Taiko Drum Master

posted in Games on Jun 24, 2006

I made the decision the other day to buy a little game that came straight from Japan: Taiko Drum Master. The game comes with a small drum that resembles a traditional Japanese Taiko drum, albeit only the head. Gameplay is simple: hit the head or hit the rim when the corresponding color flows byTaiko Drum Master. If you’ve played Donkey Konga then the onscreen set up is basically the same with insane Japanese characters instead of characters resembling anything on our side of EARTH.

There are 31 some odd songs ranging from some really not good pop stuff to some pretty sweet orchestral and game tracks. There are four difficulties: easy, normal, hard, and oni. Obviously, oni is the hardest, although it’s not THAT bad. Maybe it’s because a have a music degree in percussion, but I beat the game on oni within two days. That doesn’t mean that the game is easy, though. I have another friend (also percussionist) who sucks hardcore at it, so it may be a conflation of percussive and general gaming skills that have come into play here.

The coolest part of the game (the controller) is also unfortunately the biggest hindrance. You have to really find the “sweet spot” on the drum to make it register, and you have to hit it fairly hard to make it understand that you’re bashing the crap out of it. This has made for some aggrivating moments during solos when I apparently wasn’t hitting the drum hard enough. Now that I’ve had it for a while I’ve gotten used to it, but at first it was rather aggrivating. Another controller fault is that there’s a dead spot in the middle of the drum. For construction purposes (which I can only imagine were to make the thing cheaper), the drum has a big plastic bar down the middle of it underneath the head. This makes it so you have to hit the head either on the right half or the left half. While this isn’t such a huge problem on paper, when you’ve had over ten years of music training that tells you to play in the center of a drum (generally), then it makes for a little getting used to. For the average person it probably won’t pose too much of a problem, except those few times they’ll hit the middle and get mad.

Overall I’m not upset at my purchase, even though it only took me two days to finish it. I’ll definitely support crazy Japo games that are fun, and this definitely falls under that category. I give it four Super-Happy-Fun-Time rice balls out of five.

And if you were wondering about the sticks, they basically are big, plastic hotdogs.