I’ve been playing a bit of Hi-Fi Rush since its surprise drop earlier this week, but as always with a rhythm game, “play” is a strong word. There are different categories you can score in throughout the game and I consistently get ‘B’ or above in most of them, but for ‘Timing’ I’m lucky to get a C. Hi-Fi Rush relies mainly on rock and punk music, and it makes sense to lean into something so rhythmic, where the best is decisive for the overall composition of the music. Rap music is another strong foundation for a rhythm game. So is heavy metal, as proven with Metal: Hellsinger. But when are they going to make a rhythm game for sad white girls?
Sad White Girl Music includes a few genres, but it’s easy to define in itself. I’m talking about the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Gracie Abrams, Lana del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo, Fleetwood Mac, Lorde, Mxmtoon, Maisie Peters, and of course the queen, my queen, Taylor Swift. Why can’t I show my enemies exactly what this pain will be like forever?
Although this type of acoustic adult contemporary music is not as beat-focused as rock, rap or metal, it has a unique sense of timing that favors intricate movements over well-timed mashing. Of course, no one has ever played a shooter or a hack ‘n’ slash and said “I love how slow it is!”, but I think there’s a way for a more methodical approach to work for this genre.
Let’s take Taylor Swift as an example. Swift, at least on albums like Red, Folklore and Evermore, often uses simple melodies with complex and layered lyrics that both tell a story on the surface and fold into their own lines to give each phrase more meaning. “The coastal town we never found” in Gold Rush’s last chorus shatters the idea of perfect and eternal love the song initially sets up. Swift has a habit of transforming a song’s meaning either in the bridge or the final chorus, and a rhythm game with this type of music will shift away from the mechanical reliance on staying on beat and instead emphasize the lyrics, their meaning and change in tone .
The last time I wrote about my lack of rhythm due to listening to too much white music, I was accused of being racist, so let me clarify: I have equal respect for all people of all nationalities, ethnicities and creeds, except Americans clapping when the plane lands. This is the third time I’ve brought up this topic, going back to when a Doom replay prompted the request for an Alt-Z Lorde shooter, and every time a rhythm game is released that doesn’t allow me to do the same thing as rip and tear to Taylor Swift, I will write it again.
I’d even settle for some real raw pop. I’ve always preferred Swift’s singer-songwriter albums to her pop hit factories, but I’m no stranger to pop. Keep Swift and Rodrigo and add Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Britney Spears, Kim Petras, Miley Cyrus and Carly Rae Jepsen and you have a more rhythmic version of what I’m asking for.
This isn’t just a clumsy “hey make that thing, but with the thing I like” either. Although for sure, I’m not above that kind of thing. You know me well. However, Metal: Hellsinger and now Hi-Fi Rush have become part of the conversation with their viral appeal. Game Pass boosted both, but it feels like the rhythm game is coming back into fashion, now combined with combat. God of Rock, due out later this year, is a battle rhythm game, and as the name suggests, also uses rock music. For the genre to stick, and for new titles to have the same fresh feel as Hi-Fi Rush, they may need to push the boundaries of what a rhythm game means.
Despite being mostly useless at it, I hope the rhythm fighting genre has legs, because a) it’s always good to see new ideas thrive, and b) people seem to like it. But going the distance means giving us some variety, and the most creative interpretation of a genre all about fast beats is to try it with slower lyrical precision. I meet the next shadowfall at midnight.
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