Taiko no Tatsujin Arcade Game Comes to DGM
This December brought us a wonderful holiday present: the donation of a Model 3 Taiko no Tatsujin arcade game plus boxes of cabinet art for different model Taiko arcade games and three boxes of 1990s gaming magazines.
We’re told that in 2002, three or four of these drum arcade games were brought to the US to see if there was a market for them. Although extremely popular in Japan, Westerners didn’t warm to the games, and no more were imported. The games went into private hands, and one of them ended up with Mark Laws, who generously donated it, along with the rest of his Taiko collection and years of carefully collected gaming magazines, to the Digital Game Museum.
This game is historically important because it represents the early stages of an important NAMCO franchise which has extended from the original arcade deployment to the Nintendo DS, PlayStations, Wii, and now mobile phones. The North American release for the Sony Playstation 2 was called Taiko: Drum Master. None of the other releases are in English. Music tracks are drawn from J-pop, anime themes, classical excerpts, original NAMCO compositions, videogame themes, and even traditional folk songs. The gameplay is challenging, using symbols and colors to show hitting the drum in different locations and with different techniques. Mark demonstrated it to us, and it was great fun to watch and hear, but it also looked really difficult.
You can see us moving the arcade cabinet here. Fortunately, it breaks down to 3 sections, since overall it has a footprint of 4′x4′ and an assembled height of 80 inches. We covered it with archival Tyvek to protect it from dust. The cabinet art, which can be seen here, had been attached to cabinets with double stick tape, and the tape residue had stuck several pieces together; these were painstakingly freed using an adhesive solvent, applied drop by drop to the affected areas. The solvent was removed using an archivally safe cleaning solution, then rinsed with purified water and dried. We still have to re-house the pieces in archival boxes which will have to be custom made because of their size.
You can play a Model 12 Taiko no Tatsujin arcade game in Las Vegas at the Gemini Casino, and there’s apparently one in southern California, too. We haven’t had time to go through the magazines yet, so there are more pleasures to come.