I had seen screenshots of Trombone Champ earlier this week and thought it was some kind of Wii Music meme I’d completely missed. Now that I know it’s an actual game of its own, though, I am very glad I’ve had the chance to check it out.
Developed by Holy Wow, Trombone Champ is currently available on Steam, though a Mac version is also on its way. It’s a rhythm game where you’re playing a trombone, and have to move your mouse (and hit a button) to match the music currently playing.
It’s relatively simple for a rhythm game, but Trombone Champ is not a game for needless complexity. Trombone Champ is a game to play when you want to laugh, and feel good about the medium of video games. And also kinda learn about the history of music, in ways that are not entirely historical.
The game’s launch trailer explains pretty much everything about it:
What’s important to note here is that, while the game is funny—and from its lootbox parodies to the animation to the over-use of the word “toot” it’s funny for all ages, a rarity—it’s also…pretty good?
A lot of modern rhythm games go hard on trying to be more complex, faster, really bring something new to the table. But Trombone Champ just wants you to move a mouse up and down the screen really fast while holding the left button down (or smashing the keyboard, which is easier, and also funny since the game lets you mash any letter key).
That’s it! I’ve played this game before, from Ouendan to Donkey Konga, and it’s the latter this whole thing most reminds me most of, from the entirely unserious premise to the absurdity of smashing your way through a piece of beautiful classical music with the most obnoxious sounds imaginable.
That’s fine because this system works, it’s solid and it’s fun. The appeal here doesn’t necessarily come from the gameplay itself, but the forever-running joke that you are playing these songs with a fucking trombone, and that the Mii-like characters are some of the funniest avatars I have ever seen in a video game.
While the game’s currently out on Steam, and is coming to Mac, as far as console versions go the developers say “further ports are possible but not currently planned”.