Remember when it was cool to hook up a plastic guitar to your PlayStation and amateurishly thrash your way through heavy metal tracks in the game “Guitar Hero”? I still recall how sore my thumb got from playing that game. Games with a strong music element have evolved since “Guitar Hero” was first introduced and many of them have been tailored for smartphones and tablets.
$2 on iOS
For a futuristic sensation in music gaming, try the iOS app “Wave Trip.”
It’s a side-scrolling game with simple controls to move your spaceshiplike object up and down, collecting rewards and avoiding hazards that fly across the screen. In this sense it’s like many other scrolling games. But in “Wave Trip,” every time you collect a reward, a note or drumbeat is activated that repeats as part of the background music.
The tune you hear constantly evolves as you play. In a weird way this makes you feel much more part of the game and much more eager to succeed.
Wave Trip’s graphics are cute, and the menus and gameplay are simple enough that older children can play without supervision. The downside is that you will play through it pretty quickly — but it is still worth the $2 price.
My Singing Monsters
Free on iOS and Android
“My Singing Monsters” is another game where music evolves as you play, but it’s a very different type of game. The app feels as if it is aimed at children because of its cartoonish monster characters, but it is sophisticated enough to please adults, too.
The idea is that you “breed” monsters that you place on a grid on a plant-covered island.
Each monster sings a simple rhythmic tune. The more monsters you have, the more complex the melody they sing.
You can change the melody by adding monsters that sing a bass line or make drum sounds.
Like “FarmVille,” which it faintly resembles, “My Singing Monsters” is complex enough to keep you involved.
But the menu system is complicated and it sometimes takes a few taps at the screen to do simple things. There are also a lot of pop-ups pushing you to buy in-game credits with real money, so you will want to supervise children playing the game.
Pulse: Volume One
$3 on iOS
A totally different type of music game is “Pulse: Volume One.” Deceptively simple-looking, the game involves circular graphical “pulses” that grow outward from the middle of the screen as a piece of instrumental music plays.
Little dots appear at different locations around the target, and as a pulse crosses the dot, you’re supposed to tap the dot. Getting it right makes a sound that is part of the evolving melody.
The tunes gets faster and more complex as you play, and the rhythm of the music keeps you in time.
It sounds basic, but the beautifully clean graphics and the many pleasant tunes will keep you coming back to play again. This may make it worth its $3 price.Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.