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pop'n music is a game series in Konami's BEMANI lineup of Rhythm Games, developed as a Lighter and Softer version of beatmania, another Bemani title.

Like beatmania, notes come down the screen and the object is to "hit" the notes by pressing their corresponding buttons. Hitting notes will play parts of the music, while missing notes will make the music sound not like what it's supposed to be. Instead of 5-7 rectangular keys and a turntable like beatmania, pop'n uses nine big colorful buttons, requiring you to use your whole hands instead of individual fingers. Also unlike most rhythm games, pop'n forgoes having a music video for each song, instead pitting your chosen character against the character associated with the song you're playing, with separate animations for hitting or missing notes, and passing or failing a song.

pop'n uses a cute, colorful interface to appeal to younger players, but don't let that deceive you; pop'n is just as hard as other Bemani series, with songs requiring you to hit as many as 1,000 notes in the span of two minutes.

The Simple, yet Awesome core gameplay of pop'n and its ever-escalating challenge for veteran players has allowed the series to become successful with Rhythm Game fans, helped by a wide variety of songs to play and a massive boatload of cute and colorful characters. Having first launched in 1998, Konami continues to release new versions and updates, with many updates providing new songs and characters to unlock and new versions providing major game updates and new interface styles.

Sadly, while the series has enjoyed considerable success in Japan, it hasn't done so well overseas, partly because only one arcade version was ever officially released worldwide and only two consumer versions have had overseas releases.

Currently, the series is up to 26 main arcade installments, along with consoles releases and spin-off releases such as pop'n stage (which plays more like DanceDanceRevolution), pop'n music Animelo, pop'n music Best Hits and Hello! Pop'n Music.

    Games in the pop'n music series: 
All entries are arcade releases unless otherwise noted.
  • pop'n music (1998)
  • pop'n music 2 (1999)
  • pop'n music 3 (1999)
    • First arcade version with Hyper charts, which made their debut in pop'n 1's home release.
  • pop'n music 4 (2000)
    • First version to run on Firebeat hardware.
    • Last pop'n music game to have a Sega Dreamcast port.
  • pop'n music 5 (2000)
    • First version with EX charts.
  • pop'n music 6 (2001)
    • Last pop'n music game to have a PlayStation port. Said port has the most songs of any PS1 pop'n game, at 104 songs.
  • pop'n music 7 (2001)
  • pop'n music 8 (2002)
    • Theme: Springtime.
  • pop'n music 9 (2002)
    • Theme: Cafe.
    • First version to run on Viper hardware.
  • pop'n music 10 (2003)
    • Theme: Halloween.
  • pop'n music 11 (2004)
    • Theme: World travel.
  • pop'n music 12 Iroha (2004)
    • Theme: Feudal Japan.
    • First version to have a subtitle.
  • pop'n music 13 Carnival (2005)
    • Theme: Circus.
  • pop'n music 14 FEVER! (2006)
    • Theme: Club.
    • Last pop'n music game to have a PlayStation 2 port, as well as to have a non-arcade port overall, not counting the PSP games and Utacchi, atleast before ''Lively"
  • pop'n music 15 ADVENTURE (2007)
    • Theme: Adventure.
    • First version to run on Bemani PC.
  • pop'n music 16 PARTY (2008)
    • Theme: Party.
  • pop'n music 17 THE MOVIE (2009)
    • Theme: Movies.
  • pop'n music 18 Sengoku Retsuden (2010)
    • Theme: Sengoku period.
  • pop'n music 19 TUNE STREET (2010)
    • Theme: Town.
  • pop'n music 20 fantasia (2011)
    • Theme: Fantasy.
    • First version in which the COOL judgement is mandatory in the game's "main" mode.
  • pop'n music Sunny Park (2012)
    • Theme: Park.
    • First version to not have a number in the title since the first.
    • First version to have the 1-50 difficulty rating system.
    • First version to feature the new Easy chart system: 5 Buttons mode is gone, and instead, Easy charts use a variable number of buttons (from 3 to 9).
  • pop'n music Lapistoria (2014)
    • Theme: High School AU
    • New art style.
    • The scoring system is overhauled to be more forgiving on GREAT and GOOD judgements.
    • New songs no longer have genres.
  • pop'n music éclale (2015)
    • Theme: Elegance/nobility.
  • pop'n music Usagi to neko to shounen no yume (Roughly translates to "the rabbit and cat and boy's dream")
    • Theme: Steampunk
    • First mainline pop'n music game to have hold notes.
    • First official release to have letter grades.
  • pop'n music peace (2018)
    • Theme: "Back to the roots".
    • First version not to have a location test, or any promotional material (other than a few teasers) more than a day before its release.
    • Uses an art style closer to the original.
  • NEW pop'n music Welcome to Wonderland! (Cancelled)
    • Had a new cabinet that has smaller buttons and a touch panel, with new game mechanics that take advantage of the latter.
    • Uses 3D models for the characters in-game.
  • pop'n music Kaimei Riddlesnote  (2020)
    • Theme: Detectives.
  • pop'n music Uni Lab (2022) - Current Version
  • pop'n music Lively (2020)
    • The PC version of pop'n. Adds timing offset as a new feature.

