Without me telling you this, we all know there is a bunch of Japanese music that goes undiscovered regardless of how exceptional the music may be. So I came up with the idea of sharing my favorite rhythm games to hopefully allow you to discover great music in an entertaining way. These games offer a big variety of Japanese music you most likely wouldn’t otherwise have come by, so definitely give them a try!

1. Cytus II
Price: $2/free (offers in-app purchase)
Excellent music in many genres
Stunning artwork and graphics

Starting off with the number one pick, since this game definitely deserves your rhythmic attention! Cytus II offers exciting gameplay, and in my opinion, the best graphical interface any rhythm game has to offer on mobile. Unlike traditional rhythm games, the judgment line is constantly scanning up and down, the player will then have to hit the appearing notes at the moment the line passes—the notes may also appear at any spot on the screen. As difficult as it may sound, this is the charm of the game as it keeps it incredibly lively and fun!

One of the many features contributing to Cytus II being a top seller in 100 regions is the story development and its elegant artwork. Currently, there are 13 main characters in the story; each character can be viewed as a song-pack (that includes ~15 songs). As you play through their songs, you’ll reveal more of the story from the perspective of each individual character. As of version 2.3.9 (released May 31, 2019), Hatsune Miku has even been added as a character with an original story.

The game includes ~200 excellent songs in various genres; pop, electronic, hardcore, metal, symphonic, rock, and jazz. About 40 songs are available out of the box, the rest can be purchased for a fair price, typically what an album cost, $1 per song. The entry price for Cytus II is free on iOS, but $2 on Android.

Alternatives to Cytus II

(Android and iOS)
The original Cytus has the same game mechanics although it feels less refined compared to Cytus II. The best part is that the original Cytus comes with 100 free songs to play!
(Android and iOS)
Besides the fact that the game is free, its main selling point is the aspects of it being a community-based game. That means song charts can be created by anyone!
2. Arcaea
Price: Free (offers in-app purchase)
Excellent symphonic electronic music
Unique and fun 3D arc game mechanic

Arcaea preserves a standard five-lane layout at the bottom in addition to a unique upper “sky input” zone! The notes appearing in the sky input zone are referred to as “sky notes” and “arc notes”. Fundamentally, sky notes are the same as regular notes, you just hit them to score. However, with arc notes, you will have to tap and hold and follow its shape. The arc itself can take various shapes and even twist at times, making the entire game much more dynamic and entertaining.

Currently, there are about 150 songs available in Arcaea with more songs added continuously, the majority of the songs take on a symphonic electronic theme. Pricing of the song packs is reasonably priced, like Cytus II, it sits around $1 per song.

Price: Free (offers in-app purchase)
Huge selection of songs!
Elegant and straightforward gameplay

A super elegant and refined game following the orthodox layout of vertical rhythm games where notes rain down. Well, except that all these freaking judgment lanes are shuffled around as you play, increasing both the difficulty and enjoyment! The game is very straightforward and easy to learn—but like with every rhythm game—hard to master. To play VOEZ, you will need a constant internet connection, so keep that in mind.

Out of our three top selection, this game has the biggest song library, reaching over 250 songs to pick from! More songs are also continuously being added. A handful of them being served as free songs to play, and within this selection, there is a category of time-limited songs that updates every week. Pricing remains around $1 per song here as well, just like our other two top picks.

Honorable mentions
BanG Dream!
(Android and iOS)
Perfect for anime song lovers!
Bang Dream! combines a visual novel journey with a rhythm game. The immersive animated characters and the voice-acted story eventually leads you to the core game, the rhythm game. This game is definitely worth a try if you’re into anime music as its musical arsenal consists of many great anime cover songs. The reason why it isn’t on our top list is due to its annoying coin system and mediocre gameplay.
Hachi Hachi
(Android and iOS)
Interesting gameplay
Hachi Hachi offers an easy and unique game mechanic with eight hit zones placed around a ring (hence the name “hachi”, eight in Japanese). It is however hard to play on a smartphone due to the large numbers of hitboxes being too tightly placed. You will certainly enjoy the game more on a tablet, or in Japanese arcade centers where its originator “maimai” can be played on large tactile buttons.
(Android and iOS)
Shoot ’em up meets rhythm game!
RIDE ZERO combines the elements of “shoot ’em up” (shmup) and rhythm games to create a unique experience. Fight enemies with your rhythmic skills! The core game in itself is pretty solid and fun, but the user interface is bloated and confusing.
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