Crazy Japanese quirkyness abound in this fiendishly addictive rhythm game from Namco

User Rating: 8.4 | Taiko no Tatsujin Portable PSP
I'll Start with a disclaimer, Im not a massive fan of rhythm based games by any stretch of the imagination, sure Ive had a few fumbles on DDR every so often and Ive play a couple of rounds on beatmania but those games have never really grabbed me as much as Taiko no Tatsujin (translated as master drummer) has.

For the uninitiated (and im sure there are many) TnT is a very popular arcade game in japan. You are given two drum sticks and two drums (similar to donkey konga) and a series of icons will scroll along the screen from right to left. Its your job to hit the drums at the required times. There are several types of strike that the player can make, From the normal left and right jabs to hitting the side of the drum and (in the psp version at least) there is a bell to ring at certain points in a song. In the psp version the front of the 2 drums are mapped to the D-pad and face buttons for left and right drums respectivley. The shoulder buttons handle the side of the drums. If it sounds simple thats because it is. None of your 4 way floating arrow nonsense here!

But dont let the simple control scheme fool you. Namco have cooked up some fiendeshly difficult patterns to master. The game starts out with 30-odd songs but there are more to unlock if you earn enough points (points are earned after every song whether you complete it or not so you will eventually unlock them). Each song has 3 difficulty levels (difficulty levels are ranked by various types of fauna) a 4th 'devil' mode is also unlockable.

With a game like this the main attraction is of course the songs. And if you are from the west you are unlikely to have heard of many of them. (although there are a few that you may of heard of, most surprisingly a Britney Spears number...) They go from J-pop sweet as sacherin to some rousing orchestral pieces, indeed there is something for everyone and noone are so horrific you will hate playing them.

So you may be wondering if I dont like rhythem games then why did i play this one so much. three words. CRAZY JAPANESE KOOKINESS. If you like the weirder side of the japanese then you should pick this game up at the next oppertunity. This thing has every angle covered. The cast of characters is one of the strangest to grace any game I think ive ever played. There are body building dogs, talking drums, robotic drums, flying drums (yeah lots drums). This game is laden with all sorts of japanese oddities and they are definately to the games credit. There are also 3 midly distracting mini games featuring dancing animals, discoballs and one minigame that has you turning the psp 90 degrees to play it. They are a nice addition but its the songs that will keep you coming back for more.

there are really only a few weak points that mar this game. The first is that although the control scheme is servicable and fairly simple, it can be a bit of a strain to get to the shoulder buttons and face buttons during some of the faster songs (my hands would sometimes become cramped). The only other downside is that the game is not very import friendly (the chances of an english version being released is VERY slim). although its fairly easy to work out what todo there are alot of things that are difficult to understand unless you speak japanese (the menus are a bit of a hassel).

Overall though, if you totally dig strange off the wall titles that will deliver something a little bit different then my all means hunt down a copy as fast as you can!