Konami is finally starting to consider the DS a viable option for its Bemani series of games, as evidenced by the February 2010 release of the music game Utacchi!!. Think of it as a sort of light version of Pop’n Music, with some of the same songs but touch screen controls and different gameplay mechanics.
In Utacchi!!, players hold the DS sideways as though it were a book. The touch screen is where you’ll be playing along with the music, and the opposite screen will show a dancing character and the touch screen will have notes falling from the top to the bottom of the screen. You can alter the settings to choose how many rows there’ll be (between 1-5) and how difficult the experience will be.
Once the song begins, red, blue, yellow and green notes will drop to the bottom, each with katakana, hirigana or letters on it that correspond to the lyrics. Each note requires you to perform a certain action when they reach the bottom of the screen. You tap the button for red notes, tap and hold for blue, tap and tap and quickly slide up for yellow. The green notes sound a bit tricky, as you have to tap once it hits the bottom, then slide the stylus up and down until the note ends.
If you don’t like tapping the touch screen, then you can always sing along. Utacchi has a karaoke mode that uses the DS’ microphone for those who are confident enough in their Japanese language skills to attempt it. And who don’t mind singing into their DS.
Utacchi!! has campaign, free play, multiplayer and omake Modes. There’s also a shop where players can use coins earned from playing to unlock new characters, songs, and such. The game starts with 10 songs unlocked, and as you play and earn more coins, you can obtain more.
Since it’s a music game, I’d guess it’d be pretty import friendly. As long as you keep track of what color note requires what kind of tapping motion, you should be fine. Plus, think of it this way – if you import you know you’ll be getting a game with classic Bemani songs. If Konami did decide to release Utacchi!! overseas, the company would probably fill it with English-language tracks.