Like most other Bemani series, pop'n music suffers from serious No Export for You-itis. The only games in the series that were released outside of Japan are an extremely rare US version of pop'n music 1, Beat'n Groovy, an XBLA release that many players regarded as being completely awful, and a Wii adaptation (released in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, although renamed in the latter as pop'n rhythm) that swapped out the physical controller for notes triggered with motion gestures (presented on-screen as the character hitting one of five buttons). In the U.S., Konami also tested a pop'n music redemption game based on the Wii version, using a simplified control scheme with four buttons in a row for each player, but it was quietly shelved and repackaged for Japan as the Spin-Off game HELLO! POP'N MUSIC.

As a result, the arcade version is very rare outside of Japan. If you want to play at home, you could buy the official controller for a more affordable experience, but the controller has much smaller buttons, so you might as well play beatmania IIDX. The other way is to spend a few hundred bucks on an arcade-sized controller. New arcade-sized controllers sell for at least $200; one such controller is more expensive than an entire Rock Band set. And this is all without the game or means to play the game on a PS2.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all difficulty levels on this page use the 1-50 scale. To convert from the old 1-43 scale to new scale, simply add 6.

Okay! Here we go! Are you ready?

  • All or Nothing: The "COOL or BAD!" ojama disables the GREAT and GOOD judgement ranks, turning any hit below a COOL rating into a BAD even if it would have otherwise resulted in a GREAT or a GOOD.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The song "Spring Pony". Is it a pony in the month of Spring or a pony on a spring? Apparently it's the latter, but that didn't stop it taking on a Spring motif (and performing a Crossover into REFLEC BEAT Colette -spring-).
  • Amusement Park: The theme for Pop'n Music 13 (Carnival).
  • Art Evolution:
    • The characters had somewhat cruder designs and smaller eyes with bigger pupils in the earlier games in the series. The designs as well as the eyes of the characters managed to look better overtime especially since Pop'n Music 7.
    • pop'n music Lapistoria demonstrates a shift in art style, with more anime-esque visuals than past titles.
  • Boss Rush:
    • Expert Mode (known as Course Mode in Lapistoria) allows the player to choose a set series of four songs pertaining to a certain theme, and then play them back-to-back, with a traditional Life Meter that carries over between songs and will immediately give you a Game Over when it runs out. Most courses have a theme that pertains to the 'moods' of the songs, but the HELL [Version Number] courses instead force you to run the four hardest songs introduced in the respective version.
    • peace introduces "Popperz chronicle", where instead of an original song you play a medley of the hardest songs from past installments, from 14 FEVER! to peace... but you have to play parts of their charts as well, complete with the BPM changes. This is taken up to eleven with the UPPER chart added in June 16th, 2020, which recreates the respective chart sections more faithfully, most apparent in the SILENT section.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": By default, the song wheel lists the song's unique genre instead of its title, and even the banners put more prominence to the genre. Hence, typically a song/difficulty pairing will be referred to by its genre by players (i.e. "Nadeshiko Rock EX" instead of its actual title, "Rin to shite saku hana no gotoku"; this can become especially useful to English players since many songs have titles written in Japanese), but there are exceptions. However, this practice has since been phased out: beginning on The Movie, songs can be optionally sorted by title, Sunny Park makes this the default sorting method, and beginning on Lapistoria, new songs do not have any genre listed anymore.
  • Challenge Run: Challenge Mode's many normas. Before a song, you can select up to two normas, each with their own requirements (such as getting x points or getting less than y bads). Fulfilling a norma's requirement will earn you "Challenge Points". Though not necessary to pass songs, getting enough Challenge Points will yield an extra stage.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: The BPM for "quick master" is shown as 147. However, the track's BPM actually fluctuates BPM very frequently, something that is never shown on the in-game BPM counter.
  • Crossover:
