Title: Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session!
Developer: Bandai Namco
Release Date: November 2, 2018
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Bandai Namco
After avoiding a western release for quite some time, I finally had the pleasure of playing Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! which is now available worldwide on the PS4 courtesy of Bandai Namco. As some of you may know, the Taiko no Tatsujin series has had an extremely limited release outside of Japan, so to have this game make its way west is kinda awesome.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! Is a fairly straightforward rhythm game which like many other rhythm games centers around hitting symbols to the beat of various songs. Particularly in Drum Session!, you have red colored notes that represent hitting the center of the taiko drum, blue notes that represent hitting the side of the drum, and a couple symbols indicating you need to perform a drumroll(mashing all the buttons like the drum god you are).
While Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! has fairly simplistic controls, the game feels engaging to play and having those simplistic controls made it easier for me to immerse myself in the music while drumming along to the beat. There is also the option to increase the difficulty of the song which usually entails more notes to hit in quick succession as well as other options such as increasing the speed of the song up to 3x, having hidden notes, and swapping the red and blue notes around. While those options were personally too difficult for myself to play through a song with, I am sure other more skilled rhythm game enthusiasts would have a nice time with it all.
There are a couple other game modes to choose from apart from your typical single-player mode. You can play the game locally with two players each of you drumming along at the same time to a selected track. There is also an option to play against yourself which has you drum alongside the ghost of your previous run of the song to try and get a higher score. Lastly, there is a ranked tournament mode where you play against the ghost data of other players around the world to try and climb the ranking ladder.
Unsurprisingly, the game features mainly Japanese tracks, but there are quite a few songs on the tracklist that will be recognizable to the western audience such as the Japanese versions of “Let it go” from Disney’s Frozen, “Try Everything” from Zootopia, and that “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” song by Pikotaro. The game also features songs from popular anime titles such as One Piece, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Attack on Titan as well as songs from the likes for My Neighbor Totoro, Hello Kitty, and Vocaloid’s Hatsune Miku. Overall, I think there is something for everyone in this tracklist, and even when I didn’t recognize a song I still had an enjoyable time drumming along to it.
Another part of Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! that I really liked was its fun cutesy art style and one of the best parts of the game, in my opinion, was unlocking items to decorate your adorable taiko drum avatar. Each track in the game comes with a bingo card with each spot on the card being an objective you have to complete within the song to earn a stamp. For every three stamps, you unlock in a row on the bingo card, you earn a coin which can be used in the shop to buy mystery boxes containing random character cosmetics, player greetings, and titles.
Now while I really enjoyed my time with Drum Session!, there are a couple of minor things that took away from my experience with the game. Firstly, I didn’t really like calibration options in the game, particularly the auto calibrate option since it tells you to plug in the earphones that originally came with your PS4 when you bought it so that it can play sounds for the microphone to pick up and adjust the settings accordingly. I thought that the method of calibration was a bit inconvenient, but it definitely worked since afterward the game felt a lot better to play once I managed to find the headphones and completed the calibration. Additionally, playing the game on a PS4 controller, while adequate, didn’t feel as immersive as swinging a drumstick and didn’t provide enough tactile feedback to make hitting the notes feel satisfying. I think if the controller vibrated more upon hitting the notes I would’ve had a better time.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is a really fun game that I think anyone can enjoy. It has something for the casual player as well as those who are more competitive with their rhythm gaming. The music is catchy, the art style is fun, and the gameplay is addictive.
Regardless of its lack of a drum controller and the tediousness of its calibration settings, the game is one that I highly recommend people check out for some nice chill rhythm gaming goodness.
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