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Video Game: Taiko Drum Master

Taiko Drum Master (Taiko no Tatsujin in Japan) is a series of rhythm games created by Namco Bandai. The series started in 2001 as an arcade game; eventually console versions were released for the PS2, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, {{3DS}}, as well as for mobile, Apple iOS and Android.

The gameplay revolves around the traditional Japanese drum, the Taiko. Red notes, or don notes, are played by hitting the center of the drum; blue, or kat notes by hitting the rim. Long yellow notes are drumrolls, where each hit during the note grants points, Balloon notes work similarly, where you have to hit the drums x times, where x is the number on the balloon. (The DS version exclusive note, the denden, is like the balloon note, except you have to alternate between don and kat.) The Play Station 2 and Wii installments include a smaller drum-controller called the Tatacon, but the PSP/NDS versions rely on analogue controls (although the player can use the touch screen as a 'drum' in the NDS verison)

Taiko Drum Master has many, many characters, a wide range of songs, and a wider range of difficulty, shown by the infamous Oni difficulty. This is part of its appeal, as casual gamers can handle the easier difficulties, while veterans can challenge themselves with Oni.

Games in the series include:

    List of games in Taiko no Tatsujin 
  • Arcade releases
    • The first generation series, running on the Namco System 10 board, from Taiko no Tatsujin to Taiko no Tatsujin 6,
    • The second generation series, running on the Namco System 246 board, with a graphical overhaul and new user interfaces. Runs from Taiko no Tatsujin 7 to Taiko no Tatsujin 14, with two Asia-region releases in Chinese, Taiko no Tatsujin 11 Asia and 12 Asia.
    • The third and current generation series, running on the Namco System 357 board. Another graphical overhaul, and connectivity with Namco's Banapassport card system. The series was also rebooted, to an extent: the first game in this generation is simply called Taiko no Tatsujin. Sadly suffers from No Export for You, only available in Japan, unlike the earlier versions which could be found in the rest of Asia. Games include Taiko no Tatsujin (commonly referred to as Taiko 0 to differentiate it from the first game), Taiko no Tatsujin C/N KATSU-DON (or simply July 2012 update), and Taiko no Tatsujin Sorairo.
  • Sony Playstation 2
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Tatacon de Dodon ga Don (2002). The first console release, introducing mini games and survival modes.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Doki! Shinkyoku Darake no Haru Matsuri (2003)
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Appare! Sandaime (2003)
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Waku Waku Anime Matsuri (2003), sort of a Licensed Game, as effectively all songs in this version were Anime theme songs.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Atsumare! Matsuri da!! Yondaime (2004). The first console game to switch to the second-generation graphics, as well as introducing the Don-point unlock system.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Go! Go! Godaime (2004). Introduced the Doron (Invisible) modifier.
    • Taiko Drum Master (2004). The only game to get a Western release. Fully translated to English and included a few English-language songs.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Tobikkiri! Anime Special (2005). Another anime Licensed Game.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Wai Wai Happy! Rokudaime (2005). Introduced the Sudden Death modifier.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Doka! to Oomori Nanadaime (2006). Introduced the Abekobe (reverse notes) modifier, as well as the first console game to have a structured Adventure Mode.
  • Sony Playstation Portable
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Portable (2005). Featured additional DLC songs and supported local multiplayer for up to 2 players.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Portable 2 (2006). First console game to feature a proper Story Mode.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Portable DX (2011). Featured medley mode, allowed stacking of modifiers, as well as introducing the Kimagure (Random) and Detarame (S-Random) modifiers.
  • Nintendo DS
    • Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Touch de Dokodon! (2007). Allowed download play for up to 4 players with one cartridge, and came with a unique stylus.
    • Meccha! Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Nanatsu no Shima no Daibouken! (2008). Introduced boss battles for Story Mode, as well as the Bomb note (don't hit it).
    • Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Dororon! Youkai Dai Kessen! (2010)
  • Nintendo Wii
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii (2008). First game to support lyrics at the bottom of the screen. Supports Miis.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii: Dodon~! to Nidaime! (2009). First console game to congratulate Full Combos.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii: Minna de Party Sandaime (2010).
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii: Kettei-Ban (2011)
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Wii: Chogouka-Ban (2012)
  • Nintendo 3DS
    • Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb (2012). The first console game to use third-generation graphics.
  • Mobile / iOS / Android
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Mobile - Japanese cellphones only, only supports the two easiest difficulty modes.
    • For iOS, Taiko no Tatsujin & Taiko no Tatsujin 2 for iOS, two standalone apps with 5 songs each, as well as Taiko no Tatsujin RS, a Licensed Game for Japanese band Rip Slime.
    • Also for iOS, Taiko no Tatsujin Plus, the main app for Taiko. Includes DLC packs and Twitter support.
    • Taiko no Tatsujin Android - Functionally similar to the iOS 'Plus' version.


