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Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!

Platform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Inis

Release Date: 7/28/05

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan: Once you pop, you can’t stop!

"Ouendaaaaan!" That’s how it all starts with this delightful musical rhythm game from the mystical east I call Japan. To those not educated in the language of the mystical east, the title translates to: Fighting Male Cheerleading Team Ouendan! Yep, male cheerleaders, which by the way aren’t that rare in Japan; yet, what makes them unique is the type of guys they are.

Right off the bat you'll notice that these guys aren’t your typical, "Ra, Ra, go for the team", filled with school spirit, Japanese cheerleaders. They have eye-patches, scars, and mohawks. Yep, these guys seem they just jumped out of their Comartie High School manga and fallen into our DS's. They’re more like high school delinquents then school boys, but their determination and total focus is for real. Whether they are cheering you on while you’re studying for exams or helping a businessman save the world from a giant blue mouse that ravages the city with its eye-lasers; they are there to cheer you on with gusto!

Before I get ahead myself, you’re probably wondering: “What the heck!?”. Yeah, I’ve been there, but it doesn’t matter because I will explain to you why this game rocks and where it doesn’t rock so much. Ouendan is a music-rhythm game that takes advantage of all of the DS’s features. Like all good DS games, this game takes advantage of the unique design of the DS. You will be using that stylus you thought was nothing more than a Nintendog petting device, and tapping your way to victory. Oddly enough this type of game is the hardest to describe, but I will try my best. The top screen is used to tell the story of your unlikely trio of cheerleaders and their victims…um, I mean recipients of their magical cheering abilities. The better you are at the game, the better the recipient of the cheerleading does in their activities, whether it’s to study, slim down, or beat a giant blue mouse to death.

This is all done with a distinct manga feel, the best way to explain is comparing it to an interactive manga: you’ll see panels slide across the screen and characters jumping for joy or of agony. The bottom screen holds all the cheering action. On the screen you will see a 3D representation of your cheerleaders. Although the 3D used cannot compare to great animation and art style of the top screen, it does its best. You can say the 3D is akin to the likes of Rival Schools (if you were lucky to play that cult classic). This bottom screen is filled to the brim of flashing lights, colored circles, and cheering moves. Of course, all of this will lead to your demise (aren’t those developers sneaky). With all this going on you may have a hard time paying attention to the top screen, which does happen. It’s unfortunate because this game is definitely filled with style; what it may lack in pretty 3D graphics, it makes up with a distinct art style.

Now this is where all the fun begins and ends. The bottom screen shows numbered-colored circles which you must tap in order. The timing of the taps is based on a ring that surrounds the colored circle, which closes in. The better your timing, the closer you are to the moment the ring touches the colored circle. Since this is a rhythm game, the closer you are the better the score, when you see that red and orange "300 pts" pop on the screen, you know that you just scored the big one. The points range from: "Miss", 50, 100, and 300. Your goal is to get 300 pts every time, that way you feel like a cheerleading god. This may not seem too hard, but the game throws you many different variations, later stages will make you do quadruple taps on the same circle and follow a ball on a set path at varying speeds.

At the end you will be scored; with this game be ready not to see the score screen, because you will lose half way through the stage the first time you play. This is where the game gets you. Like all rhythm games this game in particular is tough. It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran rhythm game master, who has mastered Gitaroo-man on hard-mode, you will lose…..ALOT! Yet, this game has the marks of a Triple-A game. Although you may get flustered, annoyed, maybe a bit miffed about its difficulty, you will never feel enough anger to throw your DS. The reason for that has to do with the addictiveness of the game. You will be too busy tapping with the stylus to throw it. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, that is the mark of a good game. The game always leaves you wanting more, and more of the same mind you. No matter how many times you lose you’ll want to show the game whose boss and play it again and again. This is all thanks to its great gameplay, whose difficulty jumps 10-fold after each stage.

This of course leads me another great part of the game, its MUSIC. The DS shines on how well it plays full vocal songs, although audiophiles will belly-ache about how it doesn’t compare to the aural quality of Lumines for the PSP. These songs aren’t midis folks, or cheap J-pop done by amateurs, these are top charting songs from the Japanese music industry. You’ll hear from Asian Kung-fu Generation, Morning Musume, Hitomi Yaida, 175R, and even the great L’arc en-ciel. The last song is L’arc en-ciel’s come-back song: "READY STEADY GO", which was used in FullMetal Alchemist. Unfortunately, the music is a hit or miss for some. The reason for that has to do with range of song styles chosen to represent the large spectrum of Japanese music. Many fans of J-pop may or may not be indoctrinated to the world of J-Rock or J-Rap, which the game does include. The game’s gruff main characters explain the use of more rock or rap influenced music, which for this reviewer is a god-send. If you’re not of fan of Japanese music at all, then you probably wouldn’t be importing this game anyway or reading this review.

I have to admit this review seems to only talk about how great the game is, which is true. If I had to find fault in the game, it would have to be its length. At only 15 levels it seems short, but in reality it isn’t. Its difficulty will make you play those levels over and over again. The songs in the game will make you play the game over and over again. Heck, you’ll play the game again just so you can see an old man scratch LPs and rap his way to clay sculpting history. This game shows how a DS game should be made, and why creative and original games still have a place in our sequel-esque world.

*Import Friendliness*

I consider language to not be a problem because the game is pretty self-explanatory and this reviewer himself doesn’t have any knowledge of Japanese and was able to enjoy it.



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Published on: 2005-11-02 (7417 reads)

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