The action-rhythm genre, once assumed to be dead and gone, has experienced a dramatic resurgence over the last few months thanks to the work of Newgrounds game Friday Night Funkin’. Since November 2020, the rhythm battler has achieved massive success and fostered a dedicated, passionate fanbase. There’s a couple of reasons why it’s become so popular: it’s free, it has extensive mod support and a thriving community creating content every week.
The premise of the game is fairly simple: you play as a character known as “Boyfriend” who must defeat a string of rivals in musical battles so you can date “Girlfriend”, a woman who sits at the back of the stage and watches the action go down. Think Scott Pilgrim sprinkled with PaRappa the Rapper and Dance Dance Revolution.
While the overexposure of mobile tappers like Tap Tap Revenge in the mid-2000s meant rhythm games went dormant for a good decade or so, the genre has come back swinging with Friday Night Funkin’. It’s almost single-handedly proved there’s still an appetite for simple, Flash-style experiences.
The game itself is currently in an early access phase where content is added every few months. But because it’s open source fans have taken it upon themselves to add plenty of new content, inventing their own cameos including Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Kiryu from Yakuza, Salad Fingers and even Matt from Wii Sports.
Because the art style and coding is so simple and accessible, anyone who wants to mod the game can — which is how we’ve ended up with wild scenes like Boyfriend facing off against Red from Among Us.
All the action of Friday Night Funkin’ is backed by a great, foot-tapping soundtrack with a unique style that’s made it an underground smash hit.
While it’s currently unfinished, the creators have vowed to get it to a ‘complete’ state for release on Steam (and potentially Switch) after a successful Kickstarter campaign that has so far raised $2.47 million. That’s an incredible feat for a game which is currently available for free online — but it shows just how big its fanbase has grown.
If you jump in and play a few battles for yourself, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. The graphics are cute and stylish, the gameplay is fun and the music is so earworm-ish you’ll find yourself tapping your feet long after the show’s over. It’s fascinating to see how much the game’s grown since it released as a simple demo last year.
It just goes to show how the right game at the right time can have a massive impact.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Shaggy absolutely killing it in the rap game, or Naruto flexing his stuff in the Leaf Village, this is the game for you. But even without all the wild and ridiculous mods, Friday Night Funkin’ is just a fun, silly game and perfect for a quick gaming fix. It deserves all the success it’s experiencing.
Friday Night Funkin’ is currently available to play in-browser on itch.io.