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Play styles

This page will detail the various different ways in which players can choose to play in their respective game modes.

osu!

Mouse-only

Mouse-only was once the only way to play osu! until other playing methods were supported over time.

Also known as pure-mouse, mouse-only players navigate the in-game cursor with a mouse and also tap beats, follow sliders, and spin spinners with only left/right mouse click.
The play style is widely considered the hardest method to play and mouse-only players who rank high in the overall rankings are usually greatly respected by the community.

The key overlay shows left/right click as M1 and M2.

Dual Mouse

Dual Mouse is a play style in which a player has a mouse in each hand; using one mouse to tap and another one mouse to aim/move.

It is used to be considered a joke play style to most players until May 2013 when a Canadian player named Azer starting getting scores on maps such as Hatsune Miku - With a Dance Number (val0108) and The Quick Brown Fox - The Big Black (Blue Dragon) whilst playing Dual Mouse.
It is also common for Dual Mouse players to tape the tapping mouse to the desk.

Mouse + Keyboard

Mouse + Keyboard is the most popular play style for osu! because it uses only the most basic computer hardware which are the mouse and keyboard.

Mouse + Keyboard players play almost exactly the same way as mouse-only players with the only difference being that 2 keyboard keys (Z and X by default) are used instead of the mouse itself to tap.
Some players use only the keyboard to tap while others only switch to the keyboard when streaming (very fast string of beats) and use mouse click for other circumstances.

The key overlay shows keyboard presses as K1 and K2.

Tablet tap (or Tablet-only)

osu!tablet

A play style for players with a graphics tablet (Digitizer).

Tablet-only players use a tablet pen instead of a mouse to navigate the in-game cursor and only tap beats by tapping the pen onto the surface of the graphics tablet itself without the need of a keyboard.

The input overlay will show all tablet taps as M1.

Tablet + Keyboard

A popular play style for players with a graphics tablet (Digitizer).

Tablet + Keyboard players use a tablet pen instead of a mouse to navigate the in-game cursor and tap beats using the keyboard or the tablet buttons.
Much like Mouse + Keyboard, some players also use only the keyboard to tap while others will switch to keyboard when streaming.

Sometimes referred to as tapx, it describe how the streaming with Tablet-only playing works.
To stream as a Tablet-only player, the player should alternate between tapping the pen on the tablet and pressing one assigned secondary key (since the pen tap was considered as M1, only the secondary tap button will work, and X is usually the default secondary tap button).

Touchscreen

A possible play style for players who own a touch-enabled monitor, laptop screen or tablet.

Players touch the screen to instantaneously navigate and tap to the beat.
This play style may feel slightly similar to playing osu!stream by touching the screen directly rather than by hardware support (mouse, graphic tablet).
Some players may opt for this play style when available or when they do not own a graphic tablet.

The key overlay shows touch input as M1.

Touchscreen + Keyboard

A play style used by players that owns a touch-enabled monitor/laptop screen, the play style is mostly adopted by touchscreen players who could not perform streams using only the touchscreen.

The play style can be similar to Tablet + Keyboard as some monitors allows for a pen to be used instead.

Other styles

  • Laptop touchpad/trackpad: While being theoretically possible, most players prefer not to use a trackpad because of the extreme difficulty involved (specifically, controlling the cursor movement on the limited space of the laptop touchpad/trackpad). The trackpad is used (instead of a mouse) to navigate the in-game cursor.
  • Joystick: A creative way to control osu!cursor. Player hold and move the joystick around to move the osu!cursor and taps on the trigger/face buttons (depending on player's joystick design) or keyboard keys to register the beats. It is least preferred because the skill required to control the joystick movement and most don't own it unless they also play other games (World of Warplanes for example).
  • Metal plate: A special way to replace the keyboard for tapping beats. This method was introduced by geckogates and requires some wiring and electronic knowledge to build. The player will attach a wire to the clicking fingers (connected to keyboard's circuit for Z and X) and will touch the metal plates to register beats.

osu!taiko

Keyboard

Keyboard was once the only way to play osu!taiko until other playing methods was supported over time.

To put it simply, the player press the assigned keyboard keys to hit the drum parts; X/C for drum center (Red) and Z/V for drum rim (Blue).

