The gaming industry has been in a rhythm drought since the slow decline of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The most recent games to scratch that musical itch for me were Thumper – a dark techno racing rhythm game – and the amazing Beat Saber for VR. But both of those games are years old, so what’s new?
Well, if the title and opening paragraph didn’t give it away, Spin Rhythm is the newest rhythm game to combine timed button presses with the beat of the music. And it is a fantastic addition to the genre.
Many of the individual components of Spin Rhythm are popular staples for the series. Scrolling track filled with “notes”? Check. Upbeat techno music? Check. Score counter with multiplier based on sequences of hits? Big check!
What makes Spin Rhythm interesting is the “Spin” part of its name. You control a wheel with blue and red sections at even intervals. Your primary action involves spinning the wheel so that the red sections line up with the red notes and the blue sections line up with the blue notes. Secondary actions include hitting a button on the beat, spinning the wheel like a madlad, and dragging the wheel left or right during a held note.
While the gameplay sounds simple, it is deceptively complex. At some point while playing you will realize that instead of spinning the red section left, then right, you can keep moving it left so that the next red section picks up the notes on the right. And the fact that you aren’t hitting a button for every note allows the game to fill the bar with a ridiculous number of notes, spins, and taps.
Spin Rhythm manages to make you feel like you are doing a lot while doing very little. Each note you capture in your wheel makes a satisfying addition to the song and some of the combinations are a delight to perform. This is partially thanks to the genius move to have every full spin line up your wheel to the next note, letting you know where your wheel is going to be without you even seeing it.
But you can’t talk about rhythm games without discussing the track list. Spin Rhythm’s early access currently includes fifteen tracks which would feel at home on any DDR machine. There is a decent variation in the tone and speed of the songs such that it feels like there is something for everyone in this mix. There are a few songs that had me amped to keep playing and only a couple that left me underwhelmed.
While the game is extremely fun to play, I found the controls for the mouse to be a little tiring on the wrists and a little more difficult to use as the mouse requires you to hold down a button to spin the wheel while my controller only required movement of the analog stick. That said, the game is set to release on the Nintendo Switch in 2020 with Joycon motion control support and the steam version (which hit Steam Early Access on October 22) is compatible with most existing MIDI DJ controllers.
If you like Rhythm games and have been looking for something new, check out Spin Rhythm. It is fun to play, easy to start and hard to master, and features an awesome track list.