Ontamarama follows the story of the Ontama, little spirits of music that can be shifted into notes by the player. All features of Nintendo DS input are used, including the digital pad, touchscreen, and the microphone. The player must first progress through the game's story mode to unlock stages that can then be played in 'Free Mode' at any time. The soundtrack consists of both J-Pop and J-Rock, which are synchronized to the notes that the player must successfully hit. It was developed by Noise Factory.
Like most rhythm games, scoring and performance depends on being able to hit buttons in synchronization with the music. In Ontamarama, there are four possible note colors: orange (up), blue (down), yellow (left), green (right) as well as two types: long, short that can be hit. Short notes are cleared with a single button press, while long notes must be held down and released at the appropriate time. At the beginning of the game, the player is asked if they are right-handed or left-handed. This allows the player to choose if they will use the digital pad or the A, B, X, Y keys of the Nintendo DS to hit these notes. Notes begin empty and appear at the top-right of the DS touchscreen. The Ontama, which pop up in the remaining portion of the touch screen, are used to 'fill' the notes. Once a note is filled, the player can then hit the note when it arrives at its destination on the top-left portion of the touchscreen.
Ontama appear on the touchscreen and must be selected by the player to fill notes. The simplest method is to tap an Ontama on the screen. Another possible method is to draw a complete circle around one or more Ontama to select one or more simultaneously. Drawing a circle can fail if its diameter is too large, so it is a difficult concept to master.
Ontama can be Orange, Blue, Yellow or Green to match and fill notes. Ontama can also be white or black. Selecting white Ontama has a positive impact on your performance, while selecting black Ontama has the opposite effect. They can also appear in different sizes. Huge Ontama must be tapped twice or must have a circle drawn around them in order to fill a note.
For a limited amount of time, all Ontama on the screen are automatically placed into notes if the player blows into their microphone. Depending on the difficulty of gameplay, there are only a limited amount of times this can be done.
Scoring and Performance
A player fails a stage if their performance drops to zero. Scoring is determined by how well the player manages to synchronize their notes as well as how notes are hit in a row without misses (chaining). The different note hit possibilities are: Master, Great, Good, and Miss.
Items can be purchased at an item store in-game and used in a stage. As the player progresses in story mode, more items become available.