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PSP Video Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2 (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる 2)

If you enjoy “Taiko no Tatsujin” and have a Sony PSP, this is a must buy! Namco managed to improve from the last “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” PSP game. Highly recommended!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2 (太鼓の達人 ぽ~たぶる 2)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

DEVELOPER: Namco Ltd.

COMPANY: Namco

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.

With the first release of “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable”, I absolutely loved it! Not only do you get plenty of cool music but three mini-games, downloadable content, wireless multiplayer and more! Granted, I was thrilled to hear that there would be a sequel, but the question is how far can Namco go in improving it. Can they improve the game? Or would it simply be the same game with more songs?

GAME MODES:

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 as opposed to the X button for primary button selection.

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. This mode has changed from the first game that instead of just the one selection, now you can practice with the other songs featured on the main game plus select various practice modes that can rank your skills.

Orange – A story mode mini-adventure game in which you interact with characters from the “Taiko no Tatsujin” world and by answering the correct answer and each answer can change the storyline and give you a different ending.

Yellow – Mini Games – There are a total of four mini games. In the balloon game, you are a turtle who makes animals from balloons. Press the right button and do the correct analog stick movements without popping a balloon. In the cake game, you are served three cakes shown at the beginning and then mixed up. You are then served the cakes. The cakes that are good, you hit the regular buttons to eat it, the cakes that are bad, you hit the shoulder button to toss them. For the daruma doll game, you set your PSP vertically and you drop things on the dancing disco dog who has his arms holding the items. Like building a tower but making sure you drop the items in a row without it tipping over. In the paper airplane game, the Taiko no Tatsujin character rides on a paper airplane. You control the plane via analog stick and make sure it flies a long distance without crashing.

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!

GAMEPLAY AND CONTROL:

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 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.

BUTTONS:

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.

GRAPHICS:

The game features animated graphics of the “Taiko no Tatsujin” characters. The colors are vibrant and the animation is pretty cool. There is more usage of the character with the added story mode of the game. Also, the animation from the mini-games are pretty cool as well.

AUDIO:

“Taiko no Tatsujin Portable” features a lot of cool Japanese music. This is not for the players looking for American songs let alone English-based song but for those familiar with the J-Pop or anime songs in the game will have a blast.

This is not a complete list of what is included int he game but you can select from J-Pop, anime, variety or classical tunes. The vocal songs are from the original artists. There are a total of 60+ 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:

Remioromen – Konna Yuki

Sukima Switch – Zenryoku Shonen

Ai Otsuka – Frienger

Bump of Chicken – Karma

Ken Hirai – POP STAR

Kumi Koda – Butterfly

Spitz – Robinson

Kobukuro – Sakura (from the anime series “Eureka Seven”)

CAT’S EYE (from the anime series “CAT’S EYE”)

Dramatic (from the anime series “Honey and Clover”)

Zankoku na Tenshi no Te-ze (from the anime series “Neon Genesis Evangelion”)

OZONE – Dragostea din tei (Koi no Maiyahi)

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.

The second game does include a story mode mini-game which requires a person to read Japanese but that is more of a side-game featuring the characters and is not an integral part of the game. So, this is possibly the only part of the game that requires a person to know Japanese but for the main part of the game, it’s easy to learn and get into.

Overall, “Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2” 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. But what is more impressive is how they added to this game and also improved on it.

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.

Like the first game, there really is no negative I can find with this game. If I had to nitpick, I wish there were more commercial, mainstream J-Pop songs but overall, they mixed things up in terms of J-Pop, anime, classic and there is a lot of downloadable music for this game as well.

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 (and also the other game) are highly recommended!

OVERALL: 98% out of 100

PROS:
+ Improvements made since the last game

+ 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

+ Four mini-games

+ Two player Co-op

+ More Downloadable songs are available

CONS:
– There could have been more songs for a certain genre but that’s being nitpicky

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