Release Date: TBA
Konami has finally started bringing their music games stateside, which means that we gaming fiends can finally experience Beatmania. I'm hoping that this will start a trend, forcing Namco to import more Taiko goodness, and Konami to bring over DrumMania and Guitar Freaks.
For those who are new to Beatmania, the game is Konami's version of deejaying. It plays like Dance Dance Revolution, but instead of using your feet, you are using your hands to hit the keys of their deejay controller, basically a turntable and seven buttons. At the Konami booth, they were showing off the seven-button version of Beatmania, although you could also opt to play with only five buttons, like the original. It was actually quite fun, and considering that I had never played it before, I did quite well on the lower-level songs. When you get to the harder modes and songs, however, it gets insanely fast and is a lot of fun to watch.
If you have ever been to an arcade and seen those crazy players on DDR, there is a similar crowd for Beatmania, and it's just amazing how quickly some of these guys' hands move! The screen goes faster than I can process, and I just go into visual overload. If I were to try playing Beatmania on the higher levels, I would be the laughing stock of the arcade (as if my performance on DDR Extreme 2 with the Eye Toy weren't bad enough). For those of you who don't want to get embarrassed in the arcades, Konami is finally bringing Beatmania, and word is that there will be a bundle package available, with the game and deejay controller.
They also provided us with headsets, and it made the deejay experience seem more realistic (all booths had it, but when playing this game, it just made it seem right). We were provided with two modes of play: regular single player, and a battle mode. After selecting the mode, you can also choose how many buttons you want to play with, five or seven, based on your level of expertise or just how large your hands are. The seven-key configuration is far harder than the five-key one, but once you get the basics down, it is fun to play.
The graphics in the game are what you would expect from this type of game: it's simple, clean, classic, and definitely sufficient. After all, Beatmania's focus is on the audio portion, not the graphics. At the E3 convention, the game only had four songs or so, and the difficulty wasn't ramped up at all. The audio is pretty good, and it really sounds like you are actually scratching and mixing the song.
As for how it compares to the arcade version, I think that it comes pretty darn close. A good amount of dials might be missing on the home version, but overall, the game keeps the real experience, and if you have played the Japanese version, it's essentially the same.
I played the game several times, and I've got to say that this game is fun, even on the home version. There should be around 50 songs with a good variety, and while it may not touch the selection that is available in arcades, it's certainly a start.
More articles about Beatmania