One thing that’s fun about Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version! is that you aren’t actually stuck with series mascots Don-chan and Kacchan all the time. Whenever you decide to choose ‘Rhythm Game’, you’re first brought to a Character Select screen where you can choose from various characters to act as your avatar.
These include nearly every background character that has appeared over the course of the Taiko no Tatsujin series, plus three extras – Kirby from the Kirby series, the Squid from Splatoon 2, and a Gold Don-chan, which is first-print DLC in Japan. They’re all voiced too! (Well, except for the Squid.) But what makes it different is that every character, except for Don-chan and Kaccha,n have their own abilities that impact gameplay.
Most of these are support options, such as making it easier to build up the Soul gauge that determines whether you pass or fail a song. Other skills include making it harder to lose Soul gauge from misses or supporting you when it comes to hitting certain types of special notes. These support options can sometimes go to the extreme, as they are obviously meant to help those who aren’t too good at the game. For example, Bachio-sensei’s (the drumsticks in the top left corner of the picture) effect makes the game remove the distinction between a “don” note instead of a “katsu” note. This makes it easier to focus on timing instead.
(Note: This was how I helped get my mom through the learning process of Taiko no Tatsujin, and Bachio-sensei is a good pick for people just starting off with the Flick control scheme)
— Some numbers guy (@s07195) July 26, 2018
On the other hand, some of the other options opt to throw a curveball into gameplay. Namahage, for example, will disable Bad notes altogether (though you still lose your combo). As a drawback, the Soul gauge will increase dramatically more slowly, meaning that I had to still hit most of the notes.
Sometimes you just gotta rain on Kirby’s parade.
One surprising thing about adding multiple playable characters is that multiplayer becomes surprisingly nuanced. Unlike Session de Dodon ga Don, the PlayStation 4 Taiko no Tatsujin game, Nintendo Switch Version! adds the option to face off against friends using a variety of judging criteria, such as score, final combo, and number of “Good” notes hit.
With the versus mode, choosing the right character becomes somewhat more important, though you can still choose to play as whoever you like. This can also provide a handicap to the other player, allowing for a more balanced contest. I found Taiko no Tatsujin to be very fun and fair, in this regard.
Overall, adding additional characters is a great way to get people to learn more about the other people in the series, since they rarely get time in the spotlight in this gameplay-first series. It’s a great replacement for Don-chan customization, and purists can still avoid the support effects by choosing Don-chan and Kacchan like usual. The only drawback is that the support effects are ‘take it or leave it.’ I couldn’t find an option to turn off the effects and just use different characters by themselves, which was a bit of a shame. However, it’s great for multiplayer.
Food for Thought:
So how do you unlock these characters? It’s a mix of playing a certain amount of songs, as well as doing well on certain party games. That’s right, there is an entire mode in Nintendo Switch Version! dedicated to party games… more on that later.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version! is available for Nintendo Switch in Japan. The Southeast Asia version launches on August 9, 2018.