extension of the Guitar Hero series, and Rock Band includes not only the guitar, but also the options to play the drums, bass, and have a singer. The game was further popularized in an episode of South Park when the cast performed Lady Gaga’s, Poker Face, and the song was later included in the actual game thanks to that episode. So, in addition to Rock Band, what other games are there to try out that allows you to perform through video games? Please read our 6 Games Like Rock Band to find out!

Similar Anime to Rock Band

1. Guitar Hero Live

  • Platform: Multiplatform
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: FreeStyleGames
  • Release Date: Oct 20, 2015

As stated in the intro, Rock Band serves as an extension of Guitar Hero, which used to have affiliations with Harmonix but its licensing has been the subject of change when it was first released 10 years ago. However, its latest release was developed by FreeStyleGames and thankfully, it keeps the same layout as the original Guitar Hero. And if you are familiar with Rock Band’s guitar gameplay, Guitar Hero is pretty much the same. Notes will scroll down to the bottom of the screen and once they sync with a bar, you press the corresponding button. And while most music games have CG footage accompanying the songs, Guitar Hero Live uses live action footage for a more immersive experience.

However, its button layout in this latest version offers something more realistic as opposed to the traditional red, blue, yellow, orange, green or any other multi-color layout. It just has six buttons at the tip of the guitar all brown for you to press for a more realistic experience. So if you’re more color coordinated, this may be a potential challenge for you. But thankfully, the game gives you the options to play with 3 keys to ease you into it. Some songs that you may enjoy on its Guitar Hero TV feature, you can download if the default songs of "Wastelands" by Linkin Park or "Here’s to Never Giving Up" by Avril Lavigne. If those are not your taste, there're also "All the Small Things" by Blink 182, "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest, and "Freak on a Leash" by Korn. So for you metal heads, Guitar Hero Live or any previous version may be the game for you. Last, just like Rock Band, South Park once made an episode about Guitar Hero.

Guitar Hero Live trailer


2. Dance Dance Revolution

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Platform: Multi-platform
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: Nov 21, 1998

Kicking off the music genre craze internationally probably has to be Dance Dance Revolution. While the series took off in international arcades from the 2000s, it made its initial debut in Japan in 1998 where it received instant fame. For its time, it was truly revolutionary with its set up by having players perform in front of other attendees watching if you go to the arcade. It definitely was the last hurrah for arcades outside of Japan. Due to the physicality of the game in conjunction with the level of difficulty, it was considered good exercise by many of those who played. In fact, some schools in the US actually used it in their fitness programs to encourage students to get into shape.

While Rock Band mostly features songs familiar to international audiences, DDR tends to use some in-house musicians from Konami as well as lesser-known performers from the European scene. Through the 3rd Mix edition, it heavily features songs by German singing duo E-Rotic. And judging by their name and the fact that they’re German, many of their featured songs like "Do It All Night" and "Gimme Your Love" contains lyrics that are comically explicit. In other editions, it contains English covers/remixes of some famous anime songs such as Sobakasu from Rurouni Kenshin and the theme song to Cat’s Eye.

The game is easy to pick up but difficult to master. At the top of the screen has the four arrows on the stage pad and when the music starts, the corresponding arrows with scroll up. Once those arrows sync with the top arrows, step on the matching arrow to get your groove on. So if you want something along the lines of club music, DDR is the game for you.

Dance Dance Revolution Trailer


3. KeyboardMania

  • Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 2
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: 2000

While the original NES had its keyboard controller 30 years ago, Konami once again expanded into this territory with KeyboardMania. As the title suggests, players of any levels regardless of any familiarity with they keyboard and/or piano can easily enjoy this title. While KeyboardMania’s arcade cabinet and home controller are both 24 keys, home versions can allow players to play double for 48 keys! Thankfully, the screen layout is pretty much the same as Rock Band. At the very bottom of the screen has a keyboard, in the middle of the keys on the screen is a red bar. And just like in Rock Band, small bars will scroll down and once they line up with the red bar, players just simply push the corresponding keys.

Thanks to this layout, anybody can play. If you want to play classic songs that use traditional acoustic like notes, that option is there for you, or you can play something that is more techno. So look up some import sites to see if you can get some copies of this game if the keyboard is your thing.


Any Anime Like Rock Band?

