There are more than a handful of rhythm games in the market, but none of them are quite like Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session. Not only is it a rhythm game that revolves around a Taiko drum, it’s also the first Taiko game to be available on a PlayStation console in over 10 years.
However, while this is definitely a very fun rhythm game, it’s also quite a niche one. Hardcore fans of the series – and those who generally love rhythm games – will enjoy this latest Taiko game.
What Is It?
At its core, Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session is a rhythm game for the PlayStation 4 system. There are two ways to play it: either with a regular DualShock 4 controller, or a Taiko drum controller made by Hori. Obviously, the game will be easier to play with a DualShock 4 controller, but it’s much more fun to use the Taiko drum instead.
Is It Any Good?
This is through and through a Taiko game, and fans familiar with the series will be right at home. Not only are there more than 70 songs at launch, more songs will be added to the game as DLCs in the future.
While the songs in Drum Session are all in Japanese, there are some that are more recognisable than others. These include Let It Go from Frozen, Try Everything from Zootopia, and surprise surprise, even the viral song PPAP. On top of that, there are also some songs with “guest characters” like Doraemon, Hello Kitty, Hatsune Miku, and Pac-Man.
Each song has four difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme. Interestingly, certain songs have a hidden Extreme difficulty as well, which is much, much more difficult than the standard Extreme mode.
The first two difficulty levels are suitable for those who are new to Taiko games. Easy has very minimal notes to hit, while Normal provides a decent challenge. Things get much more challenging in Hard mode, and the difficulty is raised by quite a margin in Extreme. Basically, regardless of your skill level, there will be a difficulty level that’s suitable for you.
And then we have the Hori-made Taiko drum controller, which is surprisingly solid. I can hit it forcefully without worrying that I’ll actually break it, and while the drum sticks are made of plastic, they don’t feel cheap or fragile by any means. It’s really quite satisfying to hit the drum as hard as I want and not be worried about it.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
As all of the songs in Drum Session are in Japanese, asnd they may not appeal to everyone, especially to a global audience. That’s part of the reason why this is a niche game – unless you’re a fan of J-pop, anime, or even Vocaloid songs, you might not fancy this game’s tunes. There’s also no story mode to speak of, which limits the playability value of the game.
The Taiko drum controller itself isn’t perfect either. While I have no issues hitting the drum with enough pressure for it to register my inputs, one of my colleagues pointed out that the drum doesn’t feel very responsive – he wasn’t sure if he should be hitting the drums with more or less pressure. More likely than not, there is a learning curve to knowing how hard to hit the Drum controller.
Responsiveness aside, the small size of the Taiko drum controller proved to be troublesome at times too – I was actually hitting the lower buttons with the drum stick when I first started playing. If you’re used to the larger arcade version of Taiko no Tatsujin, you’ll need to get accustomed to the more compact dimensions of the drum controller.
Should I Buy It?
If you’re a fan of Taiko no Tatsujin games, you’ll definitely enjoy this game. The song selections are wide, it doesn’t feel too different from the arcade version – aside from the smaller drum – and the difficulty levels are varied enough for the game to be challenging to players of various skill levels. But if you’re not big on rhythm games or the Japanese songs Drum Session have to offer, this may not be the game for you.
There’s also the overall cost of the game: it can be bought on the PlayStation Store right now for RM209, but the Taiko drum itself is sold separately from anywhere between RM259 (it’s even out of stock right now) to RM359 for the bundle – the latter isn’t even expected to be in stock until January next year.
For what it’s worth, I definitely enjoyed playing this game. As niche as it is, playing a Taiko game from the comfort of my living room instead of the arcade is quite the experience.
Photography by Leon Lam.