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Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! Review

Official Score

Overall - 60%


Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! has rock-solid drumming mechanics and a fair difficulty curve, but the amount of DLC available at launch is a little extreme. Buyer beware - this is one game that will cost completionists a pretty penny.

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Fresh from the arcade scene, Bandai Namco’s cult classic Taiko no Tatsujin series has made its way to the PlayStation 4 in Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! Featuring more than 70 songs, score-based gameplay, and a lively mascot named Don-chan, does this rhythm game deserve a drumroll?

Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! Review

Much like the other entries of the series, the goal of Drum Session! is simple – hit the notes to the beat of the song, get a high combo, and fill the Soul gauge with as few mistakes as possible. Notes come in two flavors – red ones require players to hit the face of the drum, while blue notes require players to hit the rim. There are some wrinkles that add complexity – giant notes require the use of two drumsticks, while rolling notes, balloons, and mallets require a rapid-fire drumroll.

It can get surprisingly complex at the higher difficulty levels, with songs ranked from 1-10 stars. Harder songs are a flurry of red and blue circles, requiring steady hands and a calm mind. It’s nothing too different from the other entries – think of this as more of a song pack – but this is one case where there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. For those without a drum controller, there are three different button configurations that can be mapped to the DualShock controller. This works far better than you’d expect it to, and can actually be seen as the preferred way to play at higher difficulty settings.

The more than 70 songs included in the base game are what you would expect from the series. Namco Originals are joined by Vocaloid melodies, Disney tracks from Frozen and Zootopia, anime tunes (including Neon Genesis Evangelion and Kemono Friends), game OSTs (including The iDOLM@STER and Tales of Berseria), and even some classical songs for good measure. It skews on the side of pop, but the intended audience for the game will no doubt find something they enjoy.

Taiko no Tatsujin Drum Session - Gamers Heroes

It’s just a shame that the game doubles down on its DLC. Drum Session! launched stateside on November 2, and there are already more than 80 songs that can be purchased via DLC. Though each song only costs $1.49, it can quickly add up for those who would like the complete package. The fact that the number of downloadable songs outnumbers the number of songs in the base game is a slap to the face, especially when compared to more robust rhythm games like SEGA’s Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone.

Each song comes with a bingo card that can be completed by fulfilling certain objectives. Those that are able to accomplish tasks like getting a high score above a certain amount or racking up a set combo will be able to get stamps on the card. Complete a row in this 3×3 grid, and players will be rewarded with a DON coin that can be exchanged for a Treasure Box. Though we appreciate this incentive to play, Treasure Boxes are essentially loot boxes that are required to unlock titles and cosmetics. No real-world money is exchanged, but we would have appreciated the ability to purchase these items outright, especially when considering the amount that can be unlocked.

Those who want to take the battle against others can enjoy Drum Sessions!’ Ranked Mode. Rather than face opponents live, players take on Ghost data, with the winning drummer determined by the final score. We appreciate this approach, as we were able to find matches in seconds.

Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! has rock-solid drumming mechanics and a fair difficulty curve, but the amount of DLC available at launch is a little extreme. Buyer beware – this is one game that will cost completionists a pretty penny.

This review of Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! was done on PlayStation 4. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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