Taiko Drum Master

It must be the year of the drum, as first we had Donkey Konga for the GameCube, and now there’s Taiko Drum Master for the PlayStation 2. In this game, you use a miniature version of the Japanese Taiko drum as a controller to pound out all kinds of groovy beats. It’s a simple premise, yet it ends up being a lot of fun, mostly due to the cutesy cartoon nature of the game.

As I’ve said, the core of the game is pounding the Taiko drum to the beat. Drum beats of various types zip across the screen, and you need to match those beats by hitting the drum at the right time and the right location. You can’t just pound anywhere on the drum, as beats require you to hit specific spots of the drum. There’s even a combo for producing a drum roll, which isn’t terribly tricky, but it is fun. When the basic “keep the beat” gameplay gets old, there are a couple of mini-games you can play to switch it up a bit. The mini-games are cute and fun, but probably won’t keep you playing for too long. This game is all about banging drums to the beat. And to that point, Namco’s included 30 tunes -
Licensed Rock/Pop:
ABC; American Girls; Are You Gonna Be My Girl; Bowling for Soup – Jimmy Neutron Theme; Girls & Boys; I’m A Believer; Killer Queen; Lady Marmalade; Love Shack; Material Girl; My Sharona; Rock the Dragon (Dragonball Z Theme); Slide; That’s The Way (I Like It); The Impression That I Get; Toxic; Tubthumping; Walking On Sunshine
Classical:
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Carmen Prelude; Foster’s Medley; Hungarian Dances No. 5; Symphony No. 25 in G Minor; William Tell Overture
Namco Original:
Don Rangers; Dragon Spirit; Katamari on the Rocks; Ridge Racer; Soul Calibur II Brave Sword, Braver Soul; Taiko March; The Genji and the Heike Clans

Graphically, the game is an eye-blasting frenzy of bright colors and cartoon characters. While it’s nothing that pushes the limits of the PlayStaiton 2, it’s fitting for this type of game. And of course the audio is good, it has to be for a musical game!
Taiko Drum Master is one of those games that’s good, but it suffers from being too niche to ensure it broad acceptance from gamers. Couple that with the fact that the Taiko Drum is yet another specialized controller that’ll probably never see use again, and you’ll find it hard to convince yourself to buy this. It may not be a purchase, but it is certainly something I’d suggest renting if you can find a shop with the controller (and the game!).

Gameplay: 6.8
Simple, yet addicting drumbeat gameplay.
Graphics: 6.5
Bright, cheery and kind of silly, the graphics get the job done.
Sound: 8
Plenty of cool tunes to keep you banging the Taiko into the night.
Replay: 6.8
Addicting gameplay and extra mini-games keep you coming back.
Overall: 7
It may seem overly simplistic, but Taiko is a lot of fun. Sadly, it’s going to be relegated to niche status due to the drum requirement.

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