The Revival of Rhythm

How Friday Night Funkin and UNBEATABLE are breathing new life into rhythm games



Rhythm games aren’t mainstream. In fact, they haven’t been for quite some time. Long gone are the days of AAA series such as RockBand or Guitar Hero taking over the glass walls of local GameStops, marketing their plastic peripherals and music-based gameplay to really let you feel like a rockstar. Instead, the genre has long left the AAA hemisphere due to oversaturation and poor sales, eventually finding its place in the indie scene.

And since its move, it’s been treated with all the respect it deserves. Rhythm games such as Crypt of the Necrodancer and Osu! have been Allstars of the genre for years, showing off their great soundtracks and addicting gameplay. But in my opinion, there are two new indie hits that are about to join the rhythm game hall of fame. The first title has already developed a large fanbase, that game being Friday Night Funkin (FNF). The second, and my personal favorite, is a little game called UNBEATABLE. And if you have the time, I highly recommend you try their demos online. Both titles have a great amount of passion and care put into them by their developers, and you can feel it as soon as you press start.


Friday Night Funkin

Friday Night Funkin feels like a love letter to an era of the internet that officially died at the end of last year, the time of Adobe Flash games. FNF feels like a game ripped straight off of Newgrounds, the website that helped start the classic Flash game craze that let millions of people play free games on their computers back in the 2000s. Developed by Tom Fulp of Castle Crashers fame and other notable Newground personalities, FNF has gathered a huge following online, garnishing many pieces of fanart and fanimations. I mean, when Game Theory makes a lore video about you, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. And the admiration is well deserved, as FNF has solid gameplay and humor that lets it stand out from the competition. 

FNF is, in a few short words, Dance Dance Revolution mixed with Parappa The Rappa. You play as a character named Boyfriend, a young rapper battling other artists for the right to date his lover, Girlfriend. Throughout the game, you duel various characters, ranging from Girlfriend’s parents to a demonic lemon. Honestly, the story doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s beside the point. 

The game is filled with cameos from various Newground games and videos, from Pico to Tankman.

I personally enjoyed playing this game for its soundtrack and sense of humor. You only need to use the arrow keys to play, and much like DDR, you have to press the correct arrows at the right time to stay alive. Minimize your mistakes and avoid failure to win. The fun comes from challenging yourself to get a better score on harder difficulties. It’s pretty barebones, but hearing Boyfriend beep and boop to the music makes each run of the game’s numerous tracks have a lighthearted nature to it. It’s also been a blast seeing the game evolve with each passing update, as the developers start to play more with the engine and add dialogue and voice acting in later weeks. Not to mention that the tracks in the game are filled with catchy high-octane beats. Personal favorites include the songs M.I.L.F and Fresh. The songs in the game have a very hip-hop x electric feel, and it helps lean into the game’s visuals. The sprite work is fun and well developed, being easy enough to read while playing. And if none of the game’s base content is appealing, the fandom has made dozens of different mods adding new characters, settings, and tracks for everyone to enjoy, free of charge. 

The game is available right now on both Newgrounds as a browser game and for download, the demo is well worth your time just to see what all the fuss is about.



I cannot sing the praises of this game high enough. I love UNBEATABLE, and it’s been a blast following its development, from announcement to Kickstarter to the official white label release. 

With a demo available on Steam, UNBEATABLE tells the story of Beat, the lead singer of an indie band in a world where music is illegal. The gameplay is rather simple, only requiring two buttons to play as you go up and down to the beat of a song beating down monsters hellbent on ending your show. The game gains a lot of my respect for its style, soundtrack, and use of narrative.

The game draws heavy inspiration from a variety of different sources. With an art style reminiscent of a Studio Trigger anime, the developers have added their own twist on things by giving the game a VHS filter and combining 2D and 3D art to make for a unique world. In addition, the soundtrack has a heavy punk influence, with highlights being Proper Rhythm and Empty Diary. 

Finally, something not highlighted in the demo is the story and open world that’ll eventually be added to the

Monsters assault you from four distinct angles and spaces, with the camera adjusting depending on where you need to focus your attention the most.

game’s full release. Shown off in the trailer, the player will be able to pick dialogue options that, although not hugely impactful, allow the player to express themselves while playing Beat, something I hope to see expanded in the future. Another awesome detail is that Beat is the in-game creator of all the original songs in the game. Each song tells a little bit of backstory about her past, her worries, and her self-doubts. All of these insights into her story make me excited to see how she grows as the plot progresses and more content releases. UNBEATABLE’s demo is currently available on Steam, and with several difficulties and tracks to choose from, it offers enough replayability and fun to warrant a few hours of your time.


I believe rhythm games are going in a great direction. These two new titles in particular bode well for the future of the genre. Losing the limelight to other AAA genres may have very well been a blessing in disguise, as now new indies can take the lead and really bring their own twist to things. All I have to say to any rhythm game fans out there is that if you’re looking for something to play, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that can beat either of these upcoming projects. (hehehe rhythm puns)