4. DJ Hero

  • Platform: Multiplatform
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: FreeStyleGames
  • Release Date: Oct 27, 2009

Also made by the same people who made Guitar Hero, FreeStyle also gives players the chance to be a DJ through their spin-off, DJ Hero. And thankfully, the basic mechanics of the gameplay is still the same as a majority of other music games, you must press corresponding buttons once they sync to the matching buttons on the screen and this time, you can use a turntable as your controller. At times, you even simulate the feel of scratching the record like a real DJ would. Though the basic layout and the mechanics are the same, due to using a different controller and gimmick, it requires a different kind of coordination since you can also turn the table to a certain direction if the line of a button is crooked in the corresponding direction.

In addition, the controller allows players to use a crossfader and make certain sound effects when necessary for more novelty. And its soundtrack is a must for old school lovers such as "All Eyez On Me" by the legendary Tupac, "Another One Bites" the Dust by Queen, "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5, and "Word Up" by Cameo. So if you really want to have a party with gaming, DJ Hero is the game for you. With the sequel, you can get more people to dance to your vibes with other self-proclaimed musical geniuses like Daft Punk!

DJ Hero Trailer


5. DrumMania

  • Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 2
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: 2000

While Rock Band may have popularized playing the drums on your home console on an international scale, Konami’s DrumMania was the first by almost 10 years (it was released on the PS2 in Japan shortly after its debut). If you’ve played Rock Band’s drum feature, DrumMania is pretty much the same. The screen has a layout where the bottom has the buttons and the corresponding colors scroll down to the matching drum you have to beat along with the foot step. Once the colors sync with the bar, you just start drumming like you’re Yoshiki from X-Japan.

The arcade drum set the game uses is actually based on a Yamaha DTXPRESS models for more realistic accuracy. While the PS2 versions can still use a regular controller, where’s the fun in that? So if you live in any area (most notably, California) that still has a living arcade scene, it is strongly likely they may have DrumMania. In addition to some of Konami’s originals versions of the game contain some hit songs from Japan such as "GOLD" by UVERworld, "Pony Tail and Shu Shu" by AKB48, and even "Sobakasu", the theme song to Rurouni Kenshin.


6. Guitar Freaks

  • Platform: Arcade, PlayStation, PlayStation 2
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: Feb 16, 1999

Long before Guitar Hero, Konami had Guitar Freaks. A good number of guitar enthusiasts have been critical of Guitar Freaks for using a three button layout as opposed to a five button layout because it doesn’t accurately simulate a real guitar experience. Even so, that shouldn’t stop players from trying this game out. And just in case we forgot to mention, in many arcades in Japan, you can play this game alongside Drummania and pretty much feature many of the song songs as that game. In a way, this game was Rock Band before there was ever any Rock Band. A majority of its song selections are shared with Drummania so if you want to play some J-Rock or other original songs by Konami’s in-house musicians, this can be your jam.

Its screen layout is pretty much the same as Guitar Hero’s and Rock Band’s guitar features. At the screen, the corresponding buttons scroll to a certain bar and when they sync up, all the player has to do is pretty that button and strum the lever. So if you can get used to a three button layout, any fans familiar with Rock Band can instantly transition to Guitar Freaks.


Final Thoughts

Last, we would like to make some very honorable mentions to Beatmania IIDX (the hit Japanese arcade game that made DJ Hero possible), Karaoke Revolution, Para Para Paradise, DanceMania X, and Pump It Up. The great thing about these games is that you really need no prior background with any instrument or with music as a whole in order to enjoy them. Just like any other video game, all it takes is practice and some getting used to. These are games you can enjoy playing together with your friends, or you can be competitive over who gets the higher score.

Some of these games can feature tracks that may not be familiar to you, or they may have songs you have never heard of and can instantly make you a fan. If you played some versions of DDR, it may have made you a K-pop fan, and DrumMania and Guitar Freaks may have made you a J-Rock fan. Games, in their own way, can help you expand your tastes in a variety of ways and what better genre than the music genre.

So what are some of your favorite games that are the likes of Rock Band? Or what bands do you think should have their own game? How about a game dedicated to Van Halen’s 1984 Album? Or how about a special edition by the provocative metal tribute/parody band, Steel Panther? If you have any ideas, please share in the comments.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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