Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Even though the Taiko no Tatsujin franchise has been around for the better part of two decades, I’ve got to be honest: I wasn’t even aware of its existence until I started playing Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack. In my defense, it’s not as if there have been a tonne of Western releases in the series — 2018’s Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun was the first North American release in more than a decade (after 2004’s Taiko: Drum Master), so Rhythm Adventure Pack represents just the third game in this prolific series to reach our shores.
Given those subtitles, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that these are rhythm games. It probably also won’t surprise you that these games look and sound very much like you’d expect Japanese arcade rhythm games to look and sound. You play as pair of sentient, cute taiko drums, you battle all kinds of cutesy monsters, and your fights feature lots of flashing lights. Did I mention the series started in Japanese arcades?
That said, there’s a lot more depth in Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack than you’ll find in most rhythm games. Both games included here — imaginatively named Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure and Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure 2 — have pretty healthy RPG components. There are plots (however thin they may be, involving time travel and evil scientists), there’s exploration, and there’s shopping for goods. You even manage your party, Pokemon-style, by capturing monsters and then deploying them in your musical battles. There’s a lot more here than just a whole bunch of songs.
Unfortunately, Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack is still held back by a few flaws. First, even in easy mode, you encounter a lot of enemies as you’re exploring the map. Second — and very much related to the previous point — even though the game brags of featuring more than 130 songs, you end up hearing many of the same songs over and over again in your battlefield encounters. It doesn’t matter whether you have a healthy appetite for J-pop, you’re going to get sick of these songs pretty quickly.
I’ll also add that many of the fights are kind of unsatisfying. The battles end when you knock your opponents out — and, particularly early on, you can finish off opponents pretty quickly, which means the songs end just as they get going.
Even with those flaws, though, Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack offers a fun dip into a series that hasn’t had much exposure on this side of the Pacific. There’s more depth here than in most rhythm games, which means that it’s awfully easy to get sucked in — and provided you don’t mind hearing some of the same music over and over again, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Bandai Namco provided us with Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack Switch code for review purposes.
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