Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

The cheer squad comes to save the day.


The Lowdown

Pros: A wacky sense of humor and some catchy tunes sells Ouendan to the masses.

Cons: The strong influence of Japanese culture and level of difficulty doesn't.

Purchase at Play-Asia

Purchase at Lik-Sang

What do you do when you don't have the energy for a late night cram session or need to finish the big race to impress your girl? Inis, the makers of the cult hit Gitaroo Man, would tell you to shout "OUENDAN!" as loud as you can. Osu! Tatake! Ouendan is all about providing those in need with that extra moral boost, with your own dancing cheer squad. As soon as they hear the call of Ouendan, the famous three set out to motivate to a person's limit. As the player it's your job to keep the Ouendan squad on beat so they can cheer their very best.

The concept sounds crazy right, but the gameplay is easy to pick up. On the touch screen numbers appear with a colored circle closing in on the number. You want to poke the number with the stylus, but time it so the two circles are on top of each other. If you get this perfectly on beat you'll score 300 points and raise the spirit of your client. Being slightly off beat gets you 100 points with a smaller boost and you'll get 50 points if you're barely on beat. Besides number tapping you'll also have to trace a ball between numbers and spin a wheel to keep the cheer squad going. Miss a step, the Ouendan stumble and the person you're helping will lose hope. One thing different about Ouendan compared to other music/rhythm games is your health bar is constantly decreasing. Tapping correctly or drawing circles merely stops the bar from dropping so quickly. One miss not only drains the bar further, but you'll lose more of the spirit meter just from its normal drop rate. Because of this Ouendan is really unforgiving. Prepare to be at your wits end, nearly ripping your hair out as you fail a song just for missing two steps in a row. That'll happen during the first set of stages. The final series of stories are so tough, that most casual gamers will flat out give up and consider the game done with.

While you're scrambling to poke everything on the bottom screen, the top screen shows how the story is progressing. It's really the stories that keeps Ouendan entertaining. One of the earlier stories has a secretary trying to impress her boss so she can catch a date with him. The other assistants mock the lass as she trips when trying to serve tea or falls asleep at the job. That's where you and the Ouendan come in. Move to the beat and she'll finish her reports on time and go dancing with the boss at the end of the stage. This stage, like the other fifteen stories, are told in parts. Each part has a check point associated with it, if you're in the yellow part of the health meter you'll pass the checkpoint with a happy result. If you're in the dangerously close to failing red part, you'll fail that part of the story. If you live on the wild side it is possible to fail all of the check points and still pass the song. Since most players probably won't pass all of the check points on their first run there's some incentive to try the song again.

Out of the fifteen songs a US audience will recognize one of them. Ready Steady Go, better known as that song from the Full Metal Alchemist opening, makes an appearance. Following it are a bunch of other j-rock titles like One Night Carnival, Loop & Loop and Over the Distance. The song list is defiantly not to everyone's taste and with only one genre of music it could be a problem. Nintendo has gone an extra mile to bring out the aural quality of the songs. Instead of having instrumental mixes, you've got a voice track too. We're not at CD quality audio with Ouendan, it's more like a downsampled MP3. While it is not as crisp as Lumines on the PSP, but Ouendan's technical quality is unmatched on the DS.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan is a great DS title if you're into music games like Frequency or Parappa the Rappa. The music might not be for everyone and there's a level of difficulty rarely seen in the rhythm genre. Yet Ouendan is a must play game for its simplicity and comical stories. Just try out the cheerleader battle and you'll be hooked.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2

By watching the game's tutorial you can easily figure out how to play the game. Even the story and most of the humor is fairly accessible. The story is told in manga style panels, so you'll have a good idea of what's going on. However, if you want to get every joke you will need a working knowledge of kana and kanji.

US Bound?

Even if this game did come to the US (which seems highly unlikely) it'll be completely reworked for an American audience.

Overall

Ouendan has a lot that's "fresh" compared to other DS titles, a unique concept and it's hilarious. Gameplay shines too, it's challenging and addictive.