I love rhythm games, they’re so much fun to play with family, friends, and solo. My first one would have been Guitar Hero III that then lead to me playing the entire series to them expand onto other games, such as Rock Band. My love for Anime and the Japanese culture lead me to finding Hatsune Miku and the Project Diva games, which I played a hell of a lot and me and my friend’s proper fan girled over the Vocaloids. Over the years though I have heard and seem footage of an arcade game in Japan where the players use a Drum as the means of playing the game, which then had me wondering whether we in the west would ever get a chance of playing it. Well, this year my wish came true and the first time in the West we are able to get our hands on Taiko no Tatsujin. I’m reviewing the PlayStation 4 version of the game which is Taiko no Tatsujin Drum Session which sadly didn’t come with the drum controller though you will get an insight into the Switch counterpart Taiko no Tatsujin Drum ‘N’ Fun because I desperately wanted to play the game with the drums and to see what difference they had.
For those that might not know, Taiko no Tatsujin is a rhythm game where the main object is to hit the notes that are represented as Don and Ka to the beat of the songs as they scroll from right to left. Originally an arcade game that later got released on various consoles in Japan. This game is the first one to come out for the PS4 and allows you to play the arcade classic game from the comfort of your own home.
If you have the Drum accessory with the game which sadly I don’t, then you play the game by simply hitting the middle of the drum for the red notes and the out rim of the drum for the blue notes, can’t get any simpler than that which is one of the reasons I love this game. Though if you’re using the controller then you set it up so that your controller represents the red and blue notes. This way of doing it is nowhere near as fun as using the drum but it is still really fun to play.
You get different notes such as Mallet, Drum Roll, and Balloon that require you to do a drum roll to complete them. You will also get big red and blue notes that when using the drum will mean hitting it with two sticks rather than just the one however if you are using the controller you just hit the corresponding button.
The game is made up of Taiko Mode and Ranked Matches. Taiko mode is fun to play because it allows you to play the songs and on whichever difficulty you have chosen. Mainly play this game mode trying to get the high scores and perfect the songs, whereas Ranked Matches pit you against other player’s ghosts and have you go head to head to see who will win. I love this mode because it’s a challenge to rise the ranks and try and become the ultimate Taiko master. You get a Bingo mini game in Taiko Mode that by completing certain tasks earns you Don Coins. These can be spent in the treasure box area to unlock extra things in the game such as clothing and add-ons for your Don.
While playing you need to time your hits with the notes on the screen, it’s broken up into good, ok, bad and miss. Hitting goods will give you higher points and missing the note altogether provides you with nothing and a loss of your streak, if you have one of course. Getting high streaks and continually hitting notes correctly will lead to you getting more points and earning that high score.
It’s amazing how much fun this game is and how simple it is to play. I was so happy with the PS4 version playing it on the controller that I managed to get a hold of the Switch version with the Drums (before it sold out) to give it ago. I will come onto that later.
You can also customise the look of you Don which adds a sense of uniqueness to your character when playing Ranked matches and I personally just love all the cute and cool designs available in the game. You can also unlock side characters that do site beside your Don which is awesome, no surprise to see that I have Hatsune Miku as my side character as she has shown up as a guest character in the game.
A rhythm game isn’t complete without its song list, I have to say I’m very pleased with the selection of songs the game has to offer, my personal favourites being Let it Go, Guren no Yumiya the Attack on Titan opening and of course ZenZenZense from Your Name. You are able to unlock more song via paid DLC at an affordable price which is also a bonus. I do love playing the game with high volume as it really gets you in the mood and bopping along to the songs.
The game is in Japanese which means that certain things might be hard to understand but for the main elements of the game which are important are in English. Graphically the game is colourful and really packs a punch in terms of flare and things going on. During songs, you’ll have little characters dancing on the screen while the notes scroll past. When you get streaks and achieve certain miles stones the UI gets more crowded with more characters and effects. This is my main flaw with the game, the notes as they go past especially on harder songs really mess with my eyes and I lose track of the notes and it really ruins the gameplay at times and to top it off when everything else is going on around the notes it adds to that burden while playing. There are times when after playing two to three songs on normal I have to take a break because my eyes are sore or I feel a bit sick. Though I’m not sure if this will happen for other players it’s just what I experienced. It can be overwhelming sometimes and very off-putting, this is my first rhythm game where the notes come in from the side so that could be it as used to them scrolling down the screen with Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I have this similar issue when playing the Hatsune Miku Project Diva games.
There is plenty to do, as you can play the song list as many times as you like and with 4 difficulties to try and get perfect scores on it will eat up your time. Not to mention the DLC songs that come out and even the Ranked matches that allow you to play against other people ghost data. You also have the treasure boxes that by collecting DON coins will allow you to unlock collectibles for your DON and also different titles. There really is plenty to do in Taiko no Tatsujin and I only really stop playing it properly when going to bed, at work or of course if my eyes start to play up.
Switch Version – Taiko no Tatsujin Drum ‘N’ Fun!
I won’t go into too much with this version but more highlight why it’s the better one to go for if you want the drum accessory. You can get the drum for the PS4 it just doesn’t come as a bundle in the UK and costs a bit to get import whereas the Switch version came with a collector’s edition that came with the drum which is a better start. The switch version comes with a lot more to do in terms of game modes. It has its own unique character in it such as Kirby and also features party games that are really fun and not on the PS4 version. It’s more enjoyable playing the Switch version with the Joy-Con because you can do the movements as if you’re hitting the drums to play the game. You also have a few different tracks on the Switch version like How Far I’ll Go from Moana and Cha-La Head Cha-La from DragonBall Z. Ultimately the Switch version was better the minute I got to use the drum. It makes this game ten times better and a completely new experience and definitely more fun. The design for the drum is awesome and very sturdy and works perfectly fine just like the Arcade version. Trust me as well that after a few songs using the drum you will also feel like you’ve been working out but I’m not complaining. The only issue is the noise and vibrations from the drum, sadly not a game you can play into all hours of the morning while using the drum unless you’re lucky enough to own a soundproof room.
For my first time playing a Taiko no Tatsujin game, I wouldn’t say I did too badly having played both the Switch and PS4 version. The PlayStation 4 version sadly is hard to get hold of physically in the UK and doesn’t come with a bundle which is disappointing and even worse is that the Switch USB drum doesn’t work with it either. So having to buy the game and drum from abroad and have them imported is quite a problem personally. That’s why I would recommend the Switch version more because you can get the full experience for £89.99 which is worth every penny. I do love the PS4 version don’t get me wrong the soundtrack was better and I enjoyed the customisation of the Don and every second I played. The issue with the UI is off-putting and at times can ruin your gaming experience but if you take breaks and come back to it then you can still persevere through it. Overall the experience was amazing and I’d highly recommend Taiko no Tatsujin to people who love rhythm games and might want something different and new. That’s why from my time playing the game I can give it a solid 9 out of 10.