Taiko Drum Master
Taiko's pretty bangin' for the import PSP scene.
When Taiko Drum Master was released for the PlayStation 2 a while back, it brought with it a new approach to the music/rhythm genre that a lot of fans of Namco's work easily picked up on...myself included. Let's face it, I got a lot of joy banging a drum to the likes of "Don Rangers!" and a Beethoven tune, as ridiculous as I might have looked. The game still gets constant play on my machine, and it kinda makes me curious about something. Could it work for a portable machine?
Probably not, I first thought, since you can't really use a drum peripheral on the likes of a PSP or cell phone. But, believe it or not, Namco has actually made Taiko no Tatsujin Portable for the Sony PSP a bit of delight all its own, even if the game is somewhat limited in comparison to its American brethren. The game concept is about the same- you bang the drum to the rhythm of the song that's selected, following icons on the screen and hitting the correct motion at the right time.
The gameplay uses the analog stick, the face buttons, the digital pad, and the shoulder buttons quite effectively during play, even though some button taps seem to be a little easier to get away with than others. For instance, the PS2 game requires you hit the inside of the drum or the side during specific spots, but here, you could hit the general drum motion and get away with it. But it's still fun, and manages to pick up greatly in difficulty with later songs to keep you busy anyway.
The graphics look just as colorful as the PS2 version, complete with happy Japanese interfaces and ridiculously animated characters cheering you on as your combo builds. The song selection is very different from the PS2 version, complete with great Namco classics (like the Katamari Damacy theme, with an appearance by King of All Cosmos) and some cheesily done pop tunes (did we really need another version of "I'm a Slave 4 U"?). But I'm sure fans will appreciate that the song selection took a different approach here than the other version, rather than just porting over the same library of tunes.
The game does feature Game Sharing, and you can hook up with a friend in Versus Mode if you manage to find one who owns a copy of the game just as you do. I wish it had a little bit better overall use of English, as some of the menus get a little confusing to navigate around. However, you can get into most of the modes pretty easily, and the play picks right up with not really that much loading time.
Taiko no Tatsujin Portable takes a step away from the typical Taiko Drum Master formula, removing the peripheral and instead focusing on a play style that has a beat all its own. Music/rhythm fans who are already heavily into this sort of thing (DJ Max Portable?) will want to give it a go, for sure. The drum's waitin' to be pounded!
What's Hot: Fun gameplay; colorful (and sometimes hilarious) presentation.
What's Not: Some song selections are lacking; no drum peripheral.