Taiko no Tatsujin* (also known as Taiko Drum Master for a while) is a series of rhythm games created by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The series started in 2001 as an Arcade Game; eventually console versions were released for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, 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 home console installments include a smaller drum-controller called the Tatacon, but the handheld versions rely on analogue controls (although the player can use the touch screen as a 'drum' in the DS and 3DS versions)
Taiko no Tatsujin has many, many characters, a wide range of songs, and a wider range of difficulty, shown by the infamous Oni difficulty.note This is part of its appeal, as casual gamers can handle the easier difficulties, while veterans can challenge themselves with Oni/Extreme. As mentioned above, the game is available on a very wide variety of platforms, and is perhaps the closest a Rhythm Game has ever gotten to being Port Overdosed.
Games in the series include:
- 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 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. Games include Taiko no Tatsujin (commonly referred to as Taiko 0 to differentiate it from the first game), Taiko no Tatsujin: KATSU-DON version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Sorairo Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Momoiro Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Kimidori Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Murasaki Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: White Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Red Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Yellow Version, Taiko no Tatsujin: Blue Version and Taiko no Tatsujin: Green Version.
- The fourth and current generation series, running on the lower-spec version of the Namco System BNA1 board, featuring overhauls from both software and hardware side of things. Overhauled song selection screen, a option to change note speed (which is previously exclusive to console releases), running on the true 120hz monitor and major song genre shuffles. Also notable for being the first generation to update the scoring systemnote . The first game in the fourth generation is, yet again, simiply called Taiko no Tatsujin (commonly referred to as Nijiiro Version to differentiate it from the first game and the 2011 reboot).
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 no Tatsujin: TAIKO DRUM MASTER / Taiko Drum Master (2004). The first game to get a Western release, and the only localized game to use a Market-Based Title. Notable for having mostly Western tracks in the setlist, even in the Japanese version.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Tobikkiri! Anime Special (2005). Another anime Licensed Game.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Wai Wai Happy! Rokudaime (2005). Introduced the Perfect 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb (2012). The first handheld game to use third-generation graphics.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Don to Katsu no Jikuu Daibouken (2014). The first handheld game on Nintendo platform to features DLC songs. Localized in Rhythmic Adventure Pack as Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure 1.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Dokodon! Mystery Adventure (2016) - Localized in Rhythmic Adventure Pack as Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure 2.
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.
- Taiko no Tatsujin Plus: Shinkyoku Tori Houdai! - A port of Taiko no Tatsujin Plus for Android, but lacks the one-time paid song packs the iOS version has and relies on subscription-based service.
Nintendo Wii U
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Wii U Version! (2013). The first console game to use 3rd generation graphics, and also the first console game to feature DLC songs.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Tokumori! (2014)
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Atsumete Tomodachi Daisakusen! (2015). The first Taiko no Tatsujin game to not have Don as the main character in the Story mode as it had Katsu as the main character instead.
Sony Playstation Vita
- Taiko no Tatsujin: V Version (2015). The first Taiko game on Sony platform to have 3rd generation graphics, scoring and navigation. Introduced the Spartan modifier.
Sony Playstation 4
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Session de Dodon ga Don! / Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session (2017). The first Taiko no Tatsujin game with overhauled graphics UI and introduced the online-only ghosted session mode and offline-only guest session mode. Also the first console Taiko since 2004's Taiko Drum Master to get an English release and the first localized game to use the Taiko no Tatsujin name, with it and the Drum 'n' Fun! launching in the West on the same day.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Nintendo Switch Version / Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun! (2018). Lets you use the Joy-Con controllers as drumsticks and has a selection of multiplayer minigames. Its localized version was released in the West alongside Drum Session on the same day.
- Taiko no Tatsujin: Dokodon RPG Pack! / Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack (2020) - A Compilation Re-release port of Jikuu Daibouken and Mystery Adventure! with six new songsnote . Marks the first localizations of the Taiko 3DS games, with the individual games themselves being retitled as simply "Rhythmic Adventure 1" and "Rhythmic Adventure 2" respectively.
