U-1: Because I can!
Zowie: Because what?
Zowie: Say it! Because what?
U-1: I can do it because... Because... Because I AM GITAROO MAN!
— Quote taken from right before the Final Boss, which sums up the game pretty nicely.
Gitaroo-Man is a Music/Rhythm Action PlayStation 2 game developed by iNiS.
U-1 is a loser: his best and only friend is his talking dog, Puma; he can't get attention from his crush Pico to save his life; and rich, talented Kazuya takes every opportunity to pick on him. Fortunately for him, Puma reveals that he's the inheritor of a great legacy: he's the last descendant of Gitaroo-Man's line, destined to battle evil and free his people by playing a magical Gitaroo. U-1 thus finds himself thrust into the conflict between the Gravillian opressors and his enslaved people, and along the way, he falls in love, learns to to stand up on his own, and grows up.
Gameplay consists of a Charge Phase (following a curving line and tapping a button in sync with the circles that appear in the line to fill up U-1's vitality meter), a Battle Phase (same as the Charge Phase except you are damaging your opponent as well as pressing buttons to dodge the enemy's attacks), and a Final/Harmony Phase (when your enemy's health is low/critical, U-1 launches an extravagant solo attack that finishes the enemy off).
The game was given a PSP remake, "Gitaroo-Man Lives!" which featured some new options such as a Jukebox mode as well as two new songs for multiplayer.
This game provides examples of:
- And You Were There: Kirah, the girl that U-1 befriends, and Zowie, the Big Bad of the game, look very similar to Pico, U-1's Crush, and Kazuya, the boy who bullies him, considering that both sets of characters share the same voice actors, and both Kazuya and Zowie share the same Years Too Early catchphrase.
- Attack Its Weak Point: From "Born to be Bone":Miranda: "Go for their weak spots!"U-1, Puma: "What weak spots?"Miranda: "Their weak spots are... uh... I forget."
- Badass Boast: In "Metal Header," U-1 and Kirah are facing off against a rapping Humongous Mecha. If you listen closely, every lyric is dedicated to explaining how awesome he is along with alluding to Super Robot attack names.
- Bears Are Bad News: Let's face it; there is a bear in the third stage.
- Bee Afraid: Haven't you heard? There's a new King in town. Mojo mojo mojo KING BEE! Truly one of the most terrifying characters ever.
- Bittersweet Ending: U-1 is forced to return home, despite having come a long way with his love interest and making friends on Gitaroo world. Back on Earth, his new found self confidence and badassery lets him stand up to the bully and make a different but similar girl notice him.
- Boastful Rap: The song "Metal Header", added in Gitaroo-Man Lives!, sung by the Humongous Mecha Kai-Kakoon:Well, no machine's as big as me
I'm the metal master, now can't you see?
I'll line you up and then I'll shoot you down
Too many clowns in Gitaroo Town!
- Coming-of-Age Story: U-1 learns to play the gitaroo, stand up for himself, and overcome his self-esteem issues.
- Concert Climax: The second last level could be seen as a combination of both versions, what with you fighting and serenading Kirah.
- Creator Thumbprint: It has all the themes that would later define iNiS. Is it weird? Yes. Is the music any good? Yes. Is it hard? Let's just say that one fan has lovingly nicknamed it "Carpal Tunnelroo Man" and leave it at that.
- Difficulty Spike: The stages with Panpeus, Flying-O, and Mojo King Bee aren't too tough if you have a good grasp of the game mechanics. Then you hit the first battle with Ben-K, and the difficulty just skyrockets from there.
- On Master Mode, you could just start the spike from Mojo King Bee. And considering that's only the third level...
- Expy: In-universe examples: Kirah and Zowie are suspiciously similar to Pico and Kazuya (see Talking to Himself).
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Most of the bosses at least get mentioned by Zowie before they show up, but Panpeus and Gregorio III just kind of appear. Gregorio III doesn't even get a proper cutscene.
- The new multiplayer bosses in Lives! don't get much explanation at all. Ming Ming at least has the advantage of being present during the game's main story, but Kai-Kakoon just...shows up.
- Harder Than Hard: Master Play/Master Mode. Notable when you consider that this is the only step above Normal.
- Humongous Mecha: Ben-K after the chase stage. U-1 and Puma get their own, called "Woofer-Mazing", to fight him (or for most of the stage, to run away from him).
- Improbable Weapon User: Even considering that all the weapons in the game are instruments, there are some weird ones. Panpeus' axe and Gregorio III's cathedral stand out in particular.
- While Ben-K can be excused for having an improbable weapon, being a robot and all, who the hell designed him to have nipple turntables as a weapon?
