Taiko no Tatsujin is a series that has received a release on almost every console or handheld in Japan. It didn’t manage to get localized every time, but when it did, it was mostly an enjoyable experience. The major hurdle in enjoying Taiko no Tatsujin is the need to get a special accessory that allowed you to play the game as intended, with a drum kit. This is less of an issue with the Nintendo Switch version allowing you to use motion controls, so it works pretty much out of the box.
Taiko no Tatsujin is a popular Japanese series that lets you beat drums in tandem with the music represented by notes on the screen. It follows the same rhythm formula set by other games in this genre but the unique hook is its colorful artwork, pulsating gameplay and exciting multiplayer. All of these elements come together setting Taiko no Tatsujin apart, making it feel like the perfect game especially for a party or with a get together among friends. The multiplayer support is amazing with a variety of playable options, and the single player content is fun to complete with its multiple difficulty modes.
Since there was no drum kit available for this review, I had to play most of the game with the motion controls and while you might look foolish trying to beat some imaginary drums in the air, it is actually pretty exciting. Motion controls execution is neat with the ability to hold each Joy-Con controller in hand. You can swing the controllers to execute a regular drumbeat called DON or swing diagonally to execute KA. Swinging both controllers at the same time is also needed for a different variation of DON. It is not just about getting the timing right but also learning to execute the best move.
Motion controls are always tricky to carry out and with a game that depends upon fast and precise moves, they should work perfectly to get the best experience possible. Fortunately, a pretty useful in-game calibration tool lets you tweak out all moves if you are not able to time them correctly. The HD rumble is also worth mentioning here because it lets you feel the beat of the drums in your hands. The immersive experience that could be offered by a standard drum kit is always superior to motion controls, but they certainly don’t feel like a bad alternative here.
Each track that you can attempt offers at least four different difficulty options. You are not repeating them just to unlock more avatars, but there is actually a nice variety of songs available to try to test out your skills. As a game designed around the Japanese audience in mind, the tracks are pretty much as expected. You can find them sorted by categories like anime or J-pop, while there are some Nintendo Switch exclusive tunes available as well. You start each song by first picking up an avatar. They are mostly locked in the beginning until you complete some of the tracks available, but the issue is that you have no clear idea of their unlock requirements.
These avatars offer their own unique advantage with skills. The traditional drum beaters are not that useful since they lack proper skills but you can pick either Kirby or the Inkling from Splatoon 2 as a starting point. Their skills are quite useful in achieving a high score as you try building a combo chain going on with perfect hits. The better you score, the easier it is to try the higher difficulty settings. It will take some practice before you can master each song, but once you do, it is an exhilarating experience as you attempt to improve your own score.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun is pretty simple to pick up, and easy to understand. The difficulty curve is not that long and it depends more on how comfortably you can grasp the music cues. The timing is tricky to follow at first but once you properly calibrate and learn when a motion registers, the game completely transforms into a fun experience. Time your moves with the iconic drums on the screen to see the background reacting to it with colorful transformations and flashing signs. The better you perform, the more the characters will start to feel alive and it all climaxes into an exciting finale once the song ends.
Of course, this game wouldn’t be complete on Nintendo Switch without a multiplayer mode. Even if the single player experience is fun, the multiplayer gives its own unique take on the drum beating formula by molding it into a minigame competition. You can play the multiplayer together in a party of four different players. Local wireless support is available with up to four different Nintendo Switch. It is more of an Arcade-type experience than a full-fledged multiplayer mode, but you can still get some solid enjoyment out of it.
This is not the best Taiko game since there are arguably better ones out there, but it is a solid effort in term of the motion control performance, and support for local multiplayer on the Nintendo Switch. Fans can also enjoy the Switch exclusive avatars and music that is a part of this package, but ultimately, the soundtrack matters more here and it is solid but nothing outstanding. The lack of gameplay modes is somehow offset by the multiplayer, but it would be great if more variety is present in future entries for the series.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun! is a rhythm game developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It was first released in Japan and other parts of Asia in July 2018, in North America, Europe and Australia in November 2018.
Final Score - 8/10
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable rhythm games available on the Nintendo Switch. It additionally presents a unique multiplayer mixed in with all the exciting rhythmic action offering a substantial amount of replay value. The lack of gameplay modes is a fundamental flaw that hurts its lasting appeal.