Review – Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival
Taiko No Tatsujin has been one of the main rhythm games since 2001 in Japan. The games are based solely around the taiko drum, much like Guitar Hero used to be solely guitar. It took a long time for the series to properly break out in the west, but the process was definitely pushed along by the inclusion of Taiko No Tatsujin: The Drum Master being added to Xbox Game Pass. Just like older Guitar Hero games, the Taiko No Tatsujin titles don’t actually require you to own the instrument. Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival actually has motion control, button, or touch screen options, on top of going out and buying one of the drums.
Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival features the same gameplay as previous games; there are only two notes to hit, either red or blue. It really could not be much easier than that, could it? Some of the songs are mind-bendingly difficult, but with over one hundred songs in the base game, and four difficulties to choose from, there’s a lot of practice space. If that’s not enough, Rhythm Festival introduces the new music pass subscription system, which has around five hundred songs ready for download at launch. Unfortunately though, songs have to be downloaded one by one, there is no “download all” option and there’s no queue, so no option to just go through and spam download on each song.
The tracklist in Rhythm Festival is a lot of fun, probably one of the better lists from this series of games. If you’re just looking at the base game you’ll be able to go from “DDU-DU DDU-DU” by BLACKPINK, The Legend of Zelda theme, the theme from Jujutsu Kaisen, and “William Tell Overture”. Add to that the inclusion of Babymetal, hundreds of anime tracks from Dragon Ball, One Piece, Detective Conan, and more, plenty of classical songs, and way more Namco songs that you can shake a stick at. With new songs allegedly coming monthly to the subscription service, this is destined to be one of the most impressive tracklists in any music game.
Outside of the regular Taiko mode, there’s also a Toy War story mode where you’ll battle against other characters in songs. Hitting notes builds up your meter to spawn a new toy, and whoever has the most toys at the end wins. It starts off pretty easy, but as some of the harder songs and harder difficulties start creeping in, some of these battles might take a little more time. Each battle won comes with a prize as well, usually a toy you can buy from the shop to customise the toy box you bring into battle.
Different toys have different “attacks” you can use against the opponent, like creating fake notes on their track, or creating a distraction. You can also play against other people in this mode, so it’s kind of similar to Guitar Hero 3‘s battle mode. Of course, Rhythm Festival also features an online mode, where majority of people are better than me and make me feel sad, so that’s something that only gets played for a little bit at a time.
The shop in Rhythm Festival has a few options for stuff to buy. As you play songs, you’ll earn experience and coins. Experience is used of course to level up, leveling will give you various things like story progression, new stock in the shops, or even just coins. In the shop, you’ll find outfits for Don-Chan to wear in each of your songs. They make absolutely no difference to how the song goes, but at least you have some customisation. You can also buy new instruments which change the sound of the drum when you hit it during songs, and as mentioned before, new toys for your toy box.
A lot of the graphics used in Rhythm Festival look very similar to how they were in previous games, which isn’t a huge issue since generally your eyes are fixed to the track anyways, but it’s certainly worth noting. The art is very bright and cheery though. It’s hard to be upset playing such a kawaii style game, even when you’re struggling on songs. The different outfits at the very least look different from each other, and the layout is very smooth and clean making the menus easy enough to navigate.
Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is another welcome addition to the drum hero series. With so many different styles of songs to pick from, and not just having to play song after song with no variety, it’s one of the easiest versions of the series to pick up and play. Whether or not the music pass will be worth it in the long run is to be seen, but at launch you’re looking at an additional five hundred songs for Rhythm Festival, some of which are from previous games, some not. Hopefully Bandai Namco will continue to put out updates of their socials about songs being added. As a whole though, Rhythm Festival would be a great starting point for anyone new getting into the Taiko No Tatsujin games, and is very welcome on the Nintendo Switch as a very simple pick up and play game.
The visuals in Rhythm Festival are bright, fun, and eye catching. The menus are simple and easy to navigate, the main hindrance being that most of the graphics are very similar to previous game. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Every way of playing Rhythm Festival feels responsive. The abundance of songs available before even including what is available in the music pass is huge. It’s easy to understand why the series has been going for so long.
Plenty of great new songs to play, a variety of older songs come back as is normal with the Taiko No Tatsujin games. The different instruments all actually sound different. A lot of the voice work is spot on the same from previous games, so basically the same gripe as with the graphics.
Fun Factor: 10
The easy difficulty is way too easy at this point. Extreme is a joke and I get lost in what hand is handling which colour. The “battle” mode of toy way is a ton of fun, and it’s an easy game to pick up and play for five minutes or five hours. Rhythm Festival is a blast and offers enough new for any new or returning fan of the series.
Final Verdict: 9.5
Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Taiko No Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival was provided by the publisher.