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icon Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (+3)  
Note: all the games in this series except for Elite Beat Agents are entirely in Japanese. However the tutorials are straightforward enough and the gameplay are simple enough that you shouldn't have any trouble figuring out what to do and the stories are simple enough that it's easy to figure out what's going on. Furthermore, there are excellent translation guides for all of the game's text should you like to make things a little clearer.

I don't like to post reviews so closely together, but something has happened. I have just beat Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan as Kai Domeki. The manual for Ouendan 2 apparently states that Kai once danced so hard that his shoes exploded in an epic rain of fire, trust me, this is not an easy task. I have had to hone my interpretive dance powers to their maximum state of polish, form and excessiveness. I have been tapping buttons, spinning wheels and sliding metallic balls arbitrarily across a screen in order to avert crises for days, and now I emerge victorious. I now realize that there ARE characters worth cosplaying as, and they are male cheerleaders, and cosplay has always creeped me out (by the way, according to Safari "creeped" is not a word, so if I just made one up, please consider it a Joycean statement).

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was the royal jewel of the Nintendo DS launch in Japan. It was the first DS game ever announced and is one of the most popular imports of all time. It has spawned a sequel and a western spin-off, and is the most epic thing ever. It was created by the same team that made Gitaroo Man, which is also amazing. Ouendan is also the most purely fun video game I have ever played.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan translated roughly to "Hey! Fight! Cheer Squad". I don't know if male cheerleading is common in Japan, but I do know that is awesome. I have just beat the first level on insane mode and also know that female cheerleading is also awesome in Japan.

The premise is simple. No matter where you are, no matter what time period you are in or how serious your problem, just shout "Ouendan" at the top of your lungs, and a group of three cheerleaders will appear and dance arbitrarily, which usually seems to help. That's really all the story there is. In the final level of each game all of the characters that the player helped band together to save the world, in Elite Beat Agents the Ouendan is replaced by government agents and in the second there is a subplot about the Ouendan's rivalry with a frequently playable British Ouendan known as The Encouraging Nobility, but even that boils down to a number of unrelated vignettes that only come together during the ending.

What carries the series is the gameplay. Instead of inputting commands that correspond to dance moves like in most dancing games, you instead are tasked with popping bubbles and manipulating sliders as they appear in tune to the music. To get you started rings around the bubbles shrink, telling you how close you are to hitting them, but in order to consistently score well you're going to need to listen. You can't do so haphazardly either, your health drains automatically, and depending on the song this can happen very quickly. In most cases getting 50s, 100s or, in later stages even the perfect 300s aren't going to push the bar back up, you'll need to complete beats (the string of bubbles and sliders that are the same color) perfectly to do that. To motivate you to play well even further, the cutscenes that pop up between each section of the song change depending on which half of the bar you're on. Even the ending changes if you get all bad scenes in the second.

Don't take this as meaning that only rhythm Gods can play Ouendan, there are Easy and Normal modes too, both of which are comparatively simple and great for polishing your skills, you're just going to need to be persistent until you are good enough to complete the level. It's worth it start on easy too, as the slow timing gets much harder to handle after you've gotten used to the harder modes, and your high scores for each level determine your ranking, which isn't only a great reward for doing well, but unlocks pictures and even extra stages (note: there are no bonus stages in the original).

The game repeats its three elements (popping bubbles, rolling balls along sliders and spinning wheels) in increasingly complex combinations, and due to this songs become more and more interesting as you progress through the difficulty levels. This is one of the few games where the game gets more and more rewarding the more you play it and the harder you make things on yourself, games like Ninja Gaiden Black, Devil May Cry 3 and Guilty Gear. No game in the series has more than 20 levels, but I've gotten more playtime out of those three carts than any other games on the DS.

The plotlines, which possess such an animated energy that it's easy to tell what's going on even if you know no Japanese whatsoever (a group I am proud to be a part of), are usually odd and creative. Some of my favorite levels include cheering on a businessman as he grows to a gargantuan size to protect his daughter from a Godzilla-sized rat, helping a retired baseball star as he fights a golem using his baseball skills, giving a shoesmith the confidence to sell shoes on mars and helping a man have a date with the girl in his dreams but must hide his tendency to turn into a werewolf whenever he sees something round. They add a bit an inane tone to the proceedings.

The best part about the series, however, is the music. Okay, I could do without Sk8er Boi, but we have Anthem, Jumping Jack Flash, Ready Steady Go, Go My Way, Countdown, Highway Star and the thoroughly bizarre Monkey Magic. Most of these songs are catchy and they all translate well to the gameplay.

There's really not much I can say about Ouendan. It's incredibly simple, very addictive and a ton of fun. You won't find the two Japanese games in stores, but Amazon has the second for $30 used (over $80 new, though) and PlayAsia has the first for a little less than $50. You can get Elite Beat Agents anywhere, but for the sake of thoroughness you can get it for a little over $18 on Amazon.

Note: the Nintendo DS is NOT region coded. This means that, unlike most systems, you can play any DS game on any DS. Just stick it in and start playing. Also, since if you pick the games up they will very likely be used, you can clear the data by holding A, B, X, Y, L and R as you start the game.

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08-13-2009 at 01:00 AM
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icon Re: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (+1)  
Snacko wrote:
There's really not much I can say about Ouendan. It's incredibly simple, very addictive and a ton of fun.
True words.

There's actually a free PC version of this game called Osu! that's become my rhytm game of choice over the last 9 months. Thousands of songs, infinite skill ceiling, what's not to love.

Most of the very experienced players use a drawing tablet for more precise control, but a mouse is well enough to play even the hardest songs (optionally a keyboard for rhytm so you can focus on movement with one hand)

Warning: If you can't stand vocaloid/anime songs, then song selection becomes much more limited. Japanese influence and userbase are pretty significant.
06-20-2013 at 12:23 PM
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icon Re: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (0)  
I still play a lot of osu, although I took a bit of a break recently.

I play with tablet but honestly mouse is also fine. But if you play enough osu and want to try a tablet, the cheap tablets don't cost much more than like $20-$30.

I use a XP-Pen Star G430 and while I've thought about buying a nicer tablet I don't think it would actually make me any better at osu. when I bought my tablet I went just with the XP-Pen G430 because of the passive (no battery) pen.

06-10-2019 at 11:34 AM
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