The Nintendo Switch version of Taiko no Tatsujin is different from the PlayStation 4 release in many ways, but one of the most immediately noticeable is that people do not have access to everything all at once. While Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session abandons unlocking and lets you have all the songs at once, Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun does require you to put in some effort to earn various characters and songs. Fortunately, it handles unlocking in a rather practical way.
When it comes to the track list, Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun gives you access to 64 of its 74 total songs right away. That’s pretty admirable, right? Well, the unlocking criteria is considered, it gets even better. To earn more, you just have to play the game. If you play 100 times, you will get the additional 10 songs. You do not need to get Full Combos, where you successfully hit every note without any misses. You do not have to play on certain difficulties. You just have to enjoy the game.
The songs Bandai Namco chose to hide away were smart ones to keep secret. They tend to fall into three categories. Two are taken from video games. So if you liked Critical Velocity’s “Racing the Storm” or Assault’s “Assault BGM 1,” you’ll find them after playing 15 and 50 times total. As you go through the game, Namco Originals like “Antonio,” “Carnation,” “The Carnivorous Carnival,” “Doki-Doki Mune-Kyun Omatsuri Time,” “Ho-oh Tenbu Mugen Kuzure,””Jotei: Imbiratula,” and “Souryu no Ran.” The very last one is the fifth Classical track, “Kuraporuporusuka,” which appears after playing 100 times. This means you don’t have to unlock things you might want to play immediately, like Super Mario Odyssey’s “Jump Up, Super Star!,” Your Name’s “Zenzenzense,” Pokemon Sun & Moon’s “Alola!,” and Touhou Project’s “Bad Apple!!,” as songs like that are immediately accessible.
When you first start Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun, only a few characters are available. You can immediately pick Don-Chan, Katsu-Chan, Currycutta-Dondy, Yomogimaru, the Splatoon 2 Squid, and Kirby. If you grab the free DLC, Nekoko & Tomomo, from Neko Tomo, and Gold Don-chan will also be there. For everyone else, you have to play party games. Fortunately, they unlock at a good clip. To earn the other characters, you have to play party games 50 times. But, most of the most helpful characters unlock rather early on. The ones that show up at the end, like John Wada, tend to require you to spend more time perfecting your timing, due to requiring more precise notes.
The ones you unlock early on in Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun make learning to play easier. The first unlock is Master Bachio, a pair of drum sticks that let any input apply to any kind of hit. All you need to worry about is timing. Play a party game once to get this duo. If you are having trouble getting the Soul Gauge up, so you can pass a song, or handling balloons before time runs out, then Worm Wada can help you learn to deal with such things with his support skills. He appears after playing nine times. Water Mariko helps slightly with balloons and mallets, the two times when you really need to button mash, after playing minigames 12 times.
Did you know that playing well as Worm Wada in Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun will eventually cause him to float on a flower or dandelion? pic.twitter.com/RvfXWgfoW4
— Jenni Lada (@JMariye) November 13, 2018
The game even starts to give you characters that help you test yourself, without asking too much of you. The first “challenging” buddy is the Cat and Shaxy duo. They stop the Soul Gauge from dropping if you perform badly, but they also require more precise hits when nailing beats. It is a good way to start forcing yourself to pay attention, without having to worry about drastic penalties as you learn. This duo shows up after only 10 Party Game sessions. Considering there are 20 minigames, each with standard and expert versions, you can almost unlock character just by playing each version of every minigame once.
Having to gradually earn everything in a game might seem frustrating, but Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun handles it well. It gives you a substantial number of songs to start, with the unlockable ones mostly belonging to the Namco Original category. You have a decent number of characters to choose from at the start, with extra ones doled out generously for going through the minigames. Yes, you have to work for some stuff, but it doesn’t feel like people have to work very hard.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun is immediately available for the Nintendo Switch.