WAYPT: Old School Musical

A boat carrying a white square and a white rectangle with eyes. A text box underneath says "Rob: The underwear chose me."

Anybody who's sat still long enough around me knows how much I love rhythm games. If I had to choose a single genre of game and play nothing but that for the rest of my life, rhythm games would narrowly (narrowly) edge out roguelikes. The first game I spent a serious amount of time playing was Dance Dance Revolution, which included flexing on dudes at the movie theatre who thought they were better than 13-year-old me¹. It instilled a deep love of both game music and music games which has never left me.

I came across a video recently, a synced-motion animation of 23 rhythm games². I've played the great majority of them, but I had not played Old School Musical, and within five minutes of loading it up, I was kicking myself for having slept on it.

Colored circles with white arrows in them, over a beach scene with a red convertible driving down a road.
there's an Out Run level and it's everything I ever wanted

Old School Musical is a rhythmic adventure through retro video games. The story mode puts you in the shoes of Tib and Rob, the two FEZ-looking brothers who are definitely not Super Mario throwbacks. It's a fairly standard save-the-world story, but it's littered with clever jokes about the games it parodies and sly gags for eagle-eyed players. Anyone familiar with older arcade and console games in particular will be absolutely delighted.

The game protagonists dressed as Ninja Turtles with red headbands, falling down a well. The text box says "Tib: Turtles with shurikens and headbands."
they're both Raphael, suspend your disbelief

The gameplay itself is almost self-explanatory, but the tutorial covers anything that would have been unclear. Experienced rhythm gamers will have no problem getting the hang of it; it's mostly timed directional presses (think Bust A Groove) interspersed with sections of scrolling tabs (think reversed Beatmania). Even folks new to rhythm games will enjoy themselves – the skill ceiling isn't especially high and the reflexes needed aren't as twitchy as some others. That's helped along by the (very good) soundtrack – it's all chiptunes, which tend to be predictable.

You can finish the story mode in about 3 hours. Completionists and achievement hunters, look no further than the arcade mode for your 100%. In addition to the main game, the DLC adds a few more hours of finger-cramping with an unusual amount of chicken murder. (You heard me.)

Old School Musical left me gleeful in a way few other games have. Most hardware newer than 2010 should be able to run it, and it can be played with one hand on the arrow keys. For anyone into chiptunes, into rhythm games, into retro video games, or just looking to blow a few hours on something relentlessly upbeat, this game is a solid way to get your quest on.

¹ spoiler: they were not

² notably absent are osu! and Arcaea, both favourites of mine



Occasionally reality-prone. Cross-stitch, synthwave, and video games.