Friday Night Funkin‘ is an open-source cartoon rhythm game developed by some artists who met on Newgrounds. The people involved are Cameron Taylor (ninjamuffin99) along with visual artists David Brown (Phantom Arcade) and an unnamed artist going by evilsk8r. Music is done by Isaac Garcia (KawaiSprite). Friday Night Funkin‘ is available to play for free on Newgrounds as well as to download of itch.io.
Described in the opening credits as “like Parappa the Rappa but cooler” and akin to the quintessential rhythm game Dance Dance Revolution, Friday Night Funkin‘ is a colorful rhythm game with an unmistakable early 2000s flash animation art style. Initially released on November 1, 2020, the game’s objective is literally written to “press arrow when arrow over other arrow. And uhhh don’t die.”
You play as “the boyfriend,” a blue-haired teenager who speaks in boops and beeps and just wants to hang out with his girlfriend. It seems the entire world is against you two though, and you must engage in rap battles with a number of opponents who have the only goal of seeing you and your girlfriend separate. You can play in two types of modes, the first of which is Story Mode, where levels are split into “weeks” where you have to best your opponent at three songs. Secondly there is Freeplay, where you can select any song from any of the six available weeks (seven on the Newgrounds website). If, like me, you grew up on early 2000s Newgrounds you’ll be sure to recognize some familiar faces and cameos. Most notably you face off against Pico from the infamous flash game Pico’s School as your third week opponent.
Friday Night Funkin‘ is your textbook “simple to learn hard to master” game with great style and a truly addictive soundtrack. As a huge fan of DDR I was excited to jump into similar content and for fans of the rhythm game genre Friday Night Funkin‘ does not disappoint. The flash animation style is spot-on and will make any early internet denizen gleefully nostalgic. My only complaint is that there isn’t more of it to enjoy, with a total of 18 levels + 3 extra exclusive to the Newgrounds version. However, for a completely free-to-play game with the level of heart and creativity that’s clearly evident here I’m in no position to complain.
Where the real interest lies is in the overwhelmingly positive reaction the game has garnered, becoming an absolute sensation and flooding the streaming scene on Twitch and Tiktok. Members of the gaming community almost immediately began programming their own mods for the game, expanding a 30-45 minute game into hours upon hours of entertainment. The explosion in popularity inspired the developers to open a Kickstarter to further develop the free-to-play game under the project title “Friday Night Funkin: The Full-Ass Game” on April 18, 2021 with a goal of $60,000. The campaign goal was met within two hours of posting, and after one week has already raised over $1.3 million with over 33,000 backers (myself included). As of May 3 the project has met almost all stretch goals, including 15 additional levels, 10 playable characters, online multiplayer, and more. The game is set to be released April 2022 on Steam, iOS and Android.
Solely looking at the game its current form Friday Night Funkin’ is a fun little rhythm game with a cast of colorful and sometimes terrifying characters complemented by music you’ll want to put on your running playlist. Friday Night Funkin‘ is a love letter to some of the earliest days of online gaming, a wild west where an artist’s unbound creativity and passion was easily felt in each submission. It’s a game that somehow made me revisit Newgrounds after easily a decade and it does not disappoint. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the day I can write a review on the full release. You can play the game for free here or back the full game project at the Kickstarter page, which runs until May 18.
Friday Nigh Funkin'
A free-to-play rhythm game with heart, an active community, and a full release coming next year. Anyone with a love of the genre or that early 2000s Newgrounds aesthetic would do well to check this title out.
- Easy to pick up, mod friendly, good music
Prognosis is good