When it comes to the rhythm genre, the most satisfying and easy-to-pick-up games tend to involve slapping/banging/hitting a drum. This style of game taps into that magical part of our childhood where the top priority is making noise and annoying our parents to tears. While at MAGFest, Chip and I enjoyed the drum-pounding simulator Taiko no Tatsujin 3. In this game, the player assumes the role of a cartoon taiko drummer, and bangs along to various popular Japanese songs. According to my research, this title is one of series made up of roughly fifteen different iterations. It seems this is a remarkably popular game series, presumably because it’s really hard not to like.
The best part of our experience with Taiko no Tatsujin was that the game was entirely in Japanese. For those of us who only speak English, this feature added an air of subtle mystery/utter confusion to whatever the hell is happening on-screen. Lucky for us, the major game mechanic was not particularly complex, so it was rather easy to follow along. There are various places on the drum that correspond to different symbols that scroll across the screen:
[Red symbol] – hit the face of the drum
[Blue symbol] – hit the rim of the drum
[Small symbols] – strike on one side (doesn’t matter which)
[Large symbols] – strike on both sides
There is also the occasional purple symbol, which signals the player to beat the living daylights out of taiko drum, until the animated cat(?) finishes eating the sweet potato, but I’m not entirely sure. Did I mention I don’t speak Japanese?
The popularity of Taiko no Tatsujin is pretty extensive and has been adapted to nearly every modern platform that comes from Japan. There are even mobile versions for iOS and Android, which unfortunately are not available outside of Japan or Hong Kong. Some of the magic is likely lost on these versions, since the most satisfying component of this game is actually playing on an enormous drum. For those of us in the States, the options are a bit more limited.
Outside of importing a game and drum, and modifying your console to play foreign games (NOTE: GIMMGP does not actively condone the practice of system modification, unless you are really great at it), there is only one way to have the taiko experience at home. Taiko Drum Master was released way back in 2004 for the Playstation 2 in North America. The game featured a pair of drums, which you and a partner can pound away to random pop songs and Namco game music. So if you and a friend want to spend a weekend drumming along to Britney Spears’ Toxic, just hop on Amazon and pick up this odd title for your PS2. Or just come to MAGFest and play tons of fun J-Pop music instead. Whatever works for you.