As I said in a previous thread, the way I got into Sony PlayStation after my decade long Nintendo fan boy-ism was through Dance Dance Revolution. But that wasn’t the only thing that kept me playing the PlayStation. It was mainly the Rhythm game genre that got me into the PS1. As much as I wanted to stay faithful to the Big N, Nintendo didn’t have any rhythm games, yet. Even though I got into DDR first, I would eventually work my way through playing other rhythm games such as Beat Mania and the NaNaOnSha games. NaNaOnSha were the guys behind Parappa the Rapper, the first big hit in the Rhythm genre. Then came a sequel called Um Jammer Lammy. Then came an obscure game that didn’t get a release in the US, Vib Ribbon…
— RetroGubbins (@RetroGubbins) March 6, 2014
So what is Vib Ribbon? Well it’s a very simple vector based game where you play as Vibri, a wireframe rabbit, that simply walks across the play field just like a runner game, like Canabalt and Temple Run. But there are different shaped obstacles that Vibri must get around. Basically, each finger acts a different move, using your left thumb you press down to step over large gaps. Your left index finger over the L1 button performs a jump, you use this on blocks, they look like walls in the game. Your Right thumb on the X button makes Vibri roll, you do this over zigzags. Finally, your right index finger over the R1 button makes Vibri do a somersault, you use this on the loops. On harder levels, the obstacles change a little by merging into one another, such as a Star loop, which is a loop and a zigzag merged together, to get over that you need to somersault and roll together, so you press R1 and X together.
There is a scoring system in the game based on combos. Where you score more points the more obstacles you go over without failing. However the score isn’t represented by numbers, rather it’s done by symbols. The combo meter isn’t represented by numbers either, rather it’s a set of pink dots that surround Vibri. When you make a full ring of these pink dots, Vibri dons wings and a kings crown, and scores more points. But if you fail an obstacle you loose the crown, don’t earn as much points and have to score the pink dots again to turn back into the king. When the level is over, the symbols on the top of the screen turn into actual numbers and show you your score. It’s interesting that you don’t know your score until you finish the level…
The idea is that the obstacles that come to Vibri’s way are in a rhythm to the song playing in the background of the game. Thing is, the game itself only has 3 songs on the disc. That’s where this game gets interesting! The idea is the VibRibbon, just like the first Ridge Racer, is so small, the whole game (apart from the music) can be dumped into the PlayStation’s tiny 2 mega bytes of RAM, and the player can put their own CD into the PlayStation and create levels based on the music on that CD. Meaning that there’s a near infinite number of levels you can play on this game ranging in different difficulty levels.
Here’s the Gorilaz 19/2000 played in VibRibbon.
It’s a bit weird how Vib Ribbon didn’t get to the US. I think this would’ve been a great game for any PlayStation owner in the nineties! It’s one of those Japanese oddities that everyone should at least try once.
There were two sequels to Vib Ribbon, Vib Ripple, and Moji Ribbon, both on the PS2 and only released in Japan.
Vib Ripple is an odd game, not that Vib Ribbon is any less weird, where you go around bouncing on images in a rhythm to “bounce out” hidden objects for points. From what people said on the latest Retronauts, you can pass this game…
Moji Ribbon doesn’t feature Vibri, but a little stick man wielding a calligraphy brush called “txt”. “Moji” in Japanese means letter, so this is a game based on writing. Though you don’t really write in this game, rather you flick the right analogue stick down in rhythm to music in the game where a round symbol appears that makes txt start writing and reciting the text. Interestingly the game can access an email account, and you can turn emails into levels, similar to how you can make your CD collection into levels in VibRibbon. However this required the network adapter, which is sold separately to the game and the PS2.