There are two main styles of setting the keys placement in the keyboard, KDDK (Taiko default, or BRRB) or DDKK/KKDD (or RRBB/BBRR).
These represent the combination of keys settings to hit the notes.
There may be other weird combinations but are rarely used.

For key-binding, the default is Z X C V (KDDK, or BRRB).

Taiko controller

The default play style and controller for the Taiko no Tatsujin series(Taiko Drum Master for US).
Most skilled players play using the Taiko controller either bought or created from scratch.

Player will carry each hand respectively a taiko/drum stick and hit the surface (Red) or rim of the drum (Blue) to register the note based on where it is hit.
Most Taiko controllers connect to the computer by using Bluetooth connector should there be no USB connecter.

Other styles

  • Gamepad: One of the possible play-style in console variation of Taiko no Tatsujin series (including Taiko Drum Master). Players register Don/Katu by pressing the face (Right Don, or Right Red), arrow (Left Don, or Left Red) and upper buttons (Left/Right Katu, or Left/Right Blue).

osu!catch

Keyboard

The most commonly used and default play-style for this mode.

Players press <-/-> arrow key to move the catcher, and also can hold down leftShift to trigger Dash! effect.

It is possible to edit the keys used; some players enjoy A/D for movement and Spacebar/rightShift for Dash! effect.

The key overlay shows <-/-> arrow keys input as L/R respectively and leftShift as D by default settings.

Keyboard + Mouse

An minor alternative play style of Keyboard, with the trigger for Dash! effect done by using mouse clicks instead.

Joystick

A possible play-style for players used to pixel-old arcade cabinets' control scheme.

Players move the head of the joystick and press the face button/trigger/keyboard key to trigger the Dash! effect.

Gamepad

A possible play-style for players comfortable playing with a gamepad.

Players press the left/right arrow of the gamepad to move the catcher left/right and press then hold the face button to trigger the Dash! effect.

osu!mania

Keyboard

External guide for Mechanical Keyboard

Keyboard was once the only way to play osu!mania until other playing methods was supported over time.

Players place their fingers on the keyboard keys with respect to the key-bindings and currently playing Keys setting.
The advantage of this play-style is that it can accommodate basically all the Keys setting.

The only catch-point is getting used to it and generic keyboard's ghosting effect/membrane keys.

DJMAX/O2Jam/Beatmania IIDX/etc. arcade controller

The play-style tuned for seasoned veterans at conveyor-type rhythm games.

Since 8 Keys requires mapper's decision or Game Modifiers, most players owning these arcade controllers can handle up to 7Keys (max default) and 1 special.

Dance Pad

Dance pads are controllers for games like the Dance Dance Revolution series, and the Pump It Up series. (StepMania is a semi-well known community-driven clone of both of these games).

Players dance on the dance pad to input commands. DDR pads have 4 panels: Up, Down, Left, and Right. DDR Solo pads add Up-Left and Up-Right to that. PIU pads have 5 panels: Up-Left, Up-Right, Down-Left, Down-Right, and Center. 9 panel pads also exist, for compatibility with both PIU and DDR without having to change a pad. Normal DDR and PIU pads are often used in doubles mode in their respective games, where one player uses 2 pads for a song. DDR Solo games were all single-player, so they aren't commonly doubled.

A major drawback with using a dance pad is that it can be hard to hit multiple keys at once. To hit 4 notes on a DDR pad, you would either have to use your hands along with your feet to hit them, or position your feet on 2 panels at once.

Another drawback is that osu!mania maps may have been designed without dance game chart flow in mind, limiting the amount of charts you can (comfortably) dance to. Dance games are often charted with dancing chart flow. One big rule of the many rules of charting for a dance game like DDR is mostly being able to switch feet for every note (with some exceptions). Since some osu!mania maps don't really follow those rules, this can make it really awkward to play a lot of maps on a dance pad.

Other styles

  • Guitar/Drum set(5/6K): The default controller for guitar-themed(Guitar Hero)/drum-themed(Drummania) rhythm game. Players streams on their guitar/hit the drum or cymbals to input commands. Drum players have a disadvantage compared to guitar players because they can only input two commands at a time without a special kick pedal.
  • Para Para controller(5K): The default controller for Para Para Paradise series. Players move their arms, elbows and hands straight above the proximity sensors to input commands based on hand position through the proximity sensors. The drawback is the sensitive input receiver and player's physical limitation.