Import Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Dororon! Youkai Daikessen!!

Recently I imported a new Japanese DS game. Not sure what it translates to, probably “Cary is a weirdo.” Taiko no Tatsujin is a music and rhythm game where you hit a Taiko drum in time with the beat. A Taiko drum is a large Japanese drum. You’ve probably seen one and never realized it. They look like giant barrels tipped on their sides. There’s no chance this game will ever come to the US, so here’s my import review of the third Taiko no Tatsujin game to appear on the Nintendo DS!

Even though I don’t know a lick of Japanese, the Taiko drum games are very import friendly. Similar to the percussion in Rock Band, you must hit the drum when icons scroll past a marker. Red dots mean you hit the center of the drum, and blue ones mean you must hit the rim, or outside of the drum. The Taiko games have appeared in arcades, as well as on PS2, PSP, and Wii. On the DS you use the stylus like a drumstick and tap the drum on the touch screen.

If this game sounds familiar to you, Taiko no Tatsujin actually did come to the US once on the PS2 under the name Taiko Drum Master. Unfortunately, it came out at the cusp of Guitar Hero’s initial popularity, and Americans would rather play rock guitar over Taiko drums, understandably. But not me! I liked the simpler controls of the Taiko game, the wider variety of song genres, and the cuter cartoony characters. Don’t get me wrong, I think games like Rock Band are great. But I try and import every region free Taiko game I can, now!

The Taiko games are super popular in Japan, though. Nintendo saw this back in the GameCube days and asked Namco to ‘Americanize’ the Taiko games for the US, and the Donkey Konga games were born. They were fun, but not near as good as the original Taiko titles. I really did like the 2-D platformer game that used the DK bongos, though: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

Anyway, the newest game on the DS is the third sequel on the handheld. Like the others, it came with two styluseses. But these are gold! Granted, they’re cheapy hollow styluses, but it’s cool they came with something extra. In the US, we’d probably have to preorder the game and pay extra to get those! I also splurged and bought a special Taiko DS stand to put my game system on while drumming, but I haven’t used it yet. I mostly bought it because I like Taiko game stuff.

The third DS game has similar game modes like the past ones. There’s the main game where you can play each song separately on Easy, Normal, Hard, and Oni levels of difficulty. The Adventure mode is an RPG this time (more on that later). The Daily Dojo is back where you can challenge harder songs every day. And of course there’s a multiplayer mode as well.

The Adventure mode in the last game was just a board game style map you would travel through and you would enter song challenges on each stop. But in this game, the Adventure Mode is a fully fledged RPG, complete with a world map (shaped like Japan), towns, random enemy encounters, experience points to level up, bosses, and the whole nine yards. I think the adventure is in the spirit world, as all the enemies you fight are cartoony versions of monsters and ghosts from Japanese myths and legends. The clever battles are like the regular Taiko game. You must whittle down their hit points by successfully hitting the drum in time, and not miss or you’ll lose hit points. Bosses will try and hinder your view of the scrolling dots as you play, like last time. The drum costumes and sounds act as your ‘weapons’ and ‘armor.’ I was worried this mode wouldn’t be very import friendly, being an RPG and all, but surprisingly, it’s really easy to figure out. Even easier than the adventure mode from last time! And if I can figure it out, anyone can!

Song List

Of course, the most important aspect of any music game is the song list, so I’m dedicating the rest of this blog to the songs on the third Taiko DS game!


I’m not going to go into this category much, as I’m not a big J-POP fan. There’s like about six songs in this category, but I’m not going to list all of them there. Some are from past Taiko games on other consoles, like “Choo Choo Train.”

One notable song in this category is called RIVER. I know it’s very wrong for me to make fun of the way Japanese people pronounced some of our English words. But I couldn’t help but chuckle at this song every time they said “River.” It sounded like they were singing a song about liver instead!