    • If a song is a remix of something from another Konami game, it'll most likely have one of the characters from that game as its song character. Examples include Vic Viper ("Gradius -Full Speed-" (Gradius) and "A Shooting Star" (Gradius II)), Afro (DDR Megamix), Simon Belmondo ("Akumajou Dracula Medley Hybrid" (Castlevania)), and Goemon ("Ganbare Goemon Medley"). Pop'n Music 15 ADVENTURE even has a song from Mitsumete Knight, "The Man From Far East". Pop'n Music 10 features a crossover within a crossover by having the theme song of The Goonies as it was presented in Konami's video game adaptation on the Famicom; the game version of Mikey is your opponent, and when you win, he replicates his old death animation.
    • In one version you can play "Break Through The Dream", complete with the characters dressing up as Simon and Kamina.
    • Not to mention Nyami & The King were playables in Konami Krazy Racers.
    • One event in Sunny Park features GUMI.
    • Umaru herself (and to a certain extent, Taihei) appears in the game, starting with éclale. She's the representative character of the opening themes from her anime.
  • Easier Than Easy: As of Sunny Park, some Easy charts use less than five buttons. Some of these charts are rated 6 or less, which on the old scale would put them at difficulty level 0 or less, turning them into this trope.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Charlotte.
  • Fake Difficulty: The usual method of Fake Difficulty used in BEMANI games (make the BPM much faster than it should be to increase the approach rate) is inverted for "MVA" (Speed Core). The song is intended to be a 540 BPM speedcore track – a figure which would have been a BEMANI series record for songs without BPM changes – but to make it easier to read, it was decreased to 270 BPM.
  • Game Over: Averted in Lapistoria; you will always get the full set of stages no matter how many of them you fail.
  • Gratuitous English: Though less than most other Bemani; song names genres are written almost exclusively in Japanese characters. Each game in the series has an announcer who talks in English; some speak it flawlessly, while some will pronounce, say, "Challenge Mode", as "charenji moodo."
    • In Adventure, if you play well enough, the announcer will say "You were cool!" that sounds more like "You waku!". Waku is the katakana spelling of wac, who is the sound director of Pop'n Music itself.
    • Don't forget about "Nice Pray!"
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • Above the "Hyper" chart difficulty is the "EX(tra)" difficulty. In older versions where EX charts exist, you can only play them on Extra Stage. In newer versions that use the eAMUSEMENT network, you need only play the Hyper chart once to unlock the same song's EX chart.
    • Lapistoria's gauge options include HARD (double damage) followed by DANGER (one Bad depletes your entire gauge).
  • High School AU: Lapistoria is a "parallel world" set in a high school setting.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • The "GOOD to BAD!!" (GOODがBADに!!) ojama will eliminate the "Good" judgement; hits that would have resulted in Goods will convert to Bads. If you play beatmania IIDX, this is basically the "Gambol Judgement Hyper" of pop'n.
      • "COOL or BAD!!" is the "Gambol Judgement Another": Now ANY judgement other than a Cool wil convert to Bad.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Enjoy, 5-button, Normal, Hyper, EX(tra) up to Tune Street'. In fantasia'', "Enjoy" is renamed to the simpler-sounding "Easy".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Averted with pop'n music through pop'n music 11.
    • However, from 12 through 20, games have a subtitle after the number.
    • Played fully straight beginning with the 21st main installment, pop'n music Sunny Park, which drop numbers altogether.
  • Interface Screw: Many of the "ojama" modifiers will do this. Some examples:
    • "Dance" (ダンス), in which the song character (or something related to the character) appears in the middle of the screen, partially blocking your view of the notes.
    • "Dark" (ダーク) will hide all non-vital interface elements, rendering about 90% of the screen dark. Though the "screw" part is debatable as having less interface elements on screen can make the notes easier to see.
    • "Lost" (ロスト) will hide combo counter and note judgement, unless you get a Bad.
    • "Trick" (トリック) will cause the wrong lane to light up when you hit a button.
    • "Panic" (パニック) will cause incorrect note judgements and combo counters to show up (including 573). Amusingly, the counter will show up even if the judgement above it displays "BAD", and the fake counter will sometimes display a combo that is higher than the max combo for the current chart.
