By Pangster007 4 Comments
While the NDS is enjoying a sleuth of music/rhythm games such as Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! (or the Western equivalent - Elite Beat Agents) and the more recent, and well-marketed, Rock Band On Tour, there is one more music title lurking in the background known as "Taiko No Tatsujin DS: Touch De Dokopon!". TaikoDS is a portable translation of the much-loved arcade game Taiko No Tatsujin which features the unnervingly large, 'japanese Taiko drums'. While the arcade version is played standing up, can recognise drum hits to the side and on top of the drum skin, and also doubles up with a 2 player mode, just how well does the portable version stack up in recreating that fun arcade experience? It is also quite evident from the name alone that this game is only available in japanese. But because the NDS allows region-free gaming (so a japanese game will work on an american or european NDS) the question is, "is it import-friendly?" - It's a music game, yes it is.
Wait till the red/blue beats reach the line and then tap!
There is no specific story to this game and so non-japanese gamers aren't missing out. The tutorial it provides is self-explanatory with good visual instructions and you can start drumming and tapping the on-screen Taiko in seconds. At most, import gamers will miss out on the 'unlockables' which you access in your 'Room' (text heavy). You also have to take notice of the middle bottom button in the song-selection screen to adjust difficulty levels - also handy for replay value. TaikoDS is as intuitive as tapping a table with a pen in tune with a beat, simply due to the touch screen capabilities of the DS, although if you wanted to, you can just press the buttons and shoulder triggers - but where is the fun in that? The 2D visuals are nice, clean and cartoony and has it's own japanese-quirky charm. With the cute Taiko mascot beckoning you on, you have to drum and tap in time with the red and blue beats moving across from right to left. Hit 75% of the notes and you pass, hit all of them and you are rewarded with a gold crown.
Keep at the game long enough and you'll have a stack of silver/gols crowns.
Unlock presents as you progress but just try reading these messages...
The song list has a lot of variety: there are some childrens' songs, some cla-ssical, some techno, some japanese Pop here and there, and even the Mario theme is included. Beginners playing on 'easy', will get to grips with the game and won't find it too easy. Long time rhythm game players will plough through 'easy', and find good challenge in 'medium', 'difficult', is obviously difficult and beating this level will actually unlock a harder mode which i'd find nigh on impossible! Regardless, people of all skill levels can find a good balance with the songs and difficulty options. By the time i was playing on difficult, i'd questioned whether i had to resort to double DS pens! There is one other thing when it comes to difficulty though, is that the game allows you to play with buttons instead of tapping and is an easier way to play the game - i'd choose tapping over buttons though as a way to remain faithful to the 'Taiko-drumming spirit' ( ).
Get enough crowns and you'll be rewarded with a cutscene.
The game also allows multiplayer via Wi Fi and is perfect for those competitions between fellow Taiko players - unfortunately, multiplayer requires each player owning a copy of the game. There is much replay value in this game considering you can go over every song in every difficulty aiming for that Gold crown, that is, if you can bear hearing the same songs over and over again. I almost forgot to mention that the sound is of bad quality through the NDS speakers, but plug in some earphones (or into your PC speakers if you want) and it'll sound great. The game is very accessible: almost all ages can play, requires no previous experience with any game, and even for those who don't understand japanese can play it. Venturing through the menus, you can also customise your mascot in a variety of colours, outfits and accessories, all of which is unlocked as you complete the game. Trying to fill out your inventory is rewarding and is something that makes you want to try and be a completionist. While the game does well in trying to recreate the physical arcade experience, i'm a little disappointed: the game can be played easier by just using buttons and the tactile hitting of a drum is just not quite the same. Due to size of the small touch screen, you can often mistakenly hit in/out of the drum as you focus on the timing shown on the top screen. Despite these negativities Taiko No Tatsujin DS: Touch De Dokopon! is one really fun, and portable rhythm game.
Here's the 'room'. Like my pimped up Taiko guy?