Another notable J-POP song on this category is from a fictional character: Hatsune Miku. There is a computer music program in Japan called Vocaloid, which lets you make synthesized vocals and lyrics in songs. I’m not sure how useful it is, but as Japan tends to do, Vocaloid has mascots to go along with it. One of the more popular mascots is an anime girl character named Hatsune Miku. She looks like a cute enough character. I do like her green-blue hair at least. She even has a couple of PSP music games herself. In the Taiko game, she dances on the bottom of the screen as you play. Unfortunately, the song she sings sounds like a cat getting its tail caught in a rocking chair! Oh no!


I guess the songs they couldn’t figure out which category to put them in just went under ‘variety.’

One of the songs in this category sounds like a little kid singing a Japanese folk children’s song or something. But as I listened to it, I thought to myself, “It sounds like he’s singing about a duck.” So I decided to do some research on that song. Turns out he was singing about a duck! It’s actually a commercial jingle for Aflac in Japan! Oh that crazy Aflac duck!

Another variety song, Baroque Hoedown, was familiar to me because it’s the song they played for the Disney Electrical Parade. I was lucky enough to see that parade once when I was at Disney World. It’s pretty amazing!

Another song on here, Rhythm and Police, is from a popular Japanese TV police drama that I’ve never heard of. But they have another song most Americans are probably familiar with: Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Except this one is a REALLY bad cover of it. I’m sure MJ is rolling in his grave about that.

There is an 8-bit sounding song from a Japanese chiptune band called YMCK. They seemed familiar to me because I just got finished with Katamari Forever, and they did an 8-bit remix of Gin and Wine and Red Red Roses in that game. YMCK also did the music for the super fun retro-tastic DSiWare puzzle game PictoBits! In the Taiko game, a little 8-bit guy in a suit with a slice of cake on his head dances on the bottom screen. Not sure why, but that’s what happens!

The last song in the variety category you have to unlock in a very unusual way. In Japanese McDonald’s Happy Meals, you could get a toy that makes musical noises. If you select the recording option and played the toy next to the DS microphone, it would recognize the sound and unlock a song for you! I managed to unlock this song because someone put that toy up on YouTube and I just put my DS next to my computer speaker and set the volume to loud! And it actually worked! What’s funny is the song you unlock is a McDonald’s Japanese commercial jingle! The backdrop has a McDonald’s restaurant and Taiko characters in McDonald’s uniforms! It’s funny at the end when the Japanese kids say “I’m Lovin’ It!”


I’m just mostly going to list these songs. You’d know ‘em if you heard ‘em.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Otherwise known as Ode to Joy. So now they expect me to know Japanese AND German? Actually I did take German in high school and college, but it’s hard to understand them singing it)

When the Saints Go Marching In (Some of the classical pieces here are remixes. This one has awful Japanese rapping in it. Ugh. It was also in a few other Taiko games, like one on the PSP.)

Turkish March

Hungarian Dances No.5

Symphonic Medley 1 (This one has Debussy’s Golliwog’s Cakewalk. I used to could play it on the piano and we also performed it when I was in band at school. Real fun song to play, unfortunate name choice, though.)

O Vreneli


Funiculi Funicula (When you hear this song, you’ll think of a stereotypical Italian guy making pizza)

Le Tombeau de Couperin

Video Games

Usually these Taiko games have a selection of songs from other Namco classics. Every now and then they have game songs from other companies (like Super Mario Bros.) But it’s all Namco in this DS game.

One of the songs is an orchestrated version of the main theme from Legend of Valkyrie. Yay! I love that game and its characters and music, and I just eat orchestrated music up!

One of the most famous Taiko songs is from The Genji and Heike Clans, and the song is known for being really challenging to play! Well this version of KAGYUKIYO is slowed to one half the speed of the original, but it’s still as hard as ever!

Another song is from Knuckle Heads. It was a 2-D fighter Namco made back when everyone had to have a me-too Street Fighter rip-off. Knuckle Heads was more humorous and had a game show theme. And I’ve only seen it in an arcade once. And there’s a song from Metal Hawk, a vertically scrolling shooter with a helicopter.

As always, these Taiko games have to have a Idolmaster song in it. I wish I knew what KIND of games the Idolmaster titles are. I know they’re about managing a group of teen pop star anime girl idols (which is rather disturbing) but are they music games or what? As a Namco fan, I kind of want to know, but at the same time, I don’t think I really want to find out.

