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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Namco Original Showcase: Mika Songs

This song series is in the Namco Original genre, and is named after the person who provides vocals for all the songs, Mika Sato (佐藤美香). Mika's voice has a distant, almost mechanical quality that is very distinct. You'll instantly know if a song in Namco Original is sung by her. She explores unusual themes for her songs. She started off her vocalist career in Taiko fairly early, and comes out with one song every two to three versions or so. It's not one of the most highly anticipated series in Taiko, but it's very recognizable when there is a new song. It is unknown whether this is the same Mika Sato who is a Japanese pianist (is looking into that now), but it looks to be highly unlikely.

Masubuchi Yuuji (増渕裕二) composes every song here for her to sing.

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-Mika series-




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Eringi No Ekubo (エリンギのエクボ) --- Old ---
Version
All
x6 (320) x7 (501)x9 (501)
Taiko 5, Medal 1, Taiko PS2 2, CD Red, CD 2008
147
none
 idol


Eringi No Ekubo (エリンギのエクボ) --- New ---
Version
All x5 (???)x6 (320) x7 (501)x8 (687)
Taiko Wii 5
147
Other -> Namco Original
 idol


The first in the series, and released together with Neko Kujira. Translation of the title gives 'Exporter of Mushrooms', which set the track for many of Mika's strange songs, but this translation is quite ambiguous as 'Ekubo' has multiple references and meanings. This was considered challenging for the time, when songs like Go Go Kicchin had 10* on Donderful difficulty (now Oni). The 7* Muzukashii has the exact same chart as the Donderful chart.

A new Oni chart was made very much later on Taiko Wii 5, bringing the first member of the Mika series up to speed with modern times, and converting it from the Others genre to Namco Original. Although it has more notes than the old Donderful chart, it still loses one difficulty star.

Neko Kujira (ねこくじら) --- Old ---
Version
All
x5 (275) x6 (411)x6 (411)
Taiko 5, Taiko PS2 3
140
none
 neko


 Neko Kujira (ねこくじら) --- New ---
Version
Allx4 (161)x6 (223) x7 (411)x8 (591)
Taiko Wii 3, 5, PS Vita, CD 2008
140
Other -> Namco Original
 neko


The song's title means 'Whale Cat' (odd title), and describes a lazy cat who wants to inflate and become as big as a whale, so he can float up and see the world. The only song in the series to use a swing beat, i.e 3 or 6 notes in a beat instead of four, it's an otherwise unremarkable 6* song with a history that proves to be more interesting than it should, with the composer aiming for something fresh that breaks out of the usual '4 notes per beat' mold (hence the 1/24 notes), and a song that doesn't just go from stanza A to B to chorus to bridge then to chorus again. The title was chosen completely out of thin air.

「なんかビジュアルが浮かんだ!夕日とデブ猫とくじら。これで行きます。」

'What sort of visuals float in front of me! The sunset and a fat cat and a whale. Alright, I'll go with this.'

Neko Kujira is given a new lease of life in Taiko Wii 3, shedding off the old notes and replacing them with new ones. The original loose 1/12 notes has been revamped and replaced with many tougher 1/24 notes, in order to assemble a march-like rhythm, which fits the song a whole lot more than the old one (the 1/24 streams involved into the song came from a new Classic song, Le Tombeau de Couperin) and increases its difficulty by two whole stars on Oni. The old Donderful chart remains on Muzukashii.

 Neko Kujira (ねこくじら)
Version
All


x9 (831)
 Taiko PS Vita
 140
 Other -> Namco Original
 ???


The series' first ever Ura notecharts comes in PS Vita1's final DLC pack, with a major boost on the 24th game. Compared with the new Oni's only occasional 24th triples that always start or end a stream of 12th, Ura Oni bravely put them within the streams and asks for high processing power of mixed signatures. Separation patterns resemble those of Oresama Pirates or Sanpo Ura, but much more highly mixed in color.

Scroll Mika (スクロール・ミカ)
Version
Taiko 6
x6 (414) x6 (618)x10 (765)
Taiko 7, Taiko PSP 1x4 (201)x6 (414) x6 (618)x10 (765)
Taiko 14x4 (201)x6 (414) x6 (618)x10 (765)
Taiko 11, Taiko Wii 4x4 (201)x4 (414) x7 (618)x8 (765)
Taiko Wii 5x4 (201)x5 (414) x7 (618)x7 (765)
Taiko PS2 4, Taiko 6, 7, 11, 14, Taiko PSP 1, Taiko Wii 4, 5, CD 2008
150
Pop -> Namco Original
 idol2


Scroll Mika is the most popular song of the whole series, and one of the hardest too, together with Diet Padarise. No other Mika song ever came close for the time. The song was introduced to the ancient Pop genre in Taiko 6, but promptly moved to Namco Original in every other version. How did the name come to be? The composer (Masubuchi) had the GBA music creation tools at the time and thought of a pixelized Mika in her own side-scrolling action game. Then...

「ミカの横スクロールアクションゲーム・・・ミカがスクロール・・・スクロール・ミカ!」

'Mika's side-scrolling action game...Mika scrolling....Scroll Mika!'

The song's music is styled after a GBA videogame, and the lyrics are about going on an adventure through a certain side-scrolling platformer (you'll know the reference once you see the lyrics). Taiko 7's version of Scroll Mika has an additional Go-Go time section, removed from the later versions. Inexplicably enough, this song was revived in Taiko 11, then removed, then revived again in Taiko 14. Even stranger is Scroll Mika, which had been downed to 8*, went back to being a 10* in Taiko 14, even though by today's standards it should not be anymore, resulting in a very easy to score song on that arcade version. As an 8* Oni, the song is filled with changes in beat structure along the way and some pretty troublesome handswitch clusters. It was reduced further to 7* on Wii 5 just to ram the point home.

