Monday, 28 July 2008
Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master) - DS
My love for rhythm action games runs deep: PaRappa the Rapper, Ouendan, Elite Beat Agents, Rhythm Tengoku, Gitaroo Man and Un Jammer Lammy are just some of my favourites. But there was one game that has, until now, passed me by - Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master).
I read about it years ago when it was out in Japan on the PS2, but never took the plunge. But after messing around again with Rhythm Tengoku and Ouendan recently, it crept back into my mind. So, without messing about, I ordered the first DS version from Japan and I've put a good few hours into it.
It comes packed with two drumsticks - one red, one blue. The aim of the game is very simple, but like the best rhythm action games, it takes a good deal of pratice and effort to master.
The DS's touch screen displays a large drum, while across the top screen, small red and blue circles move from right to left towards a vertical line. When a red circle reaches the line, you tap the centre of the drum, but when a blue circle hits the line, you have to tap anywhere outside the drum. You'll also see big versions of the coloured circles which require you to use both sticks rather than just the one.
Add to this drumming frenzy long drum rolls, double-sided hits and balloon notes, and you'll be kept on your toes for quite a while.
The game starts with three difficulty modes, Easy, Normal and Hard, but there is also an Insane difficulty that can be unlocked. I've tried a couple of songs on Hard, but for a novice like me, this brought me out in a cold sweat. I was left gawping at the screen as a constant line of circles whizzed by.
If you complete a song without missing a single beat, you are rewarded with a gold crown. Collecting crowns also unlocks new songs and small gifts for your pet Taiko.
Yes, you have a pet drum, who lives in his own little room. You can deck him out in all manner of funky outfits and you can change things such as his face and body colour. Right now, my Taiko is kitted out with a full tiger outfit and a Geisha-style hairpiece! Nice.
There are 30 songs available right from the start and they cover a wide range of musical styles: J-Pop, anime tunes,, classical scores and videogame music. It really doesn't matter if you have a deep hatred for J-Pop as you'll be so engrossed in keeping the beat, that you'll just have a huge grin on your face as you laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing.
There is a second Taiko DS game out in Japan, but I'll wait a while before getting my hands on a copy, as I'm only currently halfway through Medium level - I can't move on until I get gold on every song.
For those wishing to import, the language barrier doesn't cause much of a problem, as it's pretty obvious what's going on. It's a great rhythm action game and well worth checking out if you've completed Elite Beat Agents and are looking for a new challenge.