The Cult of the Game: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! vs. Elite Beat Agents
March 15, 2009, 10:34 pm
Filed under: The Cult of the Game

For all the Nintendo DS’s worth few games really take advantage of it. Oh sure you can say that a lot of interface improvements have been made but take a title like Phoenix Wright, certainly enhanced by the stylus, and yet in all honesty doesn’t really NEED it explicitly. Noble efforts all around for DS game designers and I do think it’s one of the best systems of all time but I really wish some companies would try to flex the systems touch screen muscle. We’ve had some great shining examples like The World Ends With You, Metroid Prime Hunters and all but we need MORE of that, they definitely seem to be in the minority than the majority.

Rhythm games would seem perfect for the DS. With the touch pad interface you should be able to come up with some nifty mechanics that work well in the genre. The hard part at this point then it to make the game compelling, make it too simple and you might as well be playing Flash Flash Revolution, too convoluted and you’ll end up with a diluted messs like Guitar Hero on Tour. The sort of rhythm game that would work on the DS needs to have the balance of elements, simple design in terms of gameplay but be compelling to be worth the price of admission.

It took Japanese developer iNiS, then known for the great yet brutally difficult Gitaroo Man games, to bring such a game to the Nintendo DS. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! Released by Nintendo for the DS in the summer of 2005, was as simple a concept for a DS rhythm game as you can get. During the course of the game small numbered circles would appear on the touch screen, as their “beat” came up (indicated by another circle slowly shrinking to the size of the numbered circle) you would need to tap them at the correct time in the correct order. To break up the monotony sliders and spinners get involved. Your object to is to not miss as many beats to prevent a ever draining life bar at the top of the screen from depleting. Perfect beats add more health while missed beats will cause you to lose health. A little hard to explain with words but the below video should more than explain it.

osu_tatakae_ouendan_coverart
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What prevents Ouendan! From being a pretty pedestrian rhythm game is its premise. In Ouendan! You’re the leader of a group of male cheer leaders, who, when called for help (by a person who screams “OUEEENNNDAAAANNNN”) they come and cheer for the person to get through their problems. The issues range from passing the Japanese entrance exams for university to fighting off giant monsters to saving the earth from a meteor. During the game the distressed individual’s actions appear on the top screen while during some intervals in the game cut scenes to show how well they’re handling their crisis thanks to your help, these breaks provide great breathers especially during the intense later songs.

The soundtrack for Ouendan is made up of mostly modern J-Rock hits though there are a couple of golden oldies on it like “Linda Linda” The Blue Hearts. Featuring songs by such popular groups like Orange Range, Asian Kung-Fu Gnerartion, L’arc En Ciel B’z and Hotimi Yaida iNiS really hit the note when it came to the song choices.

Ouendan’s quirky humor and solid gameplay coupled with some notable Japanese acts on its soundtrack and the DS’s lack of region locking turned the game into a huge import hit in North Ameirca. Taking notice to this Nintendo commissioned a localized version of Ouendan! Be created the ending result being Elite Beat Agents. The story was slightly changed, no longer male cheerleaders coming to help people but equally odd a group of dancing secret agents who are assigned by a boss to help people from Babysitting to an Alien Invasion.

Elite Beat Agents featured a few improvements in game play. From the practical, like being able to skip length song intros (ask anyone who’s had to do Ready! Steady! Go! Over and over again in Ouendan! To find out how useful it is) to an added scoring system judging at how well you perform a series of beats and giving you bonus points based on how many you get “perfect” in a sequence. Elite Beat Agents has a very eclectic soundtrack, from old classic rock hits like Queen and Deep Purple, to mall punk like Sum 41 and Good Charlotte to modern pop like Avirl Lavigne and Ashleep Simpson, the strange hodge podge of songs isn’t very cohesive but each choice provides a great challenge.

A big complaint many gamers had about Elite Beat Agents was the changed they made from the original Japanese Ouendan! Simply put I got to say that I could ever hardly see Ouendan! In its original form working here in North America. The Japanese music would be off putting to most for starters and its bizarre concept soaked in Japanese pop culture would confuse most. I also don’t think they did a bad job with the localization, Elite Beat Agent has a lot of the off beat humor and hilarious situations the original had.

In either case both games are excellent rhythm games that belong in your DS library. Featuring great gameplay and hilarious concept Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents are music owns. They’re both shining examples of what the DS at its best can do.

(Note if you’re wondering why I don’t mention Ouendan 2 it IS a good game but I find the soundtrack lacking.)

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1 Comment so far
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I friggen loved Elite Beat Agents, but I was kinda shocked and saddened by how easy it was. OH WELL.

Comment by Celisse Wordpower




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