The song is also quite long, clocking in at 2 minutes 45 seconds.

Diet Padarise (ダイエット・パダライス)
Version
Taiko PS2 5x5 (100)x5 (145) x7 (318)x9 (448)
Taiko 7, Taiko PSP 1, 2x5 (100)x5 (145) x7 (318)x10 (448)
Taiko Wii 5x5 (100)x5 (145) x7 (318)x8 (448)
Taiko 7, Taiko PS2 5, Taiko PSP 1, 2, Taiko Wii 5, CD 2008
195
none
 diet


Remember, it's Diet Padarise, not Diet Paradise. If not obvious enough, the song is all about dieting and exercise and the general difficulties faced while losing weight. The lyrics of the entire song is plain and simple, with Mika repeating the phrase 'diet' over and over again (denoting the stress of dieting). This was why, the composer revealed, that it took him only four hours from start to finish to complete the basic concept behind the song.

The name this time? Well, Diet Paradise was on the main agenda, but Masubuchi argued that it should be 'Diet Hell'. Since he doesn't agree on 'Paradise' and 'Hell' was definitely not a good word to use, the corrupted word 'Padarise' came to be. It is still quite a tough song to master because of the unusually high BPM, but Diet Padarise has fallen out of grace from the top difficulty tier.

In Taiko PS2 5, the dancers on the bottom for Diet Padarise are ALWAYS Donko.

Crane City (クレーンシティ)
Version
Taiko 8, PS2 6,
PSP DX
x5 (183)x6 (303) x7 (519)x9 (594)
Taiko Wii 5x5 (183)x7 (303) x8 (519)x9 (594)
Taiko 8, Taiko PS2 6, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 5, CD 2008
148
none
 neko2


Crane City has nothing to do with cranes (the industrial vehicle) or cranes (the species of bird), but the cranes used in Japanese festivals. Them crane games. The ones where you have to lower a hook to grab prizes and drop them into a hole so you can redeem them.

The interviews with Sato had stopped for two years after Diet Padarise, but continued with this one after it came out as a downloadable song for PSP DX, in which the inspiration for the song was said to be because of the UFO crane games, which look innocuous but are actually notoriously difficult to win. And the prizes inside are usually quite desirable (Don-chan plush, anyone?)

A tough 9* song that got less attention than it should, with 7-note clusters that force players to switch out of their dominant hands (two red, three blue, one red, one blue, for example) and general hard-to-follow rhythm. Even today it stands its ground in 9* Oni.

Wasure Na Gusa (わすれなぐさ)
Version
Taiko 11, DS2x4 (111)x6 (163) x6 (294)x9 (474)
Taiko Wii 5x4 (111)x6 (163) x7 (294)x9 (474)
Taiko 11, 11 Asia, Taiko DS 2, Taiko Wii 5, CD 2008
130
none
 stmic6


A slow, relaxing love song. The title means 'Forget-me-not', popular small, blue-colored flowers. The lyrics are complex and very difficult to translate for a non-native speaker, filled to the brim with kanji and abstract metaphors, and while they may seem to have no connection to the title, the lyrics describe several nostalgic scenes from the old days and the message being conveyed is not to forget how wonderful they were.

It's a very soothing melody and an easy 9* song to clear, because of the low speed and moderately difficult note patterns. The 1/24 clusters and sudden switch to 1/12 may present some trouble however.

Menkui Miracle (メンクイミラクル)
Version
All arcade,
Taiko Wii 1
x5 (117)x6 (177) x8 (407)x9 (511)
Taiko Wii 5x5 (117)x6 (177) x8 (407)x8 (511)
Taiko 12, 12 Asia, 12.5, Taiko Wii 1, 5
175
none
 stmic7


'Men' refers to noodles, 'Kui' refers to eating, and so the title translates to 'Miracle of eating noodles'. It's more obvious if you compare the Japanese title to its Asia 12 counterpart, which shows exactly that the song title was referring to eating noodles. Another stranger-than-most song title. The song however, sings of a breezy summer day and puts a few pieces of wordplay in to good effect.

Again, high BPM puts this on the higher end of the difficulty scale, with a balloon note that requires more hits than it should and is very hard to break. If it doesn't, the following note cluster will, and I mean will, disorient you.

Canadea (カナデア)
Version
Taiko PSP DXx5 (173)x7 (259) x8 (463)x9 (643)
Taiko 0, Wii 5x5 (173)x7 (259) x8 (463)x8 (643)
Taiko 0, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 5, CD Donderful
132
none
 stmic8


A long time passed between the release of Menkui Miracle on Taiko 12 and this one on Taiko PSP DX, which is Mika Sato's first new Taiko song in two years. Not much is known about the background of the song yet as there hasn't been an interview with Sato about this song on the official Taiko blog, but there is speculation that the title is the name of a company, Canadair Limited, a Canadian civil and military aircraft maker.

The song is quite a tough Oni song with a great variety of clusters, about as confusing as Wasure Na Gusa but is a much longer song overall. There are no drumrolls to alter the maximum score, and so to obtain more than 1.1 million points requires a full perfect, nothing less. Canadea's 9* rating didn't last for long though; the HD arcade took one star out right away.

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1 comment:

  1. There was an error on Neko Kujira's Ura notechart. It's 826 notes, not 591 notes!

    ReplyDelete