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Important Importables: Taiko no Tatsujin DS review

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Taiko no Tatsujin DS

Title: Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Touch de Dokodon
Price: $48.90
System(s): Nintendo DS
Release Date: July, 26, 2007
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Namco)
ESRB Rating: “CERO A” for all ages
Pros: A unique music game with great songs that comes with two free styli.
Cons: Gets repetitive and you really need to play it at a table.
Overall Score: 6.5/10

I know last column I stated I’d be reviewing Taiko no Tatsujin: 7 Islands’ Adventure, because that was the Taiko DS game I thought my friend had purchased. It turns out he bought the first one, Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Touch de Dokodon. Since it is a timeless and popular music game, I figured a review would still be warranted.

The Taiko titles are beloved and well known in Japan, but still enjoy anonymity in other regions. The Taiko arcade versions can occasionally be found in arcades and Taiko: Drum Master was released for the PlayStation 2 in North America.

Taiko no Tatsujin DS was a huge success and continues to be a top seller with more than 500,000 copies sold in Japan. Part of its success stems from the novelty of the game – the touch screen has a drum, which you tap on with two included styli in time to the beats.

Song selectionLittle drummer boys and girls

If you’re looking for the complexity of Ouendan, then don’t look here. Taiko DS is a music game, yes, but it is more simple and relies more on rhythmic tapping than carefully executed and ordered taps and drags.

You basically play the drum in time to snippets of songs from quite a few genres. Some of the more notable inclusions are Japanese pop songs, Anime themes, classical tunes, a few video game medleys and some traditional drum songs from Japan.

There are two areas of the drum to hit, the center and the edge. If a red drum-face appears on the top screen, you hit the center of the drum when the top drum appears in the indicator. If that drum-face is blue, then you tap the rim of the drum instead. During more difficult songs a good sense of rhythm and attention is needed, but you can coast through the songs on if the difficulty is set to easy or normal.

Play for a purpose

If providing rhythmic backup for song snippets gets tedious, and at times it does, then perhaps one of the other game modes would be more an appropriate use of time. The multiplayer is wonderful, but the daily trials and challenges leave something to be desired.

First the daily trials and challenges – they’re frustrating. The trials can be done once per day and offer little reward. If all the songs are unlocked, then all it does is raise your rank (or lower if you fail) or provide an item. Challenges also provide decorations. That’s it. I wasn’t motivated to really follow up with them.

On the other hand, the multiplayer easily makes up for the failings of the other mode. Between two and four players can play with one cartridge. You can obtain certain special items during play which will help you do better, or hinder your opponent’s performance. The winner is the user with the highest score.

The top screen during playGimmicks get old

The whole mini-drum on the touch screen is really a great idea, and it is handled very well in the game. In fact, I don’t think Taiko DS could have been handled any other way.

At the same time, it gets old pretty quickly. In order to play properly, you basically have to be seated at a table with a stylus in each hand. It makes it feel more realistic, but takes away the convenience that comes with a portable game.

The gameplay also is repetitive. Drumming is fun but only in short spurts. I found myself playing for 15 minute intervals over the past week. I wanted to play for longer periods, but I just couldn’t force myself.

I’d recommend casual Taiko fans should purchase the DS version of Nodame Cantabile instead. It contains a Taiko mini-game (along with a Ouendan-style conducting mini-game and other assorted games) and is on sale at Play-Asia for $19.90. Its a much better value.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Next week I’ll go over three DS games which will never be localized for a North American release. If you don’t miss a single installment of Important Importables, or want to know right away when the next column is up, then sign up for the Gamertell Newsletter and RSS feed.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables listed the best Naruto games.

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