A PSP Video Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる)

If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this is a must buy! Highly recommended!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる)




In Japan, one of their top music games featured in the arcades and for consoles is “Taiko no Tatsujin” which began back in 2001 and even the US had a single release titled “Taiko: Drum Master”. The game allowed people to take taiko-like wooden stick and beat on the drums. As the song is displayed on the screen, if you hit the drum in the correct moment, using the correct hit, the better points and ranking you will receive.

Of course, the easier the level, the fewer drum hits you have. The more advance, the level the more drum hits you will see on screen. In 2005, the first “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” was released for the Sony PSP. Featuring the cute “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters from the video game series, the concept of the game is fairly easy. Instead of using sticks, you use the buttons from the PSP.


To begin the game, you select your saved player which will then take you to a screen feature the various game modes. Please remember that in Japanese games, circle button is the main button to select the various modes as opposed to the X button.

The game modes are as follows (reading from Japanese right to left):

Purple – Save Game Mode

Blue – Items Mode. See what items you have opened up.

Light Blue – Wireless Multiplayer Mode – Play against 2-4 friends.

Green -This is like a practice mode where you hear the Taikou drum character singing a traditional Japanese-like song alongside with a guy and you can practice your hits along to that song and get a good score.

Orange – A challenge mode which you play several games which adjusts to how well you do in each game.

Yellow – Mini Games – There are a total of three mini games. In the Factory Game, the PSP is turned vertically and you use the analog stick to control levers in which rivets drop into a steel cup. In the sumo game, you go against another sumo wrestler and you will see colored circles. Hit the appropriate taiko drum button (in coordination with the color you see) to make your sumo do a move. The faster you go, the better your chances of winning. The third game is the dancing disco dog. He will dance and then the screen will pause showing which button you must press on the directional pad or the main buttons. As the game progresses, it gets faster and more multiple buttons must be pressed.

Red – This is the main game in which you select the song you want to play and choose the difficulty. Beat each song to open up more songs!


To play the game, you will see the drum beats come by. Once those drums land in a circle on the left, you must press the corresponding button(s) at the same time.

If you see blue drums, that means shoulder buttons must be used. If you see red drums, then the directional pad and normal buttons must be used. Small drums means hit the drums quick, bigger drums means a longer hit.

If you see a stretch of yellow, that means you hit the drums via the direction pad, shoulder buttons and buttons as fast as you can. You see a red drum with a bubble, it means hold down the direction pad down while you hit the buttons on the right of your PSP as quickly as you can to pop it.

If you see a bell, then you move your analog stick left and right as quickly as you can.


Left Shoulder Button – Hits the left rim of the drum

Right Shoulder Button – Hits the right rim of the drum

Left and Right Shoulder Button – Hit both at the same time if you see a full light blue drum.

Directional Pad – Hits the left side of the drum

Any buttons on the right side – Hits the right side of the drum

Directional Pad and Buttons – Hit together when you see a full red drum come by.


The game features animated graphics of the “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters. The colors are vibrant and the animation is pretty cool.


“Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” features a lot of cool Japanese music. This is not for those looking for American songs but for those familiar with the J-Pop or anime songs in the game will have a blast. This is not a complete list but you can select from J-Pop, anime, variety or classic tunes. The vocal songs are from the original artists. There are a total of 45 songs with more than dozen songs that can be downloaded from the Japanese website. Granted, the songs are not mainstream but still, it’s cool that people can download music online. Included are songs such as:

Whiteberry – Hana Matsuri


Porno Graffiti – Neo Melodramatic

Ai Otsuka – Sakuranbo

Undergraph – Tsubasa

Orange Range – Hana

EXILE – Choo Choo Train

Mi – Mirai no Chizu

The Blue Hearts – Train-Train

Kageyama Hironobu – Cha-La Head-Cha-La (from “Dragon Ball Z”)

Matsuya Hiroko – Lum no Love Song (from “Urusei Yatsura”)

Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Rewrite (from “Fullmetal Alchemist”)

Crystal King – “Ai wo Torimodose!!” (from “Fist of the Northstar”)

Yoshimi Iwasaki – “Touch” (from “Touch”)

T.M. Revolution – ignited (from “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny”)

Lupin the Third Theme ’78 (from “Lupin the 3rd ’78”)

QUEEN – “We Will Rock You”

Britney Spears – “I’m A Slave 4 U”

If I don’t Understand Japanese Can I Still Enjoy This Game

Actually, yes. It’s an easy game to figure out. It may seem a bit daunting at first with all these screens but you can literally figure it out yourself. Overall, the game and the mini-games are easy to get into and there is not much in terms of reading that a player needs to do. There is dialogue from the Taiko drum but it’s mostly cute phrases on how well you do.

Overall, “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” is an enjoyable music game for the Sony PSP. For those who enjoy music/rhythm-based games will how much Namco was able to fit into this game and the fact that you can play wireless and also download songs online is a major plus. The fact that you can play various mini-games is also a major plus.

The game offers quite a bit of challenge depending on your skill level but even for those who are not that good at music/rhythm games can easily get into the basic levels and still enjoy the game. And you can open up more songs, more sounds (to replace the regular taiko drum sounds) and more.

Personally, there really is no negative I can find with this game. If I had to nitpick, may be more songs…but still nearly 50 songs is still pretty good. As for gameplay, It’s a game that anyone can get into and have fun and not have much difficulty. If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this game is highly recommended!

OVERALL: 97% out of 100

+ Game is easy to get into for people of different skill levels.

+ Cool animated graphics, cool music!

+ Controls are easy to use and the game loads quickly

+ Three mini-games

+ wireless multiplayer (up to four people)

+ Downloadable songs are available

– There could have been more songs but that’s being nitpicky

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