Were not far off two releases for Taiko no Tatsujin and so it’s time for a big song, dance and drum! This will be the first time the series has made its way to Europe since the heavily edited PS2 day of yonder. This time around we’re not just getting one but two titles! Both titled Taiko no Tatsujin but the differing subtitle and list of songs changes between the Switch and PS4 releases. Given that the series is still pretty unknown and more of a cult rhythm game than most, it’s the perfect time to bash those drums and have a look into the series!
Why do I care so much about such an obscure rhythm game? Well if you know me you’ll know I’ve a passion for fun music games. I’ve personally spent a crazy amount of time playing all kinds of niche music games from every release of Sega’s Hatsune Miku Project Diva series to better known titles such as Donkey Konga. If it’s got a bizarre mechanic and enjoyable tracks, chances are I’ve played it at one time or another. One of my all time top 10 games is Gitaroo Man and that should tell you everything.
Music games typically rely on the player to time their presses to buttons or actions with the rhythm and beat of the music and you’ll typically be graded on how close to the perfect timing your press was. From Rockband to Beatmania every chunky bit of plastic with button presses rely on the player to smack or flick them in time to the beat in perfect harmony, the rush from feeling like your making music and the joy that elevates the game from simple air guitaring with a racket. Taiko no Tatsujin absolutely nails this and it’s arcade origins of a big drum and sticks are essentially just a side note.
The system of Taiko no Tatsujin appears to be simple at first glance. You’ve a drum with a big red centre that’s big enough to be hit with either stick and a rim. That’s it. If your playing on a controller typically up and left on the dpad will be the left rim, down and right will be the left half of drum, 1 button for right half of the drum and 2 button for the right half of the rim. Why bother with multiple buttons for a simple system? When you have fast and heavy drum beats with multiple inputs you won’t be quick enough with one finger or hand to hit it over and over. Think of it like learning how to use the guitar in Guitar Hero and holding a button down to move onto the next. In Taiko no Tatsujin when the beat picks up and your having to make well known beats you’ll be swapping fingers quickly just to keep the combo going.
All of this just leads Taiko no Tatsujin to another music game where your either abusing your accessories (or your fingers) to make music seem like it’s happening. What’s the biggest fundamental difference to putting on Amplitude? It’s pretty simple really, the feedback from doing well to the music. From it’s Arcade roots of needing to drum up attention and keeping people there, the game has always rewarded a player that’s succeeding by not drastically changing the gameplay but having characters, colours and the surrounds start to bounce to the beat. It rewards the player in a similar way to Guitar Hero Live (before that game was even on the drawing board) The fact you can focus on the little dots as they fly across the screen timing to button presses while still enjoying the little bopping figures is something most music games miss out on and given they bop to the beat it creates a sensation that boosts the mood of riding a beat to success.
In most music rhythm games there’s something enjoyable and simply fun about them that just lets you chill out and enjoy. The Wii version of Taiko no Tatsujin is just as much of a blast as you’d expect with crossover stages filling the screen with either Vocaloid, Mario characters or Monster Hunter cats. The new Taiko no Tatsujin for the Switch seems to be positioning itself in this way with the current song list and by this version sporting some extra minigames focusing on a fun multiplayer experience. The DS title was originally like this with songs that were lighter and with a more Pop focus and in keeping the same way the Project Diva series has previously, using chibi light versions for the 3DS title.
The PSP Taiko no Tatsujin title was the entry I poured hours of my life into so for me the PS4 version is where I’ll be hitting the beats. The PS4 version is where the ranked multiplayer and most of the really difficult classical musics appear to be. There are plenty of anime titles I know I’ll be going to first. Still, like it’s previous arcade origins of old I know that I’m going to be drumming away not to necessarily be the best, but to have fun. At the end of the day what more could you ask for?
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! & Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session is out on 2nd November 2018!