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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Song of the Week! 17 March 2012

Another double-pick week for the Idolm@ster month! Today we cover two of the more recently released songs for Taiko.

Taiko 13, Taiko Wii 2x4 (174)x5 (261) x6 (430)x8 (612)
im@s MS Bluex3 (174)x4 (261) x5 (430)x8 (612)
Taiko 13, Taiko Wii 2, im@s MS Blue
 helmas / imehel (im@s MS Blue only)

The saga's second generation of games starts with another portable chapter, The Idolm@ster: Dearly Stars, this time for Nintendo DS, the first and currently the only iteration of the series on a Nintendo console. Released seven months after the PSP trilogy, it revolves around three new idol newbies' progress for the 876 Production talent studio, which is on friendly terms with 765 Production, the old company with the idols fans have grown to love.

The gameplay approach of Dearly Stars is fairly different from the other games; this is the first Im@s game where the the player takes the role of an idol, rather than the role of a producer. The new Story Mode revolving around the three main characters is put into a novel genre of "Top Idol Adventure" by Namco, the first of the subseries The Idolm@ster 2nd Vision. (Namco sure loves creating new genre names)

HELLO!! is Dearly Stars' main theme, and the only tune from the DS videogame which was ported into Taiko. Composed once again by Satoru Kousaki and lyrics arranged by yura, its Oni notechart is also a rather generic 7* with no points of interest.

Taiko 0, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 4x4 (134)x5 (181) x6 (303)x8 (492)
im@s MS Bluex3 (134)x4 (181) x6 (303)x8 (492)
Taiko 0, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 4, im@s MS Blue
 smokyt / imssmo (im@s MS Blue only)

Namco's idol fans had to wait another four years to see the next console chapter of the series, simply named The Idolm@ster 2. The game takes place about half a year to a year after the idols first debuted, in a parallel future where the Producer (a.k.a. the player) has never joined 765 Production before. Takao Kuroi - 961 Pro's president and main antagonist - has trained a batch of male idols and founded the group "Jupiter", whose overwhelming success tries to eclipse the player's talent agency. Now the Producer has to raise 765 Pro's popularity with their brand new female idols.

The Idolm@ster 2 was released for XBox 360 on February 24th, 2011, and then ported to Playstation 3 on October 27th of the same year, sharing all the DLC contents of the XBox version, such as new songs and guest idols like Hatsune Miku and Kagamine Rin/Len. Though the basic gameplay hasn't changed a bit from the original arcade, now the game's Story mode allows the player to produce three idols simultaneously.

In the game, SMOKY THRILL is sung by the 765 Pro default unit trio 'Ryuuguu Komachi' (literally, "Beauty and the Dragon King's Palace"). Like the older Agent Yoru o Yoku from the 1st game and Overmaster from the 2nd, it's a secret agent/spy-like music, which is the other style frequently explored by most IdolM@ster songs other than the usual happy pop songs.

But for understanding why this song is so much notable for Taiko games, watch this video from the game. Indeed, this song was born as a tribute to the Taiko no Tatsujin series, and this aspect reflects the drumming game too! The custom dancer background of the next-gen Idolm@ster games (Taiko 0 / Taiko Wii 4 onwards) is the same one used in The Idolm@ster 2 for this song. Even SMOKY THRILL's composer is  a well-known name for Taiko fans: under the alias uRy is Yuri Misumi (see what they did there?), father of a large number of popular Taiko songs and renditions (like Saturday Taiko Fever, Lovely-X and Funiculi Funiculà).

SMOKY THRILL's Taiko journey starts on Taiko PSP DX as an exclusive pre-order song from the Japanese online store Ponta & Lawson, one of the collaborations involved for the Taiko 10th Anniversary big surprises. After being ported on the latest Wii and arcade games without any remarkable change of ratings, it became a regular pay-to-play song for PSP systems, giving it to all PSP players an opportunity to try this Idolm@ster song, and not just limiting it to early birds. Its notechart is tougher than the normal IdolM@ster style and features lots of clusters.

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