  • Life Meter: Like in beatmania, the series uses the Groove Gauge system: You start at 22% life and need to get up to 80% or higher, although emptying the gauge in and of itself will not cause stage failure. In addition to this, the meter can change according to particular conditions and ojamas:
    • In Expert courses and standard extra stage prior to fantasia, you use a more traditional life meter. It starts out full, and you fail instantly if the meter runs out.
    • The "HELL" ojama will cause Bads to damage the Groove Gauge twice as hard.
    • The "More HELL" (もっとHELL) ojama will cause Bads to damage the Groove Gauge four times as hard.
    • Finally, the "DEATH" ojama will cause a single Bad to wipe your entire life meter. Yes, you can combine this with the "COOL or BAD!!" ojama mentioned above if you are either really good or really hate yourself.
    • Starting in Lapistoria, the gauge ojamas are removed, replaced by gauge modifiers: EASY halves the amount of life lost on a Bad, NORMAL is standard gauge behavior, HARD uses the same behavior as the HELL ojama, and DANGER uses the same behavior as the DEATH ojama.
    • Some of the hardest charts have what players call unoffically Spicy Gauges (辛ゲージ), which are much harder than the standard Groove Gauge. Basically, if a song has a chart with 1537 or more notes, it will have this gauge (Long versions do not count).
  • Meaningful Name: The title "ƒƒƒƒƒ" does not represent your reaction to how much trouble you're having with it, its actually a piano dynamic meaning, essentially "very very very very loud."
  • Metaphorically True: In Lapistoria, there is a HELL course named "Hell TUNE STREET" that ends the course with a lv38 "BabeL ~Roof Garden~" after the notorious lv49 "BabeL ~Next Story~". This seems like a farfetch...Aside that it is locked at 1x Hi-Speed and you cannot use HIDDEN or SUDDEN. Combined with the song itself having the slowest BPM in the game, the notes can become virtually impossible to hit and the massive note clusters can put massive stress on your vision. Unless you regularly deal with 1x speed modifiers, you are going to get destroyed. And the catch is the only thing difficult about it is the locked Hi-Speed option and the disabled Hid-Sud options, the chart is unaltered and as far as No-speed modifier charts go, it's quite tame. note 
  • Nintendo Hard: You really think something this cute and fluffy would be that hard? Preposterous! Any 49 or 50 on EX mode deserves such a title. Alongside beatmania IIDX, it's considered one of the hardest commercial Rhythm Games in existence, demanding a much higher level of skill than most other rhythm games in order to have a shot at the most difficult songs. The old difficulty scale goes from 1-43, but as of Sunny Park, difficulties go from 1-50. Preexisting songs have their chart ratings increased by 6, with some exceptions, which means the maximum difficulty should be 49...but a few songs, including "Schrodinger's Cat" (Toy Contemporary), "Ongaku" (Silent), and "Shounen wa Sora o Tadoru" (Murakumo), were raised by seven levels instead, to 50, to reflect how much they stand out compared to other top-tier boss songs. While there are a lot of songs rated 48 or 49, very, very few songs are rated 50. All of this in a game series intended for younger players.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • "Brand New World" is the third song produced in the "Without You Tonight" series, but its REFLEC BEAT original predecessors, "Survival Games" and "Far Away", are labeled as "Without You Tonight -II-" and "Without You Tonight -III-" because they debuted on pop'n music later.
    • Likewise, "Elemental Creation" is the most recent song in DJ YOSHITAKA's "Hard Renaissance" series, but is the first song in that series to appear in pop'n so it's simply classified as "Hard Renaissance". Earlier songs "Evans" and "JOMANDA", part of that same series, are labeled "Hard Renaissance 2" and "Hard Renaissance 3" because they were not added to pop'n until later.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Some announcers will give you a unique comment intended for failing a song with just one tick short of enough Groove Gauge to clear.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The DEATH ojama (up to Sunny Park) and DANGER gauge (Lapistoria) deplete your entire gauge upon getting a single Bad. Subverted, in that a wipeout of the gauge doesn't result in a Game Over, though you still must reach the end of the song with at least 80% of your gauge intact.
  • Only One Name: Most of the characters have only one name, with no surname. Aversions include Toru Kamikaze from 1, Hiroshi Jingu from 2, John A. Chopper from 8, Hikari Nijino from 13, and a few others.
