Rhythm Games – Taiko no Tatsujin (2001)

Rhythm Games: Taiko no Tatsujin

Hoping to capitalize on the huge Japanese success of their arcade game, Taiko No Tatsujin (2001), Namco has made several attempts to succeed with drum based rhythm games in the Western market.

Taiko is playable by one or two players. The arcade cabinet includes two traditional Japanese taiko drums, each with a pair of sticks. The drums distinguish between rim hits and face hits, and the game generally requires rapid strings of single rim or face hits punctuated by the occasional double hit. In addition to the arcade game, there have been numerous releases on console and handheld systems, often with a miniature drum controller called the TaTaCon.

In 2002, several Taiko arcade machines were brought to US arcades to see if the machine would prove popular, but it did not. One was donated to the Digital Game Museum by a collector.

Donkey Konga, released in Japan in 2003 and the US in 2004, is a Taiko spinoff based on the Donkey Kong series. Its success led to a series of three games, although only the first two were brought to Western markets. At roughly the same time as Donkey Konga’s US release, Namco used their PlayStation 2 Taiko engine to bring Taiko to the United States as Taiko: Drum Master. This was the final attempt to take Taiko itself to the United States and was also unsuccessful.

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Gift of Carble Cheung, 2012.013.007