A couple of Namco songs on here I’m not so familiar with. One is from a game called Murai Ninja, and another is from Tank! Tank! Tank!, which looks like a sillier version of Tokyo Wars.

I like to look for Namco game references in their other titles. In this game, you can dress up your drum as Mappy or make the side of the drum look like the Prince’s head from Katamari Damacy!

Namco Original

Most of the songs in this category you unlock by playing the RPG mode. Some of the bosses’ song are from past Taiko games and are from other Namco games, like Rally-X and Youkai Douchuuki, which is a fitting song for the theme of this game.


And finally is a selection of songs form popular Japanese anime cartoons. I’m not much into anime, so if I gloss over a few of these songs, please fill me in on any info about them in the comments section. Even though I’m not into anime, I do enjoy learning new things about it!

The first song is from Space Battleship Yamato. It sounded REAL familiar to me at first, until it donned on me, “Holy crap, this is the song from Star Blazers!” I used to watch that one when I was a little bitty kid. Along with Voltron and Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers introduced me to anime, really.

Next is “Sign” from Naruto Shippuden. Now I know what Naruto is, but I don’t know what “Shippuden” is. I don’t even think I can SAY that word! I’ve had to review a few Naruto games in my time, and all I can say is, boy that main character sure is annoying!

There are a few songs from anime I’ve never even heard of, so I’m just going to list them here and if you want to fill me in on them, go right ahead. We have WBX from Kamen Rider, Tensou Sentai Goseiger, and Heart Catch PreCure. There’s also a song from Crayon Shin-Chan, but at least I know what that main character looks like. And there is another Doraemon song, probably from one of the movies. Yeah, I do know what Doraemon is, he’s pretty popular over there and has been for a long time! And there’s also a song from the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl cartoon, too.

And finally, two songs from anime I do know a lot about. Cartoons from Studio Ghibli! Yay! One is the song from My Neighbor Totoro (loved the Toy Story 3 cameo), and the other is the dopey credits theme from Ponyo (I still liked that movie, though).

Taiko Credits and Conclusions

Before I finish this review, I do have to give credit where credit is due. First I’d like to thank National Console Support’s customer service department. ( I either import games from NCSX or Play-Asia, but NCSX customer service won out this time because they were able to tell me when more Taiko games would be in stock so I could order it. I’d also like to thank some of the fine folks on the GameFaqs message board and Wikipedia, where I got some of the info on the songs and how to unlock the McDonald’s stuff!

And that’s all for my long-winded review! In the comments section, feel free to fill me in on any info on the anime songs or whatever you know more about, and share your Taiko love as well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to go eat at McDonald’s and buy Aflac insurance. Must…obey…Taiko…drum…

And yes I really do have a plush Taiko drum hat. That is me in that picture, and I am that much of a Taiko game freak! –Cary

7 Responses to “Import Game Review: Taiko no Tatsujin DS: Dororon! Youkai Daikessen!!”

  1. Just FYI, Cary, Naruto Shippuden is the second…part of Naruto (I want to say season, but that’s not the right word). It’s like what DBZ is to the original Dragon Ball, a follow-up to the original anime/manga where the story jumps ahead by about 3 years. I don’t know what the word “Shippuden” itself means though.

  2. Well at least they didn’t call it ‘Naruto Z.’

  3. Laughed when I heard this on How I met you mother. Googled and found it. Now everytime I hear it, reminds me of Ted and Marshall being silly in the fiero. Thank You :D.

  4. What is the point of revewing a game we will never buy…

  5. That’s a good point. I guess I thought people might enjoy reading about a game they won’t see in the US.

    What’s the point of reviewing Halo? I’ll never buy it. 🙂 –Cary

  6. Oh yes I love Vocaloid~ whereas my brother will hate me if I play it. importing time oh joy~

  7. hey i do need some help!

    i’ve stuck to the snowing town for a while (the 12th town in the map) because i can’t get in the house (the green kimono lady haven’t let me come in her house)

    so, what costume i have to wear to get my taiko in that house

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