- Donkey Konga Series - A rhythm game series developed by Namco in collaboration with Nintendo and based on the Donkey Kong franchise, Donkey Konga is pretty much a Taiko game in all but name. Features three installments, with the third game being Japan-exclusive.
- Yakuza 5 (2012) - Kiryu can access Taiko arcade machines to play a heavily stripped-down version of the 2nd Generation arcade game as a minigame. Features three songs with two difficulties per song and Kiryu doing the narration instead of Don-chan. Interestingly, the localized version of Yakuza 5 still uses the Taiko Drum Master name and recycles the logo of the PS2 Taiko Drum Master game.
The franchise provides examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight: Katsu in Atsumete Tomodachi Daisakusen!.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Some outfits are obtainable by purchase from Reward Shop and completing Don Challenge in arcade Taiko games. Some are obtainable by playing certain songs, such as this◊ one in White Version.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Don and Katsu Wada are living taiko drums.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Console releases from Session de Dodon ga Don! onward come with localized versions packed in from the get-go and swap to its respective language counterpart if played in a foreign language console (defaulting to English if the language isn't supported), which makes imported games much more accessible.
- 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.
- Shin-Uchi Mode originally debuted as a secret mode in Taiko 14 that was only accessible with a Cheat Code, but it was popular enough with players to become an official ruleset for competitive Taiko.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The motion controls in Drum 'n' Fun. The Joy-Cons simulate the feeling of using a taiko drum well and it's fun to use real motions like with the arcade versions and the drum controllers. However, the motion detection is highly sensitive to any form of movement (necessitating not moving any part of your body beside your hands) and the detection for katsu notes is spotty at best, which can cause the player to miss notes due to factors out of their control.
- Big Bad: Dr. Waruru from Dodon~! to Nidaime! is responsible for the creation of the Waru Robots that wreak havoc on the festival.
- Big Eater: Don and Katsu love food, and most of the minigames in the Taiko no Tatsujin series involves food.
- Boss Battle: Present in the titles with an RPG Elements story mode. Bosses usually include extra gimmicks not present in standard mook fights such as unique interferences and have more bloated health.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Alumi from Dodon~! to Nidaime! is brainwashed by her creator, Dr. Waruru, into wreaking havoc on the festival and fighting her friends. Don manages to bring her back to her senses, but she stops functioning as a result of her defeat.
- Butt-Monkey: Kat-Chan. It even reached to a point where everybody else (including Don) unknowingly left him behind while theyre going to Hawaii!
- Classic Cheat Code:
- Most versions of the arcade game have Oni/Extreme difficulty as a secret unlockable difficulty by hitting the left/right rim ten times on a specific menu. Newer versions of the arcade game allow you to keep Oni/Extreme unlocked permanently if you have a Banapassport and clear one song on Oni/Extreme difficulty, while most console versions either unlock it another way or just have it open from the outset.
- Taiko 14 also allows you to use the same cheat code on the title screen to unlock the hidden Shin-Uchi Mode, which bases scoring only on note input timing. Newer 3rd Generation versions and newer console versions have Shin-Uchi Mode accessible as a default mod instead.
- Many songs from The Idolmaster have been featured, dating back all the way to the arcade version's release. In fact, the PS Vita game THE iDOLM@STER: Must Songs is basically Taiko no Tatsujin: THE iDOLM@STER Edition.
- 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.
- Don-chan is playable in Mario Kart Arcade GP DX the third in a series of Mario Kart Arcade games developed by Namco. He also cameos as one of Pac-Man's many Namco Shout Outs in his playable appearance in Super Smash Bros. for WiiU / 3DS.
