Another Great Rhythm Game Makes Its Way To DS

User Rating: 8.5 | Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Touch de Dokodon! DS
Critics and players alike seem to be able to agree that the DS does at least two things quite well – puzzle games and rhythm games. I'm not a huge fan of the former -- though I have my moods -- but I have been known to enjoy a good rhythm game from time to time. I was lured into trying Elite Beat Agents because of all the great feedback it received, and the game lived up to the hype. I've also enjoyed an extremely cute import title called Pinky Street Kira Kira Music Hour, a highly overlooked rhythm game / sim. Now comes Taiko no Tatsujin and it, too, now has a special place in my gaming heart.

Upon release on the DS, I learned that Taiko no Tatsujin is also a popular arcade game in Japan (and perhaps other countries outside the U.S.) So, it seems the DS version was well-anticipated by the Japanese gaming audience, and through the Play-Asia hype, I heard about it. Out of the many imports available on the Play-Asia site, Taiko no Tatsujin looked like a game that would be relatively easy for a non-Japanese-speaking person (like myself) to pick up and play. I was right. It's very import-friendly and, with just a bit of trial and error, you'll be banging your drum to J-pop in no time...or I should say, in time…with the rhythm.

Yup, if the title didn't give it away, the game is all about you banging your taiko drum to the rhythm of various songs. There's quite a selection of tunes, ranging from ethno-fusion to popular video-game music, such as the theme from Super Mario Bros. Beat signatures pass along the top screen, and you need to tap your drum at just the right time with the music. There are two main types of strikes: hitting the actual drum skin, and hitting the rim of the drum, but there are, of course, variations of these actions. Sometimes you'll have to hit the taiko drum really fast in succession in order to make a balloon pop before the next hit marker appears, and other times you'll have to quickly alternate between skin hits and rim shots. It's a basic system – much in the same way as EBA – but it's also very difficult to master, especially as you take on the higher difficulty levels.

The main thing is, however, is that the game's fun – lots of fun! It's cute, quirky and has a great sense of humor. Even if you don't understand a lick of Japanese, the music says it all. The tunes also come across in very high fidelity, considering the specs of the DS. The game consists of a collection of actual songs, rather than MIDIs, and the variety – as alluded to earlier – is wonderful. You can also choose to change the sounds your taiko makes. If you're feeling a tad irreverent, you can make your drum produce some great fart & burp sounds, and who doesn't love farting and burping!?

The graphics are a perfect fit, I must say. I'm not just piecing the aspects together for the game – it doesn't need my help. No, the graphics aren't stellar in any technical sense, but the look of the game is fun and funny. You can dress your taiko up in various outfits, unlocked from successful completion of songs, and you can even tinker with the colors of his different parts. Not understanding Japanese, I'm still uncertain if these outfits offer any bonuses or boosts during gameplay, but – heck – they sure look darn cute.

Overall, Taiko no Tatsujin offers a large selection of tunes to bang your drum to, along with some local-multiplayer options. It's an extremely fun game, it's cute and the four levels of difficulty ensure quite a bit of replay. The game's also very import-friendly, so if you're seeking another great rhythm game – perhaps to sit alongside your copies of Ouedan 1 & 2 – definitely give Taiko no Tatsujin a look (and listen). It's a great game from our friends overseas.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming!