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Monday, May 13, 2013

Feature: Know your Taiko Simulators

Taiko no Tatsujin is a great rhythm game, great enough to have lasted eleven years (and counting!) with no signs of slowing down. However, not everyone has access to all the console versions and in most cases, unable to access the arcades. That's where the Taiko sims come in! They're fanmade pieces of software that allow for the emulation of Taiko no Tatsujin on a computer or other convenient platforms, so players will be able to play their favorite charts even if they can't play on the real thing.

None of them offer perfect replication of authentic Taiko no Tatsujin in terms of interface, accuracy window or 'feel', but they make up for it by full customization; the ability to have charts for whatever song of your choosing (a dream come true for many Taiko players), imaginative mechanics and gameplay features exclusive to simulators. You can also plug and play on a controller of your choice or even a Tatacon provided you have the hardware necessary to sync them to the computer. They have low demand for computer memory and don't need a high-end processor or graphics cards to run. The best part? They're free of charge!

There are several simulators out on the Internet, and I've been meaning to categorize them into one post for some time but could not find enough information for them. Then I found this blog post and imagine how ecstatic I was to finally be able to compile a post of Taiko simulators together! Let's have a look at them.

Taiko Sanjirou (太鼓さん次郎)

Usually abbreviated to 'Taikojiro', this is by far the most versatile, easy-to-use and popular Taiko simulator. Videos of songs played on Taikojiro are everywhere, and chart files are distributed very easily. It has high compatibility and works across literally any operating system (there's even a version for PSP) and easily skinnable, from the menus to the graphics, so there are many, many people with different versions of Taikojirou with different skins and different menu layouts.

The method to make charts and time them is a bit cumbersome, like most other simulators, in that the chart file is stored as a Notepad text file and edited from there, so there is no user interface and techniques for charting is passed by word of mouth or with the guidance of someone who's done it before. In addition, timing and offset for songs are determined mostly by trial and error. The good part about having a Notepad text file to edit charts is that they're easily readable and understandable, and allows for flexibility beyond belief. You can do things like freeze notes midway, make charts crazy dense, or even make notes scroll backwards (from the left towards the target, for a surprise)!

The only real drawback for Taikojiro is inability to support the .mp3 standard for music files without encoding software, and all music you have must be converted to .ogg format, which lengthens the process a little and leaves you with a duplicate music file of a different format.

Taiko Sanjirou 2 (太鼓さん次郎2)

A fresh new look for the Internet's most beloved Taiko sim! Taikojiro 2 updates the interface to that of the HD Taiko (though it's still possible to skin the old Taikojiro to look like this). A few technical graphical updates are in this one, making things look more fluid and ability to support more objects on the screen at one time. Animation and scrolling of graphics are still limited, though Taikojirou 2 is still a work-in-progress so we could see something being done later. The increased performance of Taikojirou 2 requires DirectX to be installed on your computer before being able to use it. The charting method also uses Notepad and is directly compatible with regular Taikojiro.

It still doesn't support mp3s though, but rumors are that it's being tested and implemented for Taikojiro 2.


This is a far more high tech Taiko simulator, though it sure didn't start out that way. It was originally just 'osu!', a simulator for Inis' touchscreen rhythm game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for the Nintendo DS with the same freedom of customization and even online rankings. It's a simple program developed by peppy from Australia, and has gained a huge following. Huge enough, in fact, to attract a few Taiko fans who developed a Taiko skin for it (LuigiHann) and made the first Taiko songs for it (Kharl, Aquabluu). Soon it grew to encompass more fans and eventually a separate mode for Taiko was made, handily converting the Ouendan charts to Taiko notes and also supporting charts made specifically for the Taiko mode. osu! eventually grew into being a multiple rhythm game simulator with Ouendan remaining the pivot of the entire program, but that's beside the point.

It is the only simulator to have a full-blown graphical user interface for setting down notes and determining BPM and offset of music, making it very, very convenient to make basic Taiko charts. Emphasis on 'basic'; like I mentioned, Ouendan remains the pivot of osu!, and hence osu!Taiko also least resembles Taiko no Tatsujin in terms of gameplay; there are no balloon notes (only Denden notes), drumrolls are limited to one hit per 1/16 beat, the scrollbar is shorter than actual Taiko, it doesn't support forked paths, and obviously, it doesn't have all the delightful things from Taikojiro like backwards-scrolling notes.

Still, the user interface makes it a great starting point to make and time charts before converting them for use in other simulators. And, it supports mp3!

Taiko no Owatatsujin (太鼓のオワタツジン)

Taiko Sanjirou's older, unkempt elder brother who emphasizes functionality over form. One look at the user interface is enough for most people to say 'Okay I'm going to some other sim'. It is however one of the pioneers in simulation of Taiko no Tatsujin, and it still holds some significance with quite a following.