- The Tenkaichi otoge sai Zenkoku issei nintei taikai event sees Taiko no Tatsujin Kimidori ver. receiving crossovers from other developers' rhythm games:
- Many songs from Yo-Kai Watch was added to the rhythm game through several arcade updates and conosle releases, which also includes an appearance by Nate and several other Yo-Kai, and Jibanyan himself appears as a recruitable battle member in Don to Katsu no Jikuu Daibouken and Dokodon! Mystery Adventure. In exchange, Don-Chan was made a guest character in Yo-Kai Watch 2 and Yo-kai Watch 3.
- In addition to Jibanyan mentioned above, Don to Katsu no Jikuu Daibouken also includes few guest characters as battle members, including Funassyi and Mon and Hun.
- While V Version only has original characters as battle members, guest characters appear as either support, costumes, or deathblow in the game's story mode. This includes Reiko Nagase, Kamata SYNCI, Saul, Gordon, Propa, Propaganda Idols, Gumi, IA, ASF-X Shinden II, Adol Christin, Rean Schwarzer, Kazuya Mishima, Emilie De Rochefort, Koro-Sensei and others
- Dokodon! Mystery Adventure features a wide variety of guest characters in its RPG mode, including Kirby and King Dedede, Phoenix Wright, Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, Sakuya Izayoi and others, with Jibanyan and Koro-Sensei making return as a battle member and support respectively from previous installments.
- Drum Session! features guest characters for selected songs that has guess session mode. This includes Hatsune Miku, Heihachi Mishima, Hello Kitty, Doraemon and Pac-Man.
- Both Drum Session! and Drum 'n' Fun! has an Undertale DLC pack that contains "MEGALOVANIA", "Hopes and Dreams", and "Heartache".
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The way difficulty ratings work in this series is different from many other rhythm games with difficulty scales. Whereas rating values are on a single scale in many other music games (for example, song A may have a Normal chart rated 4 and Hard chart rated 5, and song B may have a Normal chart rated 6 and Hard chart rated 8; song B's Normal thus is harder than song A's Hard), the difficulty rating shown on each chart is an indicator of difficulty relative to other songs on the same difficulty. For example, song A may have a Normal chart rated 5 and song B may have a Hard chart rated 4; song B's Hard chart will still be harder than song A's Normal. Inexperienced players who have played other music games may thus try that Hard 5* chart, assuming it to be about as hard as a Normal 5* chart, only to get bodied. This also means that you will frequently encounter songs where the ratings from easiest difficulty level to hardest will not necessarily go from lowest number to highest.
- Defeat Means Friendship: The Dokon-Dan (from DS 2) and the Waru-Mekkas (from Wii 2) becomes so in their respective games' ending sequence.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Donkey Konga is basically Taiko but with a Donkey Kong-themed paint job and the drum replaced with a pair of bongos.
- Dynamic Difficulty: Some charts have Diverge notes, in which the chart will switch to one of two different forks depending on your performance so far.
- Easter Egg: The chart for "Hopes and Dreams" has a unique Divergent Chart where not hitting any notes at all before the Divergence point (thereby mimicking a "pacifist" run) triggers the Professional variation, whose notes spells out key lines from the True Pacifist Route of Undertale in binary. The lines are also different depending on the chart difficulty.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Tellu from Dodon~! to Nidaime! is one of the Waru Robots that wreak havoc on the festival by order of their creator, Dr. Waruru. When defeated, however, she seems glad to see her estranged sister, Alumi, alive.
- Excuse Plot: Most of the "Campaign" modes from the newer console versions have it to justify beating stuff up with taiko drumming.
- The Flatwoods Monster: The Flatwoods Monster, simply called Flatwoods, is an enemy that debuts in Chapter 5 of Taiko no Tatsujin: Dokodon! Mystery Adventure, which takes place at the South Pole. It voluntarily becomes one of the player's units.
- 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.
- Inconsistent Dub: Don's name has been translated as "Don", "DON-CHAN", "DON-chan", and "Don Chan". In Japan, he's "Don-chan".
- 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.
- Keet: Both Don and Katsu.