  • Remixed Level: The remix songs are, of course, this, with the character MZD presiding over most of them. However, URA charts (introduced in 11) and UPPER charts (introduced in peace) provide already-existing songs with a new set of charts, usually more difficult than before (and adding long Pop-kuns, in the case of UPPER charts).
  • Required Spinoff Crossover:
    • "Rin to shite saku hana no gotoku" (Nadeshiko Rock) ended up being so popular that Konami ended up milking it for all its worth ... by putting it on pretty much every other Bemani series.
    • "FLOWER" (Trance Core) does the same, going as far as to also appear on DanceEvolution Arcade and Future Tomtom as well.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: "Super Mario Bros. BGM Medley" from pop'n music 14 FEVER! was not included in the PS2 port of FEVER!, for obvious reasons.
  • Scoring Points: There are two scoring systems at work:
    • The first is the song score system. On each song, you can earn a maximum of 100,000 points, and each note has a fixed number of points that is inversely proportional to the number of notes in the chart. A "COOL" will get you 100% of the note's value, a "GREAT" will get you 70%note , a "GOOD" will get you 40%note , and no points are awarded for a "BAD". In games and modes where the "COOL" judgement does not appear, "GREAT" is worth 100% and "GOOD" 20%.
    • The other is the Challenge Point system. Clearing a song will award you points equal to the song's difficulty level. In addition, you can set up to two Normas (self imposed challenges) or Ojamas (modifiers that usually take the form of an Interface Screw of some sort, or otherwise make the game more difficult) that add bonus points. Getting at least 125 points by your last stagenote  will reward you with an Extra Stage.
      • In fantasia, however, the Challenge Point system has been replaced with the new "Extra Point" system. All point values are now multiplied by 10, you now automatically get Normas for score and combo (though BAD-based Normas don't exist anymore), and you need at least 2000 points for an Extra Stage. Fortunately, if you are logged into the e-Amusement network, a fraction of your points will carry over to the next playthrough, unless you got an Extra Stage.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The controller. It's simply 9 big slappable buttons. Later games use the eAMUSEMENT keypad for navigation and options, but the core gameplay mechanics still revolve around those nine buttons. It hasn't stopped the game from being one of the most popular and long-running ones in the BEMANI series, with charts ranging from the newbie-friendly to the most limit-pushing.
  • Spin-Off:
    • pop'n stage, which is essentially a subtle clone of the Korean dance game (and DanceDanceRevolution rival) Pump It Up with the pop'n mechanics and art style. Much like Pump, the stage has ten panels, with pads in the corners and center of each side of the stage. The game is played in 6-panel (left center, top right and bottom right pads, and right center, top left and bottom right pads. otherwise known in PIU as "half-double") and 10-panel modes.
    • The Wii version (which was branded as ポップンミュージック there) and its arcade port HELLO! POP'N MUSIC, given the revamped art style and slightly different gameplay.
    • pop'n rhythmin is an iOS-exclusive spinoff that eschews the traditional lane-based gameplay in favor of touchscreen-based gameplay involving hitting on-screen notes that can be anywhere on the screen.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: Starting with Sunny Park, new pop'n games no longer officially have numbers in their title.
  • Sugar Bowl: To put it simply, this series is very, very cutesy and sweet in stylization.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • Both songs in the Percussive series have strange time signatures at one point; the first changes to 7/4 at the end, while the second is nominally in 6/8, but with skipped beats dotted around everywhere so it's impossible to tie it to one time signature.
    • ZETA ~素数の世界と超越者~ cycles its signature time between 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4. It's IDM anyway.
    • Tangeline (Swedish 2) and HEAT-BIT-HIT-BEAT (Lo-Bit Sampling) are entirely in 7/8.
  • Variable Mix: Similarly to IIDX's "Scripted Connection", "neu" (Niente) has three versions based on the chosen difficulty level; the Hyper and EX versions are, let's just say, a severe case of Mood Whiplash in comparison to Normal (which is a slower portion). The full, album version chains them into one song.

You were perfect!


Video Example(s):


Schrodinger no neko

Hey! Who put something that sounds like a snippet of The Simpsons opening in this Japanese music game?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuspiciouslySimilarSong

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