Unlike the others, Owatatsujin is Flash-based, so all the chart files are embedded .swf files and not easily distributed. If you're trying to look for authentic charts, editors or special features you might want to look elsewhere, as most charts made on Owatatsujin are custom charts. Downloads of charts are also limited and most of them are hosted on websites like this one. The advantage of this standard chart system is that webmasters have control over what followers play (unlike Taikojiro where you can customize scoring, balloon strictness and even the accuracy window before you begin playing) so a standard playing field is set for all players. Extending the idea, leaderboards and communities can be set up using Owatatsujin, which isn't something most simulators can do without setting ground rules (like the hit window accuracy in Taikojiro, which can be easily manipulated to be absurdly lenient).

Taiko San-Nantoka (太鼓さんなんとか)

Another spinoff of Taikojiro, which plays almost identical to it as well (tja files are compatible), but just one thing.....play the video. Yes, play the video. Is that authentic graphics or what? Scrolling of the top half of the screen, almost perfect replica of Taiko no Tatsujin Wii interface, animation and voices in the result screen...graphic-wise Taiko San-Nantoka is the most accurate simulator of Taiko no Tatsujin, missing only the font used (standard system font is used to maintain compatibility; not everyone has the Taiko font!)

It supports .wav and .ogg music files (no mp3 either) and requires DirectX 9.0 and above to run. An intermediate performance video card (512MB or higher) is recommended.

Futoi Taiko no Tatsujin (太い鼓の達人)

The final simulator we're covering for today is also the most intentionally crazy one of the lot. We've actually seen a video of this one in action before. On the surface it looks exactly like Taikojiro or other similar software, but the main gimmick is being able to switch gameplay modes in the middle of the song into something Namco would never, ever do; notes suddenly start quaking outside of the scrollbar, turn from blue to red and back again while on the scrollbar, move in altogether different speeds, the whole screen mirrors itself, and of course, the infamous Galaxy Mode, where notes spin maniacally from the outside towards the center in a galaxy-like formation! You really have to see it to believe it!

There's more crazy stuff that is done in this simulator. It's up to you to find out more about it!

And that concludes our feature on Taiko simulators. Ever played on one before? It's a cost-effective way to play songs you won't get a chance to play! Even though none of them perfectly replicates that amazing feeling you get when playing in the arcade, but hey, it's not all that bad!


  1. What happened to Taiko San-Nantoka as of 2013?

    1. Last I heard, the distribution and updating for it has ended, but the latest build is still floating around somewhere.

  2. Where can I download Taikojiro? The only site I could find it on removed it.

    1. http://zmy10.blog110.fc2.com/blog-entry-3863.html

      Latest build, version 2.91. You'll have to find songs yourself though.
      mp3 support is only possible on Jiro with LAME encoding

    2. Thanks! but where can I find songs with the right file format?

    3. You'll have to Google em. Taikojiro chart files are usually in .tja format, and JP players tend to upload them to Youtube and other hosting sites so hunting each song down is an adventure in itself lol

  3. Hawaiian Surf Simulators : Simulation is materialization of the virtual world. Simulation basically refers to the imitation or a representation of a potential series of events or environment. This concept is fast emerging as an insight into the future with its varied range of applications. Using an artificially created scenario, the real life effects of certain conditions and events can be conceptualized, visualized and given form.

  4. I use the osu! Taiko version alot because it has so much freedom in songs and I love that I have the chance to map my own songs and put them online! Really fun!

  5. Please, I'm dying here, can anyone put a link to downloadTaiko San-Nantoka? I've been trying to find one all day with no success @_@'

  6. anyone knows where to download Taiko San-Nantoka

  7. If anyone reads this in the future and wants me to upload a build of taiko san nantoka, reply to this comment and i will do so.

    1. i want you to upload a build :3

    2. honestly, i didnt upload a build, because i thought this site was dead. Nowadays, the builds are only available on the japanese websites, which most people obviously cant read.

    3. http://ux.getuploader.com/siva0204ryoya/download/14/Taiko_san_nantoka_test6.zip

      *Scroll down on the site and click the button that says "ダウンロド”
      *Have fun!

    4. rockinc2014, Thank you!!!!! Sorry for the almost year late reply...

      The application doesn't seem to open, however...and I tried following "run as date" procedure, but to no avail..

  8. Do any of these simulator support the use of a drum controller like tatacon?

  9. Another emulator worth nothing would be TJAPlayer2; The entire interface and and playstyle very closely mimics the actual arcade version, including HD graphics and various playstyle mods.

  10. add TJAPlayer3 it is like the arcade version with better graphics basically what taiko sanjiro2 should have been.