Top 10 Music Anime Games [Best Recommendations]

Whatever your taste in music, there’s always something out there to entice your ears and soul. Over the recent decades we’ve seen a huge influx of music related game titles that have gone on to sell millions worldwide, simply due to the fact of what we just mentioned. Music is a language that can be spoken universally and so creating fun and engaging titles to further emphasize that point is an outstanding achievement for any company. Anime music games however have really taken the world by storm as of late, and so Honey’s would love to share our top ten music anime game titles that we’d think you’ll enjoy, just in time for the holiday season.

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 3DS, Arcade, iOS
  • Publisher: Square Enix Holdings
  • Developer: indieszero
  • Release Date: February 16, 2012

With all of the hype surrounding the Final Fantasy franchise lately with the release of XV, putting Theatrhythm on the list was perhaps a no brainer. The game is based off of the Final Fantasy universe, and players must rely on their reactions to touch various icons on screen to play the correct tunes. Much of the music in Theatrhythm stem from the series and so fans of the franchise will most certainly have a blast playing their favorite Final Fantasy music in a rhythm based manner.

While not innovative by any means, Theatrhythm sets itself apart from the rest with its colorful user interface which is quite standard in every Final Fantasy title, and has you concentrating intently towards getting that high score. What’s great is that you can choose music starting all the way back to the original Final Fantasy, to Final Fantasy XIII. You also have three stages to choose from such as battle, event and field, with each stage requiring you to test out unique mechanics and the music will change depending on which one you choose. As you play more music is unlocked which only adds more replay value to an already entertaining title.


9. Gitaroo Man

  • System/Platform: Playstation 2, Playstation Portable
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo | THQ
  • Developer: Koei | iNiS
  • Release Date: June 21, 2001

U-1 was never popular among his classmates, and the girl of his dreams never really found him attractive in any way. That is until a dog named Puma comes into the plot and informs U-1 that he has more talent than meets the eye, and is the last legendary hero of planet Gitaroo who possesses the Last Gitaroo. When the two are attacked by the enemy, Puma then transforms into Puma AC-30 and hands U-1 the Gitaroo, allowing him to transform into the hero known as Gitaroo Man.

The premise of Gitaroo Man is that you must face off against enemies in musical battles, trying your best to stay with the beat and deplete the enemy lifebar as fast as you can. There are three main phases that happen throughout gameplay which are charge, attack and guard, while the bonus harmony and end phases take place towards the end of a level. As you play through this classic title you’ll need to stay on your toes as each phase has its own challenge, and will unlock certain rewards if you manage to stay alive for long periods of time. The fun really starts however after you’ve cleared the game and now have master mode to dive into. This is the true shining star moment for Gitaroo Man as things get more complex and truly tests your skills, so be sure to check out this true music classic.


8. The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage

  • System/Platform: Android, iOS
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 4, 2015

Everybody loves a free game right? Well what about taking a chance with Bandai Namco’s spin off of The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls franchise, with its free to play music card game Starlight Stage. Fans of the series will come to understand much of the gameplay once you turn on the game, and the story is no different so everything is easy to dive right into. The only major difference compared to the original Idolm@ster Cinderella series is that instead of playing more of a simulation format, you’ll now need to test your reactions by pressing the right buttons on screen at the right time.

The game combines a card collecting attribute along with the rhythm aspect, and where the card collecting part comes in is through each idol having corresponding cards, all with different rarities such as normal all the way to SS rare. Each of the idols are split up into three variations as well, cute, cool and passion. There’s plenty to learn and get used to in this game, since most of your time will be consumed in Live mode, the main mode of the game, where you’ll be focusing your energy in making sure to grab the highest ratings and taking your idol team to victory.


7. Love Live! School Idol Paradise

  • System/Platform: Playstation Vita
  • Publisher: KADOKAWA
  • Developer: Dingo
  • Release Date: August 28, 2014

Love Live! has a massive following and so it came as no surprise that a game surrounding the popular franchise would come into fruition. Love Live! Live! School Idol Paradise puts you in charge of an idol group, as they make their way to the top of the ranking charts and you must ensure that every song played is performed masterfully. Released in three volumes and is Japan only at the moment, Love Live! Live! School Idol Paradise has a plethora of songs to tap away to, with their own catchy tempo to keep you playing for hours.

While the musical aspect of the series is the true selling point, we can’t help but mention just how vibrantly colored everything is when playing, and how in sync things feel while playing through the story mode. If you’re a true fan of the Love! Live! series then this import title should be a no brainer purchase, but we will truly say that if you want the best experience out of this title you might as well buy all three volumes to get a ton more songs to choose from. Much of the gameplay is similar to that of Project Diva, and so once you get used to the timing you’ll be a shining star in no time.


6. Space Channel 5

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: December 16, 1999

Dreamcast fans rejoice, as Space Channel 5 makes its way to Honey’s top five in best music games. It should come as no surprise that this all time classic made our list, because it truly blew everyone’s minds when it released back in 1999. However we must give credit where it is due, and tip our hats to one of the early pioneers of the genre Parappa the Rapper, who clearly inspired Sega to create the franchise and it even features a cameo from the late great Michael Jackson.

Taking place in a funky space themed world you take control of Ulala, a psychedelic reporter for Space Channel 5 who must use her funky dance moves to take out the evil Morolians, but also settle the score with her other rivals Pudding and Jaguar. This game is so fun in a variety of ways that it would be hard to explain it in a few sentences. Let’s just say that the minute your ears hear the funky beats and watch the cool dance routines, along with Space Michael showing off his footwork, Space Channel 5 will certainly have you hooked and leave you hungry for more. As you tap each button to the beat, your head bops up and down as well, as the music takes over your body and you can’t resist getting up and dancing along.


5. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X

  • System/Platform: Playstation Vita, Playstation 4
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: March 24, 2016

Otaku fans will be jumping for joy with this one, as Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X makes its way to the top five of our hit list. This is the 10th entry in the extremely popular Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series and takes players on a new journey with a new mode known as Live Quest.

Sticking to its roots in terms of gameplay and appeal, Project Diva X still has all the perks you loved but now throws in the Live Quest mode, along with rush notes to further bump up the challenge. Live Quest mode is where most of the action takes place since it has two separate modes to choose from, one of which is Event Quests while the other is Area Quest. Each with their own distinctive features, both Quest modes challenge you a lot and will surprise you with new features such as Module Drop, which reward you with specific modules if you play notes correctly and follow every condition. With over 30 songs to choose from on the Vita version, a few of which make their return from previous titles, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is sure to keep your fingers busy for hours.


4. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

  • System/Platform: Nintendo DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: iNiS
  • Release Date: July 28, 2005

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan is the one game that inspired the creation of the now popular Osu! that millions play worldwide to this day. Much of the influence came from the crazy rapid style gameplay that Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was known for and we’ll be discussing some of its perks for you right now.Exclusively available to Japan only, this game was on the top of every importer’s list during its release because everyone wanted a piece of the hype.

When a character on screen reaches their climax they immediately scream out ‘Ouendan!’ which begins the song, and as you listen and indulge yourself in the various popular Japanese songs at that time, you’d have to really concentrate on when to press each button on screen. While the beginning phase is usually quite elementary, stages get progressively more challenging which oftentimes leads to premature endings of the stage. With artists such as Asian Kung Fu Generation, Morning Musume, along with the nostalgic Blue Hearts with their hit ‘Linda, Linda’, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan is the ultimate must have for those who own a DS.


3. Parappa the Rapper

  • System/Platform: PSP, Playstation, PS4
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: NanaOn-Sha
  • Release Date: December 6, 1996

You simply can’t discuss music games without mentioning some of the all time classics of the entire genre. Parappa the Rapper looks at Parappa as he works his way up the ranks to become the best artist, and cement his name in the history books. With the recent remastered announcement of the original Parappa the Rapper that will come out in 2017, fans of the series can jump for joy as their favorite rapper returns to the spotlight with a cleaner look.

Parappa the Rapper just reeks of nostalgic value simply because the game came out during a time when music games were really starting to make a name for themselves in the industry, and the iconic Parappa was one of the first to truly help the music game genre explode in popularity. One major difference that sets this game apart from the rest is truly in its artstyle, since every character is drawn as if being cut out from paper, while the rest of the world is all 3D. This influenced future titles such as Paper Mario to take on the same style. Be sure to rap along with Parappa in this all time classic, and support one of the best games ever made as the demo for the PS4 remastered version is on the PS Store.


2. Elite Beat Agents

  • System/Platform: Nintendo DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: iNiS
  • Release Date: November 6, 2006

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was such a popular import title that it even surprised iNiS and Nintendo themselves, which encouraged them to come out with a sequel that would finally reach western shores. Elite Beat Agents is the follow up to the incredibly popular title that features a lot of what you’d expect from the original, with a little more juice and catered more to a western audience. One of the obvious changes was taking out the Oendan Cheerleaders and replacing them with special agents instead.

If you’ve already tested your skills with Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan then now would be a good time to pick up this classic and see how far you can go. As you drag and tap your way through an array of popular hit songs with a comic book influenced art style, you’re constantly laughing as well due to the humor that’s thrown into the mix. Each song has its own unique protagonist and you’ll need to sometimes rescue or help out these characters by mastering the spin markers, while making sure to not let your stylus go off screen with those pesky phase markers.


1. Taiko no Tatsujin

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Games
  • Release Date: February 21, 2001

Taiko no Tatsujin is simply the best on the list because no matter where you go in the world, there’s an arcade somewhere with this game lying around waiting for some unsuspecting individual to curiously pick up and play. This family fun title has players picking up the Bachi, or drumsticks as many know them around the world, and bang their hearts out to various popular anime titles along with other hip and cool J-Pop songs thrown in the mix.What made this game so popular is that it’s incredibly easy to pick up and play, and because the layout is big and sturdy, players never felt the fear of breaking it should they smash it with all of their might.

Another great selling point of course is simply the music choices in the game, which range from popular hit anime openings such as Dragon Ball’s ‘Cha-La Head-Cha-La’ to super classics like the Super Mario theme song. Whatever your taste in music was, Taiko no Tatsujin had it all for you and more, with difficulty rising as you choose the songs with more stars next to them. It’s incredibly challenging, mentally and physically demanding, which in turn acts as somewhat of a workout for the body and mind. Think of it like DDR but with your hands doing all of the thumping as you match your movement to the blue and red markers on screen. With several of its titles landing on portable devices such as the Nintendo DS and PS Vita, and major consoles such as PS4, Taiko no Tatsujin will continue to wow fans over for years to come and perhaps educate those more abou the unique styles of Japanese culture.


Final Thoughts

We simply can’t forget to mention some classics like Bust-a-Move along with Bust-a-Groove as well, since these were some other great music game classics. With the music game genre now growing exponentially with the likes of Ubisoft dishing out more Just Dance titles every year, it’s more than likely that we’ll continue to see an influx of new music anime titles to entice those who are fans of the genre. Which music anime game do you love the most? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest from Japan!

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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