Review – Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version

I’m a huge fan of rhythm games, most specifically those that allow me to pretend to play a musical instrument, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I have never been into the drum-based Taiko no Tatsujin (also known as Taiko Drum Master in the West), not because I didn’t like it, but mostly because I only know of one arcade parlor 20 miles away from my house that has one of those big cabinets. Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and got the brand new Switch version of Taiko no Tatsujin from the Japanese eShop and still had a good time with it.


This is the best game featuring Kirby you’ll find on the Switch…

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Taiko no Tatsujin’s objective is to hit a typical Japanese drum (a taiko) to the notes showcased onscreen. Red notes mean you need to hit the face of the drum, while blue notes mean you need to hit the rim of the drum. In a way, this game is a more Japan-oriented and slightly more challenging version of those old Donkey Konga games released for the Gamecube (both series were developed by Bandai Namco).

The difference this time around is that you can use the joycons and their HD rumble capabilities to play “air drums” without the need of using a special controller (even though you can buy one of those as well). The gameplay is simple and can be learned pretty quickly, even in Japanese: hit the joycon normally for a red note, swipe it diagonally for a blue note. This doesn’t mean the controls are perfectly responsive however; the joycon motion controls are in fact too sensitive at times. Thankfully, it doesn’t ruin the overall experience for the most part.


The reason I got this game.

This is a music game and naturally everyone’s main concern is if the song list is good or not. Taiko no Tatsujin features a wide assortment of licensed songs, but you have to understand one thing: this game was made for a Japanese audience, therefore the song list was chosen for a Japanese audience. The game is chock-full of anime theme songs, vocoder music, J-pop, and even some famous songs from the world of video games (Super Mario Odyssey‘s “Jump Up Super Star” is present). You really need to like these types of music in order to fully appreciate the game. Without a doubt, my favorite tune in the whole game is “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”, also known as the original Dragon Ball Z theme song.


I have no idea what’s going on down below.

Taiko no Tatsujin for the Switch is a nice option if you’re into music games and if you’re into Japanese music in general. Even though the game will receive an English localization patch in a few weeks, it is completely playable even if you know nothing about the Japanese language. It is a bit short when it comes to modes and some of its songs are quite boring, but I won’t lie, I had more fun being an air drummer than I would have ever expected.


Graphics: 6.5

A bunch of trippy, colorful, cartoony and random imagery being thrown at you while you concentrate at hitting the drum icons.

Gameplay: 8.0

While the controls are easy to learn and fun enough, the joycon sensitivity isn’t exactly well-calibrated.

Sound: 9.0

The soundtrack gets the job done as it should, showcasing a variety of styles carefully catered for a Japanese audience, even if the vocoder songs or the children’s lullabies are a lot less entertaining than the rest.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The game could have had a bit more tunes and a wider variety of modes, but it’s still a very fun rhythm title that takes advantage of the Switch’s motion control capabilities.

Final Verdict: 7.5