We had the pleasure of attending a Bandai Namco event a few days before TGS took place last week. Though there were several games that we had been highly anticipating to try out, there was one game in particular that caught us by surprise. That game is a Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session. It was originally released for the Asian market on October 26, 2107. The game will be released in North America and Europe on November 2nd for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The game will receive a title change for its Switch release and be called Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun.
If I'm being honest with you, and I always am, I personally didn't know there was a console version of this franchise. I knew it was a hit in Japanese arcades (I can't think of a single arcade I've entered that did not have this in the rhythm section) but I hadn't followed its prosperity as a console title. I'm glad that's all changed.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! & Drum 'n' Fun! - Announcement Trailer | PS4, Switch:
As for as we know, both versions will include popular tracks such as "Limit Breaker X Survivor" from Dragon Ball Super and even classic songs such as Beethoven's "Turkish March". Other tracks that anime fans can look forward to as the first openings themes for Attack on Titan and One Piece. Most of the music was upbeat and exciting. Taking into account the different genres available in the base game and the DLC that is currently available for the Asian version we can confidently say that there will something that all rhythm game lovers can enjoy. Bandai may even release additional DLC more suited towards western audiences.
If you'd like to see the official song list available upon the game's release, you can find that here.
TaTaCon controller was sold with the game as a bundle in Asia and Bandai has confirmed that it will do so for the western release. However, at the time of writing this article, the publisher has released on additional details as far as pricing or bundle options. When using the TaTaCon you have a greater feeling of immersion because of the physicality and specificity it brings to the overall experience.
First of all, holding a drumstick in each hand and physically striking a small drum is going to be fun no matter how old you are! Secondly, you can now play the game the way it was intended. You can hit the outer rim of the drum to activate the blue notes and hit the inner part of the drum to activate the red ones. On top of that, there are specific notes that demand you strike the drum with both sticks at the same time. This type of immersion and skill development is not possible with a standard PS4 controller or a Nintendo Joy-con (the Joy-con does have more flexible options comparatively).
A Simple Drum Game
The game is pretty straightforward in terms of progression. You play a variety of tracks that are available to you from the get-go. You earn bronze, silver, or gold crowns depending on how well you perform. As you complete the songs in a skillful manner you will unlock additional tracks to play. This goes on until you've reached your heart's content or unlocked all the songs that Drum Session/Drum 'n' Fun has to offer.
As far as game modes, there are a variety of mini-games to choose from. You can play against your friends in a variety of rhythm-based challenges. At the pre-TGS event, we were only able to play the standard game mode. There is campaign mode or anything resembling a story. This is purely a rhythm game intended to be enjoyed by playing with friends or just jamming to your favorite anime, video game, pop, and classic songs.
We were pleasantly surprised by how fun and exciting the game could be on a console. We used a standard DualShock 4 controller and set X as the red drum and O as the blue drum. For us, this was the easiest way to tap the drums quickly. The limited song selection in the demo was still enough to keep us playing the game for longer than intended. We would have played more too except that our eyes were getting tired from the low refresh rate monitors they had at the event.
We highly recommend you play this game through your television "game mode" or (even better) play on a monitor with a high refresh rate. Once songs pick up in tempo and notes come flying at you it'll be extremely hard to keep track of the timing if all you're seeing are blurry drum beat indicators. Personally, it makes songs difficult to complete if you can't separate closely timed notes due to blurriness and your eyes becoming tired.
Taiko no Tatsujin is one of the few remaining well-made rhythm games and it deserves much more love. We heard a few months ago that Activision was going to close its servers for the Guitar Hero Live service on November 30th. Fans will lose hundreds of songs that were only available digitally through Activision. Harmonix is still holding on strong and releasing expansions for Rock Band 4. But the genre, as a whole, does not receive the attention it once had.
Hopefully, Taiko no Tatsujin making its second appearance in western markets can do a bit to revitalize rhythm game enjoyment and hype in the west. More and more gamers are falling in love with anime tracks, video game theme songs, and Hatsune Miku-esque songs. Personally, we can't wait for more gamers to get their hands on this game and enjoyment the game that Asia has been relishing since last year.