I’m going to come out and say this up front: I am absolutely terrible at this game. Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you how great osu! is. First of all, it’s a rhythm game – you play by the music. If you’re not that great at keeping a beat (like me, maybe?), then you’ll probably not be that great this game (like me). You might, however, be great at this game (unlike me), because pretty much everybody else but me is better at rhythm games than I am.
The main way of playing osu! involves the mouse – it requires you to click on big round buttons at certain times as they come on the screen, right as the beat comes up. There’s occasional buttons that have you hold the button down and follow a certain path as it comes on the screen. There’s also a wheel that you have to click and spin your cursor around as quickly as possible in order to clear and get extra points. That’s about it. Despite this wealth of game elements, the game is deceptively tough as nails. Most of the songs that come with the game (which is free) involve a tremendous amount of beats per minute, which translates in a lot of buttons to click in quick succession on the screen. This leads to a very quick game where catching the flow and going with it becomes paramount if you want to be successful and get a better mark than a B. You get score depending on how precise you were on your timing, and you get punished pretty heavily for missing any of the beats. Miss enough and you have to try it over again.
Get into the groove and hit all the notes and you’ll feel like a god who can do no wrong. Hit all of them and you’ll feel dejected, kinda like me. You will, however, improve, and with repetition you’ll get better and better at each and every song, which are nicely sorted for you in the playlist. The playlist itself starts out rather small – you are encouraged by their website to download individual songs or beatmap packs in order to expand it. You can also make your own beatmaps if you are so inclined or if you want your favourite songs get some beatmaps. What I’ve noticed on the website is that most songs there involve copious amounts of anime, nightcore or dubstep remix tracks. Not exactly my sort of songs, but I can see why the game revolves around them – they’re really the only kinds of songs that have the beats per minute necessary to make sense with the game’s design. There are other game modes in the game – you can play a platter game where you have to catch fruit that falls from above, there’s a keyboard game where you have to press 7 keys in the rhythm of a note bar (that one feels hard as hell), there’s also another mouse game where all you have to do is press mouse buttons as they come from the right. It’s all deceptively simple, and deceptively difficult because of the speed.
There’s also multiplayer, and a whole multiplayer lobby system where everybody who is logged in shows up. I haven’t played much of it, but the head-to-head mode is just single-player with a score comparison. It’s nice enough, I guess, but there isn’t anything special about it. All in all, it’s a rather special kind of game, especially good for people who enjoy rhythm and music. I do enjoy both of those, but I suck at osu! You can play it for free from here: https://osu.ppy.sh/p/download. It requires an account. The game also looks a hell of a lot better in motion than while stationary. so screenshots don’t really do it justice.