I adore rhythm games. The satisfaction of getting a perfect rhythm in Crypt of the Necrodancer or solving the Mermaid Puzzle in Stardew Valley is a delight few games can replicate.
And yet, while their gratifying gameplay feels and sounds terrific, Rhythm games are usually very solitary, single-player experiences that are hard to share or boast about.
Enter Headbangers Rhythm Royale, a competitive rhythm game that pits you against 30 other pigeons in a series of rap-offs, Beethoven battles, and other quirky musical mashups to earn yourself the title of Master Banger.
Despite the game’s limited controls and lack of physical movement, Headbangers Rhythm Royale offers a host of highly creative minigames that turn rhythm action into a guitar hero clone, FPS piano sim, and whack-a-mole arcade for almost endless fun.
Even if some of the earlier matching minigames can get repetitive, the adorable Despicable-Me-esque Minion sounds and amusing headbanging pigeons visuals offer a flood of rhythmic fun and challenge. Overall, rhythm game fans interested in cooperative titles can enjoy one of the silliest multiplayer additions since Fall Guys and Party Animals.
Silly Simon Says
I adored Headbanger’s set of outlandish minigames. At its core, the gameplay revolves around pressing the correct buttons to the beat of the rhythm or identifying a specific musical sound to qualify for the next round.
However, Headbangers takes this formula in almost every direction, turning it into a piano shooter, space simulator, record player, and even a fatal game of Simon Says with pigeon royalty.
To be fair, not every minigame was a hit; I grew bored of the music instrument matching game “Guess It,” and making a single mistake in losing the rhythm for some minigames, especially the minecart mode, was usually a fatal move too tough to recover from.
Even so, Headbangers is generous in offering ability pickups that can reveal answers in puzzle-matching sims, remove freemium phone game-esque blocking our foosball simulator in Super Strikers, or instant qualify us to reach the next round.
Especially since each game is only 30 players big and four rounds lasting about 12 minutes in total, winning headbangers was an achievable, incredible feeling that prompted a Pigeon dance each time I made it to the end.
Admittedly, I wish I had some input on which minigames to play or the ability to pick a private arcade mode to practice specific modes or do party games with friends. Forcing players to commit to a 30-person game with random players feels like a mistake that Headbangers could quickly rectify by adding private games or custom modes for particular minigames.
All-in-all, Headbangers offered an enjoyable set of minigames that mostly remained fun hours in. While the game will likely appeal more to rhythm game purists and music snobs, its wacky variety and laughable execution deliver accessible fun across its many competitions.
Besides its varied gameplay, the visuals accompanying each mode offered a gorgeous absurdity of wacky pigeons. The pigeons are satisfyingly squishy and stretchy, with birds imitating gameshow hosts, urban rappers, and cowboys throughout space, the Wild West, and late-night clubs.
Even if some games felt more minimalistic, witnessing each fowl elongate their head, twirl like a ballerina, or jump like a chicken from Chicken Run was hilarious and never ceased to make me chuckle.
Though I settled with my patriotic pigeon fighting for his right to eat bread crumbs and ruin windshields, the sheer customization made each run feel more worthwhile, with a new Elvis Presley costume or shark hat to try on.
While other silly multiplayer entries outnumber and outdo Headbangers in terms of varied costumes, like Fall Guy’s Handsome Squidward from Spongebob or Party Animal’s Ori from Ori and the Blind Forest, Headbangers still offers some fantastic customization that makes each loading screen of costumed pigeons feel like wacky and fun.
Overall, Headbanger’s visuals are fantastically well done and a graphical delight that makes me long for a pigeon plushie. Even if you grow old with matching musical instruments or playing records, the pigeons will surely peck their way into your bread-crumb-filled heart.
Minions Meets Pigeons
As soon as I started up the game, Headbangers hit me with one of the most egregious uses of Despicable Me’s Minion sounds. For those unfamiliar with the pervasive Illumination studio’s characters, Headbangers employs a high-pitched, cartoonish character narrating our every action, song note, fake reporter, or victory screen.
Though I’ll concede that some may find them ear-grating, the quirky, cartoonish voice brought me into this wacky world of personified pigeons and silly guessing games.
With Minion sounds imitating Beethoven 5th Symphony’s “dun dun dun dun” or rapping out a hot new song from four words, the Minion’s voice was a perfect choice for voicing these silly pigeons.
Even while the music is less noteworthy (mostly a set of basic rhythms), having such an iconic voice dictate each scene sold me from the moment they said “Glee Cheese.”
All-in-all, unless you utterly despise Despicable Me’s Minions, it’s hard not to fall in love with the lovingly quirky sounds following our precious pigeons. Frankly, I found the real reward for winning was hearing the narrator hilariously mispronounce my master banger title as “monster bonger.”
To Fowl Endings
Like most Battle Royales, I found Headbanger’s progression a more serviceable sort tied to accumulating currency and unlocking tiers for cosmetic customization. The currency, bread crumbs, is earned for getting further in each round, completing particular side objectives, and bonus rounds unlocked by twirling your pigeon’s head during the minigames.
