Osu! Takatae! Ouendan 2
For all the pleasure that Osu! Takatae! Ouendan provided, it also slipped in a ‘drop-the-DS-against-the-wall’ moment, namely where you couldn’t skip the pre-song comic strip story whenever you failed and wanted to try again. You’d have the sit there patiently as it went through the whole obscure Japanese storyline, waiting for the Ichi, Ni, San, Shi before you ****-up and have the start all over again.
Luckily, since the original game, Elite Beat Agents has managed to rectify everything to make the game a much smoother and more joyful experience. Indeed, everything that was in EBA has been replicated within OTO2, and additional features have made this true sequel even sweeter. Along with the new premise of two sides – an east and west team – assisting those in need and ultimately joining forces towards the end, the replay feature has been overhauled and now allows multiple replay saves of the same song (up to time save slots), there are a number of multiplayer/WiFi aspects including what looks like a four-player option (although I haven’t tried any of these as I can’t read Japanese), and there’s even a ghost-mode (similar to racing games, where you play against your saved replays).
And as you’d expect, there are some more wacky storylines and pop songs to tap-and-drag your stylus to. Whether they are actually popular and well-known songs will remain a mystery to me, but I do know that one song, ‘Pop Star’, is in the set list and I remember seeing this in the HMV shop in Japan a couple of weeks ago. Most likely, it’ll be a mix of classics and recent releases, much like EBA. But I have to say that the set list didn’t get me pumping as much as the western release or the original OTO. Good songs they may be, but I don’t think that it was their quality that made things slightly less impressive.
For as much as all the additional features added, I couldn’t feel as attached as the previous two games. And I think the main reason to this is because I had seen it all before, both in the Japanese and English variety; no longer was anything going to be new and exciting but, in fact, everything was to be expected. As soon as EBA was played with, it was obvious that all OTO games thereafter would have to have these features and set up as standard; any other way would just be a step backwards. so the only thing to look forward to in subsequent releases were the setlist (although this was not the original thought when I got OTO2, but it will be now, forever onwards).
However, that’s not to say that the 18-or-so songs weren’t enough to rejuvenate my love for OTO, nor would I, with my current game being Guitar Hero 2, over-indulge and overload myself with music-rhythm games. Absolutely not; for some reason, I still haven’t thrown anything against anything else out of the collective frustration of both these games. I just swear – quite freely and loudly – and fiercely and rapidly tap the screen (or whack the fret button) to get on with retrying the song. I’ve played through OTO2 two-and-a-half times at time of writing; that’s once each on the normal and hard mode, and over halfway through the insane ‘Cheerleader’ mode. I don’t know why, but I thought I’d properly try this latter challenge on this occasion and I’m glad I did. As off-puttingly hard as the first couple of songs are, you get used to it and the extra challenge was definitely fuelling my many attempts. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted and you really do require grit determination to see it through.
Honestly, it’s just more of the same, with the same already being great. Other than the unskippable cut-scenes in OTO, there wasn’t a thing to complain about. EBA was duly appraised for sorting out said issue. Now OTO2 has the perfect base upon which to add great songs and a few extra little features (although entirely unnecessary; they won’t be missed because the rest of the game is so distractingly good).
You don’t have to have necessarily liked or played OTO or EBA, or even like music-rhythm games in general, to find that Osu! Takatae! Ouendan 2 as a masterpiece; you just need to have a soul and an ounce of musical beat in your body, because everything else will fall into place instantly, subconsciously, and fantastically.