- 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 installment is named Meccha! Taiko no Tatsujin DS: 7-tsu no Shima no Daibouken
- Loot Boxes: Drum Session has a non-Microtransaction-based variant in the form of Treasure Boxes. Treasure Boxes can be bought with the in-game currency DON Coins, which are earned from BINGO Cards, Sessions, playing online, and completing the Minigame Credits. Everything you can get from Treasure Boxes is cosmetics to deck out Don-chan and your profile, but there's a rare chance that you'll get absolutely nothing from a Treasure Box.
- Market-Based Title: The one PS2 game that got released in the West is called Taiko Drum Master. Averted with the Switch and PS4 versions, which just use the Taiko no Tatsujin name.
- Mission-Pack Sequel: While pretty unavoidable due to the nature of being a long-running rhythm game franchise, several of the console ports at least make an attempt to avert it to some degree by having different story modes with RPG Elements.
- 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/Extreme, however...hoo boy. There's also the matter of having to learn how to hold the sticks properly, as an improper technique can make charts harder than they're supposed to be and blister your fingers.
- Non-Indicative Difficulty: The star difficulty can be somewhat off sometimes. For example, Bolero is 5* on Normal and 7* on Oni/Extreme, although those difficulties are too high (Bolero on 2x speed is arguably one of the easiest Oni/Extreme songs in the DS version, arguably as easy as a typical 2-4* song) and Tonari no Totoro is 5* on Oni/Extreme when it is really like a 5* on Hard. On the other hand, some songs should have more stars, such as Go Go Kitchen on normal (it is 5*, but is more like 7*).
- One-Hit Point Wonder: The Perfect mod. You miss once, you fail the stage. The similar Spartan mod instantly restarts the song if you miss a note, which makes it easier to retry for full combos.
- 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. 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.
- RPG Elements: Some of the newer games have a "Campaign" mode that utilizes RPG-based mechanics and involves battling monsters and various kinds of enemies via taiko drumming. Cosmetics you collect inside and outside the campaign mode can be equipped to Don-chan and Katsu-chan to modify their stats and give them abilities. Certain games like V Version have additional mechanics that also modify characters and combat.
- Score Multiplier: One of the key elements to the scoring system of Taiko is how much emphasis it places in maintaining your combo. As your combo count rises, the amount of points dispensed for each individual hit increases, and you also get a massive amount of bonus points at every 100 Combo threshold. Losing your combo severely impacts your score, making it extremely difficult to get high scores if you mess up even once. This is averted with the "Shin-Uchi" scoring system that's available as an option in later games, where notes are worth fixed amounts of points, although you can still go over 1,000,000 points by hitting the yellow notes.
- 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).
- Sir Cameos-a-Lot: Don-chan has appeared in various games including Mario Kart, Monster Rancher, Tekken, and Yo-Kai Watch.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- 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
- Theme Naming: The Waru Robots from Dodon~! to Nidaime! are named after chemical elements: Antimon (antimony), Yttrium, Gallium, Tantal (tantalum), Germa (germanium), Tungsten, Tellu (tellurium), and Alumi (aluminium).
- 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.
- Virtual Paper Doll: The player's respective Don-Chans can be customized extensively with different colors, patterns, and outfits.
- Variable Mix: "Songs" like this are playable in the series.
- Verbal Tic:
- Don and Katsu Wada add "-don" and "-kat" to their respective sentences.
- Alumi from Dodon~! to Nidaime! adds "-nora" or "-ro" to her sentences.
- Video Game 3 D Leap: As of Drum Session and 4th Gen, Don and Katsu are rendered in 3D. The games are still the same, however.
- Villainous Friendship: Tellu from Dodon~! to Nidaime! is one of the Waru Robots that wreak havoc on the festival by order of their creator, Dr. Waruru. It's implied that she used to be friends with her sister, Alumi, before the latter suffered from amnesia.
- Widget Series: Absolutely everything that appears in the game is deeply-entrenched in Japanese culture, in both classic and modern sense.