The Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons really are amazing pieces of hardware, being able to fit in so many functions at once, and I’m glad to see that more games are starting to make use of them to devise various control schemes unique to the system. Among them are drum games such as Gal Metal, and now Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version!, where you can use them in place of a physical drum.
If you’re any familiar with ARMS, then actually doing and pulling off the required motions aren’t very hard, as they use the same neutral stance. Flicking forward and downward from the neutral position will hit the “don” (red) note, while flicking your wrist at around 45° will register the “katsu” (blue) note instead.
While you might gain the impression that this is just a failed implementation of unnecessary waggle controls, my first thought was that the controls in this mode… were surprisingly solid! And it all has to do with the haptic feedback of the HD Rumble, which gives a satisfying “thud” for every successful hit. It easily lets you know when the hit registers so you can return your hand to the original neutral position quickly, and I found myself clearing some Normal and even some Hard difficulty songs pretty quickly.
I wouldn’t say we looked exactly like the Nintendo Switch Version ad, but it was actually pretty close.
Of course, sometimes the hits still don’t register, but I find that the controls are very usable for people who don’t adjust well for button controls. Take my mother, for example, who for once actually showed some interest in video gaming. Even if Taiko no Tatsujin is on the simple side of basic rhythm game controls, it’s hard to make someone unaccustomed to controllers focus on the upcoming notes when they spend so much concentration making sure they’re pressing the right buttons. This time, I simply taught her the neutral position and made sure she kept it that way, and she actually made it through some of the easier difficulties.
(I also chose a special rhythm character for her so it would be even easier, but that’s a story for another time.)
In the end, you are flicking your wrists mid-air, so playing using this mode for an extended period of time does tire out your wrists. I did find that playing using this method helped me get into the tempo and mood for the game. It was almost like I was playing the arcade version at home, since the arcade drum controller really invites you to play passionately. It’s also a good way to get beginners to enjoy the game through a more physical method rather than dealing with finicky buttons.
Food for Thought:
1. I’ll just rank my thoughts on all the control schemes for Docked Mode right now: Switch Pro Controller > Joy-Cons in Joy-Con grip > Flick controls > Single Joy-Con. The Switch Pro Controller, while iffy for 2D platformers, feels even better for Taiko no Tatsujin than the PS4 controller did. As a side note, the joystick when using a single Joy-Con acts as the D-pad would in any other control scheme.
2. There is one other control scheme that is limited to handheld mode only, and that is the touchscreen drum. (See here for an example of me playing using it.) Tapping the drum is a “don”, while outside the drum on the bottom area counts as a “katsu”. Sadly, it’s not as feasible as I thought, because it only registers and appears on-screen when your Joy-Cons are attached to the Switch system. This means it’s incredibly difficult to find a comfortable position because of how wide the system is when the Joy-Cons attached. However, the touch controls are responsive, as it should be.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version! is available for Nintendo Switch in Japan. The Southeast Asia version launches on August 9.