The novelty of banging on a touch screen drum was previously introduced in Taiko no Tatsujin DS and I think most of the Siliconera readers don’t need a lengthy introduction explaining how to play the game. You tap the drum on the bottom of the screen or press any of the face buttons to hit a red note. Press the shoulder buttons or hit the outer area to clear a blue note. Repeat as necessary and bang on the screen rapidly when you see a yellow trail. Eels, tigers and turtles dance to the Engine Sentai Go-Onger Ranger theme.
There is a Nintendo DS twist to the Taiko no Tatsujin series, a multiplayer mode for four players where you compete to string the longest combo, best score or well timed drum hits. This mode was actually introduced in Taiko no Tatsujin DS, but it’s more prominently featured in Taiko no Tatsujin: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken since you’re going to have to battle Botan and her army of drums to complete the single player dojo mode.
I actually never touched the four player mode in Taiko no Tatsujin DS so it was “new” for me and playing against the computer is quite annoying due to items. Occasionally, a flashing question mark will float by. If you hit this you might be rewarded with a multiplier or points added to your combo meter. You can also get sacked with takoyaki that stick to the drum on the bottom of the screen. If you’re using the included drum sticks you can tap parts of the drum that aren’t blocked by the takoyaki or make a swipe to knock them off the screen. However, if you’re playing on a train and pressing buttons all of your taps are considered “blocked”. Since holding the DS in your lap is practically impossible while standing without a table I found myself switching to thumb taps when items came into play.
The dojo mode where Wada Don travels through seven islands is the main new feature in Taiko no Tatsujin: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken. I guess this is obvious because it’s part of the title. In dojo mode you have to complete to pre-set challenges like getting score X in a certain song or hitting Y% of the notes in another while moving Wada Don on a map. Clearing each island unlocks new costumes for the mascot character and more importantly songs. However, this mode surprisingly requires some Japanese literacy. In the first level the old man requires Wada Don to don the kuroi hakama (black traditional outfit) before facing him. It’s a tradition and an excuse for the developers to make multiple paths with roadblocks.
I’m guessing some people are planning on importing this and as a compliment to Luke’s awesome menu translations I wrote up a terse walkthrough for the single player mode. Highlight the text to see the spoilers.
First Island – Wear the Kuroi Hakama (black robe) before entering the dojo boss fight.
Cat Island – Put on the cat clothes to cross the bridge.
Forest Island – When you need to get into the cabin put on the Kistune no Omen, it looks like a Japanese mask. To enter the dojo and the boss fight you need to equip the hokkamuri (head wrap) and furo shiki (traditional clothes wrap). Wada Don gets these items in this level.
Dessert Island – Wear the wedding dress and veil to enter the dojo.
Underwater Island – When you need to swim put on the swordfish costume. Later you will need the mokugyo drum (wooden fish) to battle the boss at the dojo. The drum looks like a circle and it's brown.
Mecha Island – The lanterns tell Wada Don they need to hear the sound of a bell, so you're going to need switch drums to the small bell you got earlier. Wear the train outfit to ride the railroad tracks.
Lava Island – When Wada don runs into a wall of rocks equip the drill to crush them. Near the end of the stage you will need to wear the hawk costume to fly over the lava.
Waiting in a dojo on each island is a drum master you need to fight. Dojo battles are different from the four player fights, but they don’t deviate much from the Taiko no Tatsujin formula. Each drum tap chips away at the dojo master’s life bar. However, if you miss a beat or hit a bomb Wada Don takes damage. To complicate the battles the dojo masters occasionally occlude the notes by throwing projectiles or in Boton’s case, dancing to disco lights. Something interesting about the dojo battles is Namco Bandai will push you through them in easy mode. If you continuously fail a dojo fight, the life bar for your rival lowers and keeps dropping until you pass the stage.
On top of astronaut outfits and regal clothes for Wada don you can also change the drum sounds by equipping different percussion instruments. Naturally, there is a selection of drums, but Namco Bandai has a few “creative” additions. The tsuzumi drum plays sounds used in the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja menus. The hollow “bonk” used for confirmation replaces center drum hits and “Yo!” is reserved for the outer drum hits. Alternatively, you can skip using percussion instruments all together and play songs using a piece of bubble wrap.
The Doraemon theme with bubble wrap popping sounds, only in Taiko no Tatsujin: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken.
Images courtesy of Namco Bandai. Photo credit Spencer/Siliconera.