If Super Mario married a guitar god from Rock Band, their offspring might resemble something like Mevo & the Grooveriders, a quirky music game for the PC. This side-scrolling rhythm puzzler is both entertaining and challenging and what it lacks in the originality department it makes up for in sheer fun.

Music is good and silence is bad – this is what you need to know going into Mevo & the Grooveriders, as our hapless alien critter must reunite his band, the Grooveriders, and bring funk back to save the universe. Players must control Mevo through five psychedelic worlds, by running, jumping, swimming and flying from the left side of the screen to the right.

Much like console titles like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the core gameplay element here is to tap the correct button on your keyboard at the right time. While navigating through these five worlds – Ocean, Jungle, Desert, Space and Wormhole – players will be instructed to tap the left or right Shift button (or Spacebar and Enter) just as Mevo comes across it. Sometimes you’ll need to tap and hold the button for a predetermined amount of time (such as down the curved stem of a giant flower in the second world) or both keys at the same time or alternate between them quickly ("freestyle.")

You’ll collect rewards, pull off combos, decide the path throughout a level, unlock badges and awards and use power-ups. If you hit enough correct notes during each of the levels you’ll advance to the next and unlock silver, gold or diamond CDs, but you won’t make it to the next world unless you have at least one diamond CD on one of the levels. This is pretty tricky, but with enough combos (a string of successive notes hit correctly) and avoiding mistakes (caused by missing a note or hitting the wrong button) you can do it with some practice and patience. This is one cute and colorful game – but it’s no cakewalk.

Play well and gamers can unlock ways to customize Mevo with funny hats, facial hair and dance moves. Using points collected per level to personalize your hero in a myriad of ways proves to be a fun reward for playing well, and players can share their creations on MevoWorld.com. In total, there are 17 kinds of bodies, 23 faces and six dance moves. Some costumes come with power-ups to give Mevo an edge when necessary.

The music in the game is downright catchy. With playful funkadelic tracks, rock riffs and some electronica beats, there is certainly a lot of good and original music to sink your teeth into. Developer Red Rock Games says all tracks are produced in-house, with live musicians.

While players will hear specific notes, percussion or sound effects when they correctly press the right or left button, it’s not exactly in time with the music, which might throw off some players (myself included). Perhaps this is because this side-scrolling adventure is more freeform than a tightly structured game like Guitar Hero, where the notes hit the front of the screen in time with the beat.

But hey, we’re nitpicking here. While the game "borrows" heavily from popular rhythm games on consoles, it adds a fun story, adorable characters and memorable worlds. Mevo & the Grooveriders is wacky, addictive and challenging, and is sure to amuse and entertain for many toe-tappingly hours.