“Friday Night Funkin’” is Cartoon Rhythm Game Excellence


Victor Farias, Editorial Board

On a similar, but smaller scale of internet virality compared to the previously covered Among Us, Friday Night Funkin’ is a rhythm game that was first released in November 2020 on itch.io, an indie developer game sharing site, and on Newgrounds.com, an online entertainment site that hosts user-created content such as animation, art, and games. Initially developed for Ludum Dare, an online event where video games are made from scratch in a weekend, Friday Night Funkin’ captured the hearts and ears of the internet masses as it snowballed into the public eye over the past five months into another internet phenomenon that’s seemingly inescapable.
You play as “Boyfriend,” our blue-haired protagonist who wants to get with “Girlfriend” but her ex-rock star father doesn’t approve, so you must win him over through the power of music and drop some sick beats in an all-out rap battle. Whether it’s your hired mercenary ex-boyfriend or your girlfriend’s demon of a mother (literally), it always seems like Boyfriend gets caught up in some wild shenanigans that end in a full-on rap battle for the heart of his girlfriend. The gameplay is as simple as hitting the color-coordinated arrow keys whenever they line up with their marker and having good hand-eye coordination, but it all provides more than enough challenge in three difficulty modes to keep you retrying every time you lose.
I initially discovered this game as its popularity was beginning to ramp up and played through one of the earlier builds of the game when it only had about 3 levels (or “weeks” as the game refers to them) and immediately caught on to the hype surrounding it. What followed was watching the game grow astronomically to the point where I listen to the soundtrack frequently, with my YouTube recommendations getting riddled with videos relating to the game.
Developed by a team of four amazingly talented creators (ninjamuffin99 handles the programming, PhantomArcade and evilsk8r provide the incredibly charming artwork, and Kawai Sprite makes the infectiously catchy soundtrack), together they bring life into the world of Friday Night Funkin’ that oozes with style and personality with a concept as simple as hitting the arrow keys to the music whenever the game prompts you to do so. The game shines in just about every aspect, so there’s plenty to enjoy even if rhythm games aren’t your thing.
Following the site-crashing release of their most recent level (“Week 7” featuring Newgrounds signature “Tankmen” starring in their own rap battle at their restricted military base), the Friday Night Funkin’ team launched their long-awaited and suspected Kickstarter and as of the writing of this article, have absolutely smashed every stretch goal and funded a total of $2,050,000, completely surpassing their initial goal of just $60,000. All of these goals promised a mobile phone port of the game, 25 more levels on top of the 13 more that were already promised, (giving the game up to 45 levels and over 100 unique tracks), online multiplayer and leaderboards, and more playable characters aside from Boyfriend.
Another major factor in Friday Night Funkin’s enormous success has to do with their community of modders who took advantage of ninjamuffin99’s willingness to distribute the source code of the game so that anyone can make music, levels, and characters themselves. This freedom allowed the community to grow as large as it has while they provide themselves their own content as the developers work on the full game’s release. Thanks to the modders, some of the most popular content surrounding the game doesn’t even come from the original creators themselves, including mods such as the “vs. Tricky” mod, where Boyfriend rap battles a maniacal zombified clown, or the “vs. Zardy” mod, where Boyfriend puts his rapping skills to the test against a haunted scarecrow in a corn maze, being one of Friday Night Funkin’s most difficult mods.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the future of Friday Night Funkin’. Both the community and their content, as well as with the creators and all the tricks they have up their sleeves, will spend the next yearor so working on the final release of the game. I highly recommend you check this game out for its incredibly captivating art style, infectiously catchy tunes, and difficult, practically brain-teasing gameplay.