- Invisible Backup Band: Averted, as the backup band is visible every time there's a musical duel. It's composed of a cymbal player, ukulele player, and accordion player, and they always show up regardless of whether or not their instruments are even used in the song. Nobody ever mentions their existence.
- Large Ham: Gregorio Siegfried Wilhelm III, although he calms this down when he narrates for the Album, replacing the ham with lemons.
- Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: Kirah, who has been "bred since birth" to be the ultimate Gravillian warrior.
- Logical Weakness: King Mojo Bee's and his trumpet Gitaroo are threatening, but he runs out of breath after 4 minutes of nonstop playing and jumping around, causing him to be finished off while trying to recover.
- Nintendo Hard: If Normal Mode doesn't leave you crying for mercy, Master Mode certainly will. It's not surprising, though, given that half the dev team is also behind a certain other Nintendo Hard rhythm game series.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Emperor Zowie is SO not David Bowie. And no, he's most definitely named after the guy's first son, if that's what you were thinking.
- No, the mismatched eyes and camp mannerisms of Gregorio III aren't meant to remind you of Bowie either. And no, he's clearly not a pastiche of post-1991 Michael Jackson either.
- Non-Indicative Name: Gitaroos can be, among other things, trumpets, UFOs, sharks, space helmets, and church cathedrals.
- Even U-1's Gitaroo changes sound depending on the enemy he's fighting against. Most levels simply make it sound like an electric guitar with a different distorter, though in one level it sounds like an acoustic guitar, and in another it even sounds like a theremin.
- Mojo King Bee's "Bee-Jam Blues" is definitely Funk, not Blues.
- Oh, Crap!: U-1 when he realizes he has to fight the Sanbone Trio without being able to turn into Gitaroo-Man.
- Punny Name: Scattered throughout the game. U-1 would be read as Yuichi in Japanese or rather like Ewan in English, both being boys' names; Ben-K, the robotic shark, is probably a reference to this guy, church Gitaroo wielder Gregorio III brings to mind a Gregorian chant, and Kirah is a pun on "killer", hinting at her Tyke Bomb nature.
- The Sanbone Trio are a Triple-Whammy of puns: their name is both a pun on "Sambo" and Bilingual Bonus for "Three (San) Bones", and is also a pun on "Hambone".
- Replay Value: Every stage has a few sections that aren't in the game's soundtrack that are randomly shuffled in if you don't get to the final stage yet. Of note is the Sanbone Trio, who have far more of these than any other boss.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: The first boss, Panpeus, is an axe/guitar playing devil.
- Sissy Villain: Gregorio III, the alto-singing White Hair, Black Heart.
- Skeletal Musician: The Sanbone Trio, a trio of robotic skeletons who play themselves like xylophones.
- Take a Third Option: The battle against Kirah. It starts with U1 fighting her Gitaroo to Gitaroo. But midway through the song he can't bring himself to continue, despite urges from his allies to fight or be beaten. Rather then do either, he instead plays the love ballad he played to Kirah earlier. This convinces her to surrender the battle and her Gitaroo, after a duet of course.
- Technical Pacifist: In Lives!, after Puma and co. defeat Ming-Ming and destroy her flying machine, Puma floats his platform down to catch her before she can fall into the ocean.
- Technician vs. Performer: In the final guitar duel, Zowie opens with a bunch of rapid fire notes that sound really harsh and atonal. U-1, in response, opens with one crystal clear reverberating note. He intends to win through melody, not through flash.
- The Mole: Turns out that Kirah was trained to fight with her own musical weapon but U-1 refuses to keep battling her in her respective stage, and decides to show her that the real enemy is Emperor Zowie.
- Theme Naming: A few names are references to David Bowie, which isn't so odd when you consider iNiS's strange obsession with Bowie, however.
- The Power of Love: Protects U-1 from Kirah's attacks and subsequently prompts her HeelFace Turn.
- This Loser Is You: U-1 starts off as this, but gets better in the ending.
- Threatening Shark: The two stages after the third feature Ben-K. The first stage is really terrifying. The second stage is a Breather Level, probably because he's a Humongous Mecha now.
- Up to Eleven: Gregorio's Gitaroo is his entire cathedral. No, not the pipe organ inside it, the entire room.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Ming-Ming isn't seen after the battle with the Sanbone Trio, and doesn't appear for the rest of the game. He is however fought in the PSP remake Gitaroo Man Lives!.
- World of Ham: Gregorio III may be the largest offender, but it seems as though everyone has to overact in this game.
- Years Too Early: Invoked three times: First said by Kazuya, then twice by Zowie in a Meaningful Echo, or in two different cutscenes in two different forms, either way for the latter a Rule of Three at it's best.
- Is actually quite a motif in this game with "Infinity Impossible" appearing everytime something like that is mentioned.