Playing through a Japanese rhythm game can be sort of an adventure. With Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun, the track selection feels like it is designed to be as diverse as possible as one example. When it comes to Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party, a huge game with a massive tracklist, things feel a little more specific. Here, it seems like specific audiences are being kept in mind, even though there are enough tunes available to keep everyone happy.
Leading up to Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party’s launch, Taito focused on three sorts of songs that would be in the game. The company really hammered home that the Touhou Project, Vocaloid, and Virtual YouTubers were going to steal the show. When you look at the final track listing, it shows. 28 songs are from various Vocaloids. 20 are Touhou Project-related tracks. Mixed into the different genres are songs from Kizuna, like “AiAiAi,” or Mirai Akari’s “Mirai to Mirai.” Some of the easiest and earliest characters you’ll unlock are from these series. Reimu’s Navigator is given to you for playing a single Touhou track, and you similarly get her and Marisa’s Avatars as quickly.
While this may seem overwhelming, the Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party song list is welcoming to newcomers. The Touhou, Vocaloid, and VTuber tracks picked are all accessible ones. Since this isn’t a specialized entry like a Hatsune Miku: Project Diva game, there’s no concern about how frequently a track might have already appeared. It can use Miku’s “Senbonzakura” and not have to worry that it already appeared in Future Tone, Project Diva F, and Project Mirai DX. Similarly, it can toss in a great ONE track, “Please Darling,” without having to explain who the CeVIO Creative Studio Vocaloid is and her connection to IA. (They’re both made by 1st Place Co. and considered “siblings.”)
Being able to go with these popular, fan-favorite songs could also make it easier to introduce VTubers. Let’s use “Echo” as an example. This is one of the Gumi Vocaloid games in Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party. However, you can choose optional Mirai Akari vocals for this track. I felt it lent additional gravitas to this particular song and preferred that rendition after listening to it. The options can help get people thinking.
Even for the Touhou tracks, Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party is wise in that it also includes some of the goofier tunes. This helps remove a barrier of entry, due to them being silly or very obviously challenging. IOSYS’ “Marisa Stole the Precious Thing” is the one in particular I’m talking about. A few years back, IOSYS released the remix at Comiket. (Let’s not pretend it is now 13 years old.) It became a meme and notorious outside of the fanbase. That song is here and its Master version is among the hardest in the game.
While these sorts of Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party songs do get lots of attention, there are a few anime, game, and pop that get attention too. Bubble Bobble’s “Bubble Bobble Medley,” Darius’ “The Seventh Boss 2019,” Darius Gaiden’s “Fake –Progressive Kota Mix-,” Darius Burst’s “The World of Spirit,” and Kage no Densetsu’s “Kage no Densetsu ~Butaotome Mix~” are all immediately available to play. “Pop Team Epic” is included, and it feels like it wouldn’t be a music game without “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” wasn’t in there. Kemono Friends’ “Welcome to Japari Park” and Gurren Lagann’s “Sky Blue Days” show up too.
Yes, there can feel like there is absolutely a bias when it comes to the Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party song list. A certain audience is being targeted with this entry, and even the released DLC has shown it with more Touhou and Vocaloid packs. But what is here is handled well. The songs from Touhou Project, Vocaloids, and VTubers are all among the best and most memorable tracks. Quite a few anime and game songs are also tossed in to round things out, with original songs also there to help make things more well-rounded.
Groove Coaster: Wai Wai Party is available for the Nintendo Switch.