If you like rhythm games, I would recommend Headbangers: Rhythm Royale. As Boiling Steam put it, it’s the “Fall Guys of Rhythm Games”.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I sort of get these Mario Party vibes when playing the game. From the groovy music that plays on the main menu, to the funky personality of the characters, to the mini games that are played.

You play as an odd-shaped, teal-colored pigeon. You can customize the way your pigeon looks from the main menu, from their hair style, to what they wear for glasses, to neckbands, to their main article of clothing. More cosmetics can be purchased with the in-game currency, which is bread (no, I’m not kidding you).

When you hit “Play”, the game will attempt to find 29 other players around the world. If you have crossplay enabled, this will allow you to find more players who are playing on console. When the countdown timer ends and the game can’t find enough players, it will fill in the void by adding CPU-controlled opponents.

Headbangers - Fitness mini game

From there, a series of random mini games are played. In “Garden Party”, for example, you’ll have to press the appropriate button in time to the music being played. In “Guess It!” you’ll need to match the sound you heard to the appropriate instrument presented on the screen. There’s 23 mini games altogether, and most of them involve some sort of rhythmic pattern to follow, where you have to press a series of buttons and time them as closely as possible to the original beat being played.

Make a mistake, and you might be eliminated. This is where the Fall Guys comparison comes in. So, though the game starts off with 30 players, 10 are eliminated each round. Do your best in the mini game, and you might have a shot at surviving to the next round. There will be 20 players in the second round, 10 in the third, and finally, 5 in the fourth and final mini game. By the fourth round, you simply can’t afford to make any mistakes; if you make as much as one, you’ll be eliminated. This will continue until there is one lone survivor standing. The longer you last, the more “bread” you earn.

The mini games will start off easy. In “Fitness”, for example, your job is to tilt your pigeon’s head in conjunction with the pattern that the coach pigeon sets. As time goes on, however, the coach’s patterns will be more difficult to follow, as the coach will rapidly move its head from side to side, making it harder to remember their pattern. The players who mimic the coach’s movements the most will survive onto the next round.

Headbangers - Guess It! mini game

During each mini game, some blocks will randomly fly around. If you’re fast enough and press the appropriate button, your pigeon will grab this box, giving you some kind of bonus, like double points, or will cause calamity to your foes, such as temporarily blocking a part of their screen. It’s hard enough as it is trying to study the patterns set by the “main” player, so to speak, so it can be a bit distracting trying to grab these items. There’s also the “bonus rounds” where tilting your pigeon’s head around in circles as fast as possible will earn you bonus points. Try and see if you can do all of this while trying to focus on the main objective of the mini game.

I will say the game is a bit barebones in terms of game modes. There’s no training mode. There’s no offline play mode. Basically, customize your pigeon through the in-game store, set a couple of different in-game options if you need to, see your progress, then play online. What actually surprises me, is there is no options in terms of graphics configuration. You can control the resolution, adjust input latency, enable or disable crossplay, enable or disable vsync, but there’s no graphics presets to choose from. You’re stuck with the default preset as is. Thinking that this might have been just specific to the Steam Deck, I tried running the game on my laptop. Nope, that wasn’t the problem.

There’s also no Steam Cloud support. Man, this is really getting on my nerves. Seems like half the games I’ve reviewed over the past six months or so don’t have this feature.

Works Excellent on Deck

No complaints here. Runs out-of-the-box on Deck. I do recommend playing this game with the OLED model if you have one; the higher 90 Hz refresh rate, as well as the reduced input latency, will definitely come in handy here since button timing is critical.

Headbangers on Deck

In the main menu I was able to set the TDP limit to 5 W and the max GPU clock speed to 600 MHz while still maintaining 90 FPS. However, this framerate may slow down a bit while in-game, so a safer option would be 6 W/700 MHz respectively.

Family-Friendly Fun

All in all, I like this game. It actually kind of reminds me of the Mario Party games I played as a kid. Those games were a lot of fun, and so is Headbangers. The mini games are vibrant and can be quite a challenge the longer you try to survive. The game could use a bit of QoL improvements as far as graphics options, as well as at least having a training mode, but otherwise, it’s pretty great.

TL;DR

The good:

  • groovy music, groovy characters
  • Mario Party nostalgia
  • entertaining, challenging mini games
  • crossplay
  • works great on Deck!

The not-so-good:

  • barebones in terms of game modes; no training mode
  • no adjustable graphics options
  • no Steam cloud support

Headbangers is available on Steam for $20.

Review key provided by PressEngine.

WARNING: LGC will be shutting down March 7, 2024. See this post for more details.