Released on: November 1, 2020
Available Platforms: PC, MacOS, Linux
Developed and Published by: Ninjamuffin99, Phantom Arcade, evilsk8r and Kawai Sprite
Around the mid-2000s, almost everyone I knew had a computer and at least some form of internet connectivity. I remember hearing about the viral videos at the time (Numa Numa, The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, the Awesome Series, etc.) Back then, Youtube was not as ubiquitous as it is today (only getting its start in 2006). This meant there was more than one site that housed all of those videos. Many of the most popular animations and Flash games found themselves on several sites like Miniclip and Newgrounds.
Newgrounds was a favorite of mine, as it has cartoons, games, and music. A few years ago, I was delightfully surprised to find out that it was still as operational as it was back when I was a teenager. While I like youtube for its widespread availability. I think it would be troublesome if it had a monopoly on video/animation sharing. While I don’t believe Newgrounds competes with Youtube, I still like to visit from time to time. Recently, a rhythm game is making rounds on the internet. That game, of course, is today’s subject, Friday Night Funkin’.
From the clips I saw (on Youtube, funny enough), Friday Night Funkin’ is a rhythm game similar to Dance Dance Revolution, except played exclusively on the keyboard. From watching other people online play the game, I got hooked on the music. If my review of DJ Max Respect is of any indication, I love rhythm games. Thus I had to check the game out for myself. Since the current version of the game is free, I decided to try out the itch.io and Newgrounds.com versions of the game. Is Friday Night Funkin’ ready to get freaky on a Friday night?
In Friday Night Funkin’, the player controls a small, blue-haired boy known as “the boyfriend” (or BF). Every week, he clashes with quirky characters looking to halt any good time BF and his girlfriend had planned. BF is having none of that! He challenges the eccentric characters to a sing-off so that he and his girlfriend can get back to their good time.
If we are going by what the game tells the player, there isn’t much story. In fact, to my knowledge, the only piece of information the player gets from the game regarding the characters is their name on the top right corner of the screen when selecting which week to play. Despite this, I find myself wanting more from the story in a good way. The vagueness of the story is piquing my curiosity in the best way possible.
Friday Night Funkin’s visuals fill me with a sense of nostalgia. It might be because it’s played in a web browser, or it could be the fact that the game has a bunch of characters I recognize from Youtube animations and Newgrounds cartoons. Either way, I love how the game looks. Some of the songs pack so much detail in their background. The character design is colorful, despite the crudity of some of the humor. One other neat thing I like regarding Friday Night Funkin is the girlfriend’s head will bob to the beat of the current song, acting like a metronome.
I can’t stop listening to Friday Night Funkin’s music, and I am not ashamed to admit it. The songs themselves don’t have lyrics, having the melody carried by the beeps and the bops of the characters. That doesn’t matter, though, as Friday Night Funkin’ has a banging soundtrack. Some notable favorites of mine include Dadbattle, Pico, M.I.L.F. (it’s the name of the song I swear), Roses, and UGH. There are many others I’m sure I’m missing, but those five songs have cemented themselves into my brain and are not leaving anytime soon.
The gameplay in Friday Night Funkin’ is wholly reminiscent of games like Dance Dance Revolution, where arrows pointing either left, right, up and/or down will scroll up from the bottom of the screen, indicating which direction the player needs to push in time to the music. Where Friday Night Funkin’ stands out, is that the opponent character will spit out their verse, to which the player must try to match it right after. Sometimes, the song will have the player play notes at the same time as the opponent, so the player can’t be complacent during the song.
Friday Night Funkin’s take on having “rap battles” play out like Dance Dance Revolution makes it feel refreshing. I don’t know if it’s that or the quality of the songs, but completing each week feels rewarding, despite the absence of a results screen or a “you win” screen. I often find myself going back to Friday Night Funkin’ time and again.
To those who are computer savvy, I’ve got some good news. Friday Night Funkin’ currently has mod support. Anyone trying to install these mods should exercise caution concerning what files they are installing (as they should with any mod they install for any game.) Messing with the game’s files could have unintended effects. With that disclaimer out of the way, the mods I’ve seen for Friday Night Funkin’s are out of this world! Some mods change the characters, others add new songs. There are even some that rework the visuals. One of my favorite things with PC games is the ability to mod games and the fact that Friday Night Funkin’ allows mods is simply outstanding.
I have to mention that Friday Night Funkin’ is still a work in progress, meaning some things are either missing or needs improving. The aforementioned win screen absence is one such area that I feel could spice the game up a bit. Some of the stages are tough, so getting some form of success validation would be nice. As it stands, the stage just… ends. After beating the final song of the week, the player is sent back to the week select screen.
A significant issue I noticed with the itch.io version of the game is that the hit detection is noticeably off. Notes that the player swears they hit, the game will ignore, or think they hit the note too late. While it is possible to acclimate to the offset of the notes, the Newgrounds version plays much more intuitively. This makes the itch.io version of the game harder to recommend (unless the player wants mods).
Friday Night Funkin’ is delightful for those looking for a quick, easy to get into rhythm game. The visuals are charming, the music is spot-on, the gameplay (on the Newgrounds version) is intuitive, and the premise is delightful. Those that don’t mind a little bit of crude humor and who are fans of rhythm games should check out Friday Night Funkin’ especially since it’s free. (It is worth noting that the development team is currently at work making a full version of the game.)