Sales suggest that the music/rhythm genre has been dying a slow and painful death over the past year or so, but that didn't stop 2010 from producing some of the finest exponents of the genre yet. Activision released arguably the best Guitar Hero since GH3, Rock Band 3 broke down the wall between gaming and being that guy at the party, and Def Jam Rapstar finally proved that it was possible to do hip-hop oriented karaoke without being a wild inaccurate pile of rubbish.
And then there was the dancing. You can refresh yourselves with one of the videos after the jump. I fear they'll be burned into my memory (and YouTube) for many many years to come.
NB. Hit the thumbnail for price comps and the title for our full reviews where applicable.
Since the middle of the year when YouTube got treated to the woeful sight of Jon and myself strutting our funky stuff, we've been totally enamoured with Dance Central. It proved that if you tailored your software correctly Kinect didn't have to suck. In fact it might just be one of the most hilariously brilliant games we've played in years. No sitting down and flicking a Wiimote for you...get up and shake some booty!
Def Jam Rapstar brought something of an end to shoddy hip-hop karaoke mechanics in 2010 by delivering software that could accurately detect lyrical prowess. But it was really Rapstar's innovative community support which took us by storm, offering crossover opportunities like no other game out there and uniquely blending together elements of reality entertainment and talent spotting. The draconian censoring of material (particularly considering a musical genre that often deals in aggressive fronting) might have seemed incongruous, but Rapstar was still one of the most striking music titles to emerge in years.
I still maintain that DJ Hero 2 has the finest setlist of any music game this year. The mashups were inspired, with far more variety, an expanded multiplayer and more opportunities to leave your mark on proceedings with Freestyle mechanics. Hopefully it's only a matter of time before we see some Pro Decks and the chance to be really creative.
Armed with a new stripped-back guitar, but boasting 40 stars a song, Warriors of Rock set about trying to breathe new life into an old formula by taking the series back to its roots and maximising replayability. The Quest Mode threw some interesting rock powers into the mix and, with a 90-strong library, there was plenty of bang for your buck.
There's a reason games like this keep selling and it's because everyone secretly likes making an utter arse of themselves. Just Dance was ludicruously successful, and its follow-up did well by not changing too much in terms of core gameplay (if it ain't broke...) but instead throwing lots of varied game modes, a barrage of new tracks and some fantastic presentation into the pot.
Whilst Activision sat scratching their heads regarding how to squeeze more money out of the Guitar Hero franchise, EA came up with the solution - MOAR PERIPHERALS! Of course, there was much more to Rock Band 3 than that. Keyboards were in, as was the missing step in between music games and real instruments. The Pro instruments removed the wall between gaming and music practice, rendering those 'yeah but it won't help you play an actual instrument' arguments rather redundant. Plus it was lots of fun. Only question now is, where the hell do we go from here?
Yes they know how to throw a good party, but the We Sing lot also know how to make a good game too. Encore didn't really do a whole lot more than its predecessor - 40 tracks, up to 4 mics, a number of multiplayer modes - but those additions it did make were very welcome indeed, none more so than the educational singing lessons and incentivised award system. It didn't need a whole bunch of bells and whistles to be probably the finest karaoke game on the Wii.
Winner: Dance Central
Rock Band 3 threw everything but the kitchen sink into the mix this year, but we rather felt that Dance Central provided a new lease of life for the rhythm genre. Not only did it force you to get up off of the couch and make a tit out of yourself, but it also pretty much single-handedly redeemed Kinect in our eyes, proving that with the right application, Microsoft's little camera could make for some pretty raucous and hilarious evenings! We haven't laughed as much in years.