The franchise provides examples of:

  • April Fools' Day: 2008 was a crossover between it and Bemani. The 2009 prank... became a reality.
  • Ascended Extra: From the American version, "Don Rangers," originally heard very briefly during one of the intermission scenes in Katamari Damacy.
  • Boss Battle
  • Cross Over: Some songs from Project Diva appears in the Taiko games. On the other hand, Project Diva Extend has loading-screen ads for Taiko no Tatsujin DX, featuring the Vocaloids drawn as drums.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The Dokon-Dan (from DS 2) and the Waru-Mekkas (from Wii 2) becomes so in their respective games' ending sequence.
  • The Four Gods: The four most difficult songs are dubbed as so by the staff team. Which makes things interesting considering how the fandom speculates that Ryougen no Mai's composer is Tatsh.
  • Interface Screw: During the boss battles in DS 2, sometimes the bosses will make noises, represented as sound effects that cover part of the notes.
  • Last Note Nightmare: Notechart-wise, Hello!Halloween and Rotter Tarmination
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Aside from the titular characters Don and Katsu, there are many MANY more characters, all either humans or walking, talking items found in traditional japanese festivals.
  • Long Title: The second DS instalment is named Meccha! Taiko no Tatsujin DS: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Donko gets into a fit when she sees Don with Miko, in Portable DX. This despite Miko is clearly a human girl and Don and Donko being taiko drums.
  • Nintendo Hard: Easy and Normal tend to be fairly easy, and Hard is challenging yet not insane. Oni however...
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: One of the mods is like this.You miss once, you fail the stage.)
  • The Power of Friendship: This series won't relent from drumming the importance of having friends into your head! It's a Japanese spirit.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The "villains" from DS 2. Overlaps with Terrible Trio, since they seem to be inspired by the Ur Example, the "bad guys" from the Time Bokan series. They are a small humanoid cat, a woman and a big dumb robot.
    • The 3DS installment introduces another set of minibosses, this time based on the Seven Deadly Sins
  • Recurring Riff: Notechart-wise...Saitama2000. Just...Saitama2000. Even the song itself spawned sequels such as Kitasaitama 2000, Hayasaitama2000, and now, Matasaitama2000.
  • Retraux: A number of medleys based off the NES games are composed in 8-bit. And of course there's YMCK's Family Don-don.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The Omikoshi Battle from Portable DX, in which you must defeat other taiko drum characters from all over Japan who are possessed by something resembling black smoke. The default option is starting from Tokyo.
  • Series Mascot: Don and Katsu.
  • Shrine Maiden: Miko from Portable DX. She's also the de-facto main character in Omikoshi Battle (the player being the unseen conductor).
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Many of the songs are music that are about the last thing you'd associate with taiko drums. Anyone wanna drum to J-Pop or Western pop? Or better yet, the first stage music from Darius?
    • Songs from the 2000 series are so weird it is difficult to imagine drumming to them.
  • Spin-Off: Namco and Nintendo co-developed Donkey Konga for the Gamecube, which has very similar gameplay, except using a pair of bongos instead.
  • Stellar Name: SORA-I Earth Rise, SORA-II Glise 581 and Sora-III Heliopause are named after astronomical terms. SORA-IV, however, deliberately averts this. Some other songs, such as Total Eclipse 2035 and Daidara 8551 are also named after astronomical terms
  • Toilet Humor: There are several unlockable drums you can obtain, such as a tambourine, a bell and so on. One of them is a butt which produces farting noises
  • Verbal Tic: 'Da-don!'
  • Variable Mix: "Songs" like this are playable in this game.
  • Widget Series: Absolutely everything that appears in the game is deeply-entrenched in Japanese culture, in both classic and modern sense.


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alternative title(s): Taiko No Tatsujin; Taiko Drum Master; Taiko No Tatsujin
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