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Introduction

Hello, and welcome to Taiko Time, where anytime is Taiko no Tatsujin time!


If you're new to the series and wondering what the fuss is all about, let us give you the lowdown. Taiko no Tatsujin is a series of rhythm games made by Namco (later Bandai Namco Games Inc., NBGI after the two companies merged on March of 2006). The game was originally designed as an arcade game for two players, with two giant Taiko drums serving as input, and began with its first iteration on February 2001. As popularity and demand for the game began to grow, the arcade Taiko no Tatsujin's library of songs began to expand (by means of newer versions) and encroached into home consoles, and currently has games on PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and even mobile phones and smartphones.

The main aim of Taiko no Tatsujin involves hitting red and blue notes that scroll horizontally across the screen, which represent the two sounds that the traditional Japanese instrument is able to make when it is hit in the center and the rim, with the aim of filling up a clear meter called a Tamashii gauge (魂ゲージ, spirit gauge). When this gauge exceeds a certain quota, the player has passed. Unlike many other rhythm games which stop the player halfway if he fails, Taiko no Tatsujin allows the player to play the entire length of its songs even though the player would otherwise be unable to clear it. The challenge for skilled players is to be able to get a perfect combo for each song they pass (i.e. didn't miss a single note), or to aim for the highest score possible, like in any other rhythm game.

Taiko no Tatsujin quickly gained popularity mainly due to the cute graphics, deep level of challenge and great fan service, not to mention a wide variety of songs to cater to everyone's taste, whether you're into J-Pop, or anime opening songs, or classical/public domain songs, or even clips from game soundtracks. Outside of the casual gamer, it has a large and loyal fanbase mainly due to its library of original songs composed exclusively for Taiko no Tatsujin.

The main character is an anthropomorphic drum, named Wada-don (和田どん), shown above, or Don-chan as most people call him, and he's the mascot of the series, charming people with his adorable face and ending every sentence he speaks with the suffix '-ta-don~' (the sound of a drum). As the series progressed, many other characters were introduced to Don-chan's inner circle, most notably his brother, Wada-katsu (和田かつ) who looks alike to Don except with reversed colors. To add to the charm, Don-chan can sport different outfits and costumes, and you can change the color of his face and body in the DS iterations.

Both Don and Katsu are currently being voiced by Narahashi Miki (楢橋 美紀), and the art direction of all of the characters in Taiko no Tatsujin, as well as other Bandai Namco games with the same cutesy art style (like Mizuiro Blood), is handled by Yukiko Yokoo (横尾有希子), the lead member of a trio of designers who have a website called 'Bukkoro'.



Video recorded in 2004. A typical run by a skilled player. Song is 自由 女子十二楽坊, played on Taiko no Tatsujin 6 arcade.

There are three difficulty levels, Kantan (Easy), Futsuu (Normal) and Muzukashii (Hard). A fourth difficulty, Donderful (which would later be known as Oni difficulty, the hardest setting in Taiko to date) was added in the second arcade installment.

The arcade machines are spread all over the world, though still rarely seen outside of Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia. Importers usually play on the console version when the arcade's not around.