While the basic rhythm gameplay of Taiko no Tatsujin remains the same in every game, the series does have few unique features tailored to the platform and the perceived audience playing on the platform. Just how does one begin to choose between console versions? Here’s a brief rundown.
1. The Songs
The songlist is most likely the biggest factor in deciding which Taiko no Tatsujin game to pick up. Songs are divided into genres, being ‘Pop’, ‘Anime’, ‘Vocaloid’, ‘Variety’, ‘Classical’, ‘Game Music’, and ‘Namco Original’. Usually, the console releases tend to favor particular genres over the others, based on the target audience for the platform. For example, V Version on PlayStation Vita focused on ‘Anime’, ‘Vocaloid’, and ‘Game Music’, matching the general target audience of PlayStation Vita games in Japan.
For the Japanese version of Drum Session!, there was a huge focus on ‘Pop’, ‘Game Music’, and ‘Namco Original’ songs. The songs were more teenager-to-adult oriented, and even the game music songs were more for core gamers, such as with “Heat Haze Shadow 2” from Tekken 7 and a Tales of Berseria medley. With the focus on hardcore gamers, the songs are also skewed towards the harder side, with harder songs appearing in every category but especially in ‘Namco Original’.
Meanwhile, Drum ‘n’ Fun!, or rather the Japanese Nintendo Switch Version!, focuses on ‘Anime’, ‘Variety’, and ‘Namco Original’. With the game’s focus on multiplayer for the family, song selections favor “kiddy” songs, such as “Sanpo” from My Neighbor Totoro and “Alola!!” from the Pokémon Sun & Moon anime, to shonen songs such as “We Are” from One Piece and “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” from Dragon Ball Z. Songs err towards the easier end, even in the Namco Original category, and my hunch is that it was to accommodate the new Flick-style controls as well. The Taiko no Tatsujin series’ famous ‘2000’-series songs don’t appear at all in the current base song list, although it might be added via DLC later.
Some of the features and visual presentation elements are different between Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! and Drum ‘n’ Fun! as well. For example, Don-chan is displayed as a 3D model in Drum Session! and can be customized with various parts and costumes. These costumes are earned by an in-game gacha paid with in-game currency, earned by completing Bingo sheets that act as achievements for each song. There are also various nicknames you can earn through the gacha and by mastering songs.
Meanwhile, Drum ‘n’ Fun! completely removes the option to customize Don-chan. Instead, it adds a roster of various playable characters as avatars, which I previously talked about here. In short, each character has their own abilities that make it easier or harder, compared to just using Don-chan. It’s a trade-off where you should consider what matters to you more.
Regarding multiplayer, the PlayStation 4 Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! has a larger focus on online elements. There is an asynchronous ghost function, where you can play against your own or your friend’s ghost data, and the game also tracks your scores against those of your friends. The online Rank Match function lets you compete against scores of every player and earn Festival Points in order to gain online-exclusive costumes and nicknames during events.
The Nintendo Switch Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! instead focuses on local multiplayer. While in Drum Session!, you can only play together with another friend, Drum ‘n’ Fun! has various versus rules that allows you to compete to see who is the best at drumming, such as by score, final combo, or best combo. Combined with the Character skill system, the versus feature is actually surprisingly fun. Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! also has a party game feature that is completely missing in the PlayStation 4 release, being an exclusive mode, similar to how the Nintendo 3DS Taiko no Tatsujin games have exclusive RPG adventures.
So what do you think? Will you choose Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! or Drum ‘n’ Fun? It really depends on what you prioritize, which system you own, and what sort of environment you’ll be playing in more.
Food for Thought:
1. This is my own personal opinion, but the theme song for Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is much better than that of Drum ‘n’ Fun!’s. The latter is fine, but just doesn’t reach the same heights. It seems Bandai Namco agrees, as it’s the background music for the English version announcement trailer.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is available for PlayStation 4 in Japan and Asia. Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! is available for Nintendo Switch in Japan. Both games will be available in North America and Europe on November 2, 2018.