Frankly, the lack of tournaments and side content can be disheartening as there aren’t any new modes to unlock, contests to compete in, or players to challenge. However, the game’s set of Challenge Cards can offer a better incentive to keep playing, as each card unlocks a new costume for you to play with, from Elvis Presley to tiger skins and a few others to mix around.
These challenge cards require ultra-specific requirements, from getting a high score in a Super Strikers match to a flawless “that 70s Pigeon” performance.
Though I’ve grown to detest the increasingly monetized cosmetics schemes and paid battle passes that deter roleplaying for players unwilling or unable to purchase said features, tying a costume to a challenging achievement felt like a marketed improvement for character customization.
Overall, though I’m less inclined to forgo my patriotic pigeon’s attire, I’ll admit that the promise of outfits feels enticing and like a fun way to earn status and have a reason to continue playing. While I doubt I’ll scour each minigame for 100% customization, the promise of a silly suit does wonders to make each minigame feel worthwhile.
Pigeons Ate the Bugs
Luckily, while I rarely ran into issues waiting to connect to servers, I never experienced a bug that interrupted my rhythm or my pigeon’s wicked dance moves.
Headbangers even accounts for PCs with latency issues by performing a small test before starting the game to measure the game’s lag and level the playing field for players with differing bandwidth in a game crucial to rhythms.
Though I faced some fake malware, like a pigeon sneezing on my screen or other players scrambling my controls, this was an intentional feature designed to mess with us and break our rhythms.
Pigeons in Perpetuity
While I treasure Heabanger’s clever gameplay, gorgeous visuals, and hilarious sounds, I’m somewhat at odds with its replayability. The various minigames offer a variety of fun games to dig into out of the 30+ minigames, but it’s not uncommon to play the same game three runs in a row.
Having the matching minigame where you correctly identify the played instruments over and over can make the 3-minute rounds drag on, especially when you’ve decidedly secured the lead and are waiting for the next round to start.
Even if it’s up to random chance, I wish there was some way to select a specific mode to try certain games or ways to bypass the easy early game rounds to get to the more challenging, enjoyable later modes.
All-in-all, while I doubt Headbanger’s adorable charm remains hours in, discovering a new minigame was a fun delight that made me hunger for more new modes. Frankly, I suspect this is an easy fix that the developers can tackle in the next update, but I hope they give players a way to control the variety or decrease the prominence of less exciting modes.
Overall Pros and Cons
- Hilarious Squishy Pigeons
- Lovable Minion Narrator
- Clever and Varied Minigames
- Interesting Challenge System
- Repetitive Early Minigames
- Limited Selection of Modes
- Expensive Shop Accessories
- Less Access to Better Minigames
Alternative Pigeon Bangers for Your Consideration
Frankly, Headbanger’s Rhythm Royale isn’t for everyone. The limited game mode selection, drastic emphasis on rhythm gameplay, and repetitive minigames can wear you down if you’re forced to repeat the same minigame over several hours.
Fortunately, various other battle royales and rhythm games offer many silly modes and minigames that retain their appeal hours in with more developed rhythm gameplay. If Headbangers Rhythm Royale wasn’t your cup of tea, I highly recommend the titles below:
- Crypt of the Necrodancer
- Fall Guys
- Party Animals
- Gang Beasts
- Untitled Goose Game
Question: How Do You Play Headbangers Rhythm Royale?
Answer: Headbangers Rhythm Royale mainly consists of pressing directional buttons in time to the beat of the music and following the prompts on the screen. Playing more accurately and quickly will earn you higher scores that make it easier to qualify for the next round, though some pickups also allow you to skip entire rounds.
Question: What are Crumbs Used for in Headbangers Rhythm Royale?
Answer: You can spend Crumbs on accessories in the shop to decorate your pigeon, give it a specific verbal taunt, or perform a funny dance. However, some customizable items are unlocked by completing particular challenge cards or gaining XP instead of crumbs.
Question: How Do I Complete Headbanger’s Rhythm Royale Challenge Cards?
Answer: Meeting specific requirements, like getting a high score in a Super Strikers minigame or a 35-note combo in Run Pigeon Run, will grant you the outfit behind a specific challenge card. Though you’ll naturally complete these cards by playing the game several times, keeping these cards in mind can be a greater incentive to perform well in a particular game.
Score: 7/10 Good
All-in-all, even if I grew tired of some of its more mundane minigames, Headbanger’s Rhythm Royale’s absurd pigeon hilarity showed me a fantastic time that kept me constantly giggling for every fowl trick hiding beneath its wing.
Though hardcore rhythm game fans are more likely to appreciate Headbanger’s Rhythm Royale’s musical gameplay, I still found the game’s short length reasonably accessible and fun on frequent visits.
Even if getting stuck with the same annoying minigame several rounds in a row proved more frustrating, some of the skill and intensity behind the later permadeath matches was a terrifyingly fun challenge that retained its nerve-wracking charm.
Just exploring the hilarious creativity poured into creating a rhythm game out of piano FPS or becoming a pigeon rapper was a phenomenally clever and hilarious adventure.
Overall, I enjoyed laughing at Headbanger’s minigames and look forward to returning to it for a stream or game night with friends. Though I doubt Headbanger’s Rhythm Royale can contend with other silly competitive games like Fall Guys and Party Animals, its hilariously clever rhythm games and minion pigeons still have me reeling.
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