Although the series has made it over to American waters once during the PS2 era, it has since been absent and Taiko enthusiasts have had to resort to overpriced imports for their Japanese drumming thrills. With the yen all but kicking the American dollar’s ass, players have to wonder if it’s worth the game’s price and expensive shipping. The time to make a decision has come again with the latest installment in Japan, Taiko no Tatsujin Portable DX for the PSP.
The Taiko no Tatsujin series has always been known for its simple, yet engaging gameplay. After all, how tough can it be to keep up with the rhythm when there are only two types of hits? Instead of complicated combinations of buttons and chords like in Rock Band and Guitar Hero, Taiko focuses moreso on throwing the player an overwhelming amount of notes to hit. It’s almost equally frustrating. But music rhythm fans like that stuff. Portable DX doesn’t stray from this formula and gives fans more of the same.
Another trademark inclusion in the Taiko series is its inclusion of ani theme songs, general J-pop, and various gaming tracks. While it certainly includes enough to give a nod to almost fans of every genre, there isn’t enough to leave any player truly satisfied this time around. Sure, there’s “Lion” from Macross Frontier, but the rest of the anime songs are from One Piece, Naruto, or some other random anime. Likewise, it includes the electric fountain theme from Tekken 6, but little else from the same game genre and mostly defaults on songs from THE iDOLM@STER series. It only gives enough for some fans to find their go-to songs, but not enough for them to stay glued to their PSP screens.
There’s a new mode that allows players to slowly “conquer” parts of a map while playing songs against computer opponents. It’s really nothing to write home about. Although this offers nothing new, at least the primary mode that fans love and care most about stays intact. All in all, Taiko fans will still be happy with this game. Those who may not have tried the series before might want to consider another game in the series before jumping in to purchase a hefty priced import game. The selection itself isn’t the best that the series has to offer, so be wary before writing off the series as a whole. Try some of the other titles before this one. Taiko is a game series that no fan of both Japanese culture, gaming, and music should miss out on.