SOUND VOLTEX (also referred to as SDVX) is a Japanese arcade rhythm game released in 2012. The game was developed by BEMANI, the rhythm game division of KONAMI, the 20th biggest video game studio on the planet.
BEMANI is known for many other popular rhythm games in Japan (Beatmania IIDX, Dance Dance Revolution, GITADORA...). Some of those games even made it to the west as arcade cabs or as console games.

But what is SOUND VOLTEX?

SOUND VOLTEX's gameplay is quite simple. You have 4 big square buttons, two small rectangular "FX" buttons, and two knobs that you can turn either left or right.

The controller and the cab actually look like this.

sdvx controller sdvx controller

Contrary to other rhythm games, the goal of SOUND VOLTEX is not to "play" the music correctly, but is rather to apply sound effects on top of a song, and make them sound good. The different types of buttons apply different types of sound effects to the music and you get points for "effecting" the song correctly.

Here's a typical SOUND VOLTEX screenshot during gameplay.

sdvx gameplay
The game is similar to a classic Beatmania-style vertical scrolling rhythm game : the notes fall, and you have to hit them with the right button when they hit the critical line.

However, there is a pretty big twist : the lasers. Remember the two knobs you saw on the controller? Well, they're not for controlling the volume of the song, but to control 2 little cursors that have to follow a laser on the chart.
There are two lasers in the game : the left one which is blue and the right one which is red.
These two lasers can appear in the song following the rhythm of the music.

A video always speaks better than words so here's a video of a rather simple song.

Interested? Intrigued? Well, despite being only available in Japan, SOUND VOLTEX has become a little more available in the western world in the last few years. There are currently 3 main legal ways to play SOUND VOLTEX in the west to this day :

The best way to play the game is to play it on an actual official SDVX cabinet, which are restricted to Japan and other Asian countries. Luckily, a Japanese arcade company, Round1, has started to open arcades in the USA, bringing with them some of the latest Japanese arcade games, including the last iteration of SOUND VOLTEX : VIVID VAVE. If you live in the USA and want to try SDVX out check if there's a Round1 near you.

If you live in Europe or anywhere else, there are still ways to play the game. The second one is to play SOUND VOLTEX on your PC. In 2017, BEMANI released the PC version for SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS, on a subscription-based business model. You'll need to buy a SDVX controller for PC and to get a subscription on KONAMI's website (which is in Japanese), but fear not, there are plenty of well documented tutorials online.

The third way would be not to actually play SOUND VOLTEX, but a simulator. The two main ones are free and are called K-SHOOT MANIA and unnamed SDVX clone. You will still need a SDVX controller for PC, and you will most likely have to play community-made songs instead of the official BEMANI charts. But it'll get you an experience pretty close to the real deal.

If you'd like to get more information or simply chat with friendly people about rhythm games in general, the Make Some Noise discord server run by my friend Tina would be a good place to start.

woosh woosh!