A new Taiko Drum Master game is out in English! Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is playable in our native tongue in both its Japanese and “Asia” editions, and while an American release would be better, this is… still quite an improvement! Let’s check it out.
It’s long been a bit difficult to interpret just exactly what the “default” player count is for a Taiko game, with lots of compensation done to allow four players but still do something interesting with one. Drum Session! doubles down on, well, doubles. If you want to play with more… import a Wii U? It’s not possible here, but there are some good things that come along with that choice. Players can use individual accounts and save progress, which is better than the Wii U’s limited character slots. When you’re playing alone, your friends’ songs will get shared with you, so you can play with ghost data and feel less alone.
Leaning into this approach leads to a track list that pushes simultaneous drums, sometimes throws patterns back and forth on the same difficulty and generally wants you to feel camaraderie in mechanics in the same way it always has in spirit. Each song has a system of stamps and bingo cards, with filling three-stamp lines in any direction leading to credits that you can spend to make your drum more customized. As of this writing, my Don-chan is a helicopter buddy that loves the My Neighbor Totoro theme and encourages you to go for full combos, but that will definitely change as I find more and more interesting pieces.
Playing with a virtual friend yields you extra coins for unlockables, so it’s clear that it’s the way Taiko wants you to play. It’s unfortunate, then, if you don’t have friends who have also imported it! You can, of course, seek out online communities, but it’s an important thing to know going in. Players who are incredibly good at rhythm games (and we know you’re out there) aren’t going to have a problem getting some cool stuff, but mere mortals like us could use the economic boost.
But hey, even without that, it’s a fun Taiko game! Included in its song list are Japanese renditions of the themes from Frozen and Zootopia, game themes from Bandai Namco like Tales of Berseria and, of course, a whole host of songs that are way too fast and only show up in rhythm games. Those are fun too, sometimes!