Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 (NDS, Import) – Review

Ouendan 2 - CoverWith the success of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!  in both the Japanese market as well as an import title to English parts of the world, iNIS, the developer of the game, worked with Nintendo to bring Elite Beat Agents to the Western world based on the same gameplay and approach.  It comes as no surprise then that iNIS expanded upon the improvements made in Elite Beat Agents and applied those to the sequel to Ouendan, called Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 (henceforth referred to as Ouendan 2).  The game is just as fun as both predecessors, a notch more difficult, and definitely shows the the series still has good legs despite the rather simple concept.

Story: A

As with both Ouendan and EBA, the individual stories range from the more mundane (someone trying to get over writer’s block, someone trying to impress his bosses to get ahead) to the somewhat odd (a young werewolf trying not to “wolf” out while on a date, a shoe salesmen trying to make sales to aliens), to the world-threatening conclusion of the sun going cold and swallowing the Earth into another ice age. And as before, the Ouendan squad is there to help up to cheer people on to complete their goals, but now they have competition, as a rival Ouendan squad is on the scene, and the two rival squads split the city in a type of gang rivalry. While you play half the stories as one squad and the other half as the other, this distinction has no effect on gameplay, it only helps to serve the oddity that is Ouendan 2. Those that have played Ouendan will recognize characters from the past, and as with that game, there’s also plenty of in-story crossovers of characters.

Ouendan 2 - GameplayGameplay: A+

Ouendan 2 is best thought of as a direct sequel in story from Ouendan, but in gameplay from Elite Beat Agents.

The core game is unchanged: as Japanese pop music plays, you need to tap on colored, numbered markers in time with the music to keep the cheer going. Some markers include sections you need to drag long with the stylus, and at other times, you’ll need to spin a wheel a certain rate. Failure to tap in rhythm hurts your cheer rating, and should it drop to zero, you’ve failed the mission though you can restart it again. Points are scored for how on-beat your tapping was, and multiplied by how many consecutive hits that you’ve made to that point.

As you tap, the top screen shows the story’s character(s) performing some action, with the action being more furious and beneficial the better you keep the beat. Meanwhile, your Ouendan squad is shown dancing to the music on the background of the touchscreen, though if you do badly enough, they’ll tire and gives you a quick visual indicator of how badly you’re doing. At fixed points in the music, you’ll get a respite while a mini-scene plays out. Should your cheer be going well, the result will be positive, while a bad performance will lead to a negative result; ultimately, you want to keep the cheer up strong throughout the song to get all the best possible results and a high score.

Ouendan 2 - Multiplayer modeFrom the standpoint of the core gameplay, the primary difference to me is that the game feels a bit more difficult, and may be more difficult in the last few songs for each of the 4 difficulty levels compared to either Ouendan or EBA. That is, the first 4 or 5 songs of the 19 available are about as difficult as the mid-songs for the same difficulty levels in the previous games, and they only get harder from there. While the beat patterns are pretty straight forward, there’s a lot crisscrossing paths when rapid-fire notes come up that can be confusing, along with more spinner action that occurs in the middle of a phrase and not right before one of the break points. However, this also makes the game a bit more forgiving; the loss of the cheer meter due to missing a single note can be made up through sections where the beat patterns are regular or repeated where you can nail the notes easily. In the end, at least through both Medium and Hard levels, I felt a lot more challenged than either of the previous games.

As noted, the gameplay gains new features through what was introduced by Elite Beat Agents, and adds even more. You can save any successful replay of a song (regardless of difficulty) as ghost data to use for a verse mode.  There are more statistics you can look through when you complete a song as well.  The game supports wifi multiplayer as well as playing against saved ghost data, and 3 additional songs become unlocked as you complete the game.  You can also play in a mode where you can disable the circles around the target markers which can make the game extremely tough but challenging.

Value/Replayability: A*

With four different difficulty levels and multiplayer modes, the game is just like Guitar Hero in that you’ll likely want to come back and keep trying to clear the higher difficulty levels or improve your score on others, or just to play to watch the skits and listen to the music.   Vs Ghost mode is definitely a helpful feature to have to keep trying to beat your own scores on the game.  I note that I based the value as if it were a regularly priced DS cart; obviously being an import, it will cost more for those outside of Japan.

Graphics: A

The artwork is the same as both Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents.  The game still works with having the dancing 3D characters on the touch screen being visible but not distracting.

Sound: A-

Of course, all the music is j-pop, some which have English bits in them, but for the most part, this music was all unrecognizable to me.  Despite that, it’s easy to get into the groove of the songs and to quickly see how they would work with the patterns.  The music feels just a bit more mainstream in that there’s little variation in beat patterns with the song as there was in Ouendan. But regardless, all the music tracks sounded appropriate for the game.

Overall: A

Importing Ouendan 2 may be a bit pricing ($50 with shipping and handling), but if you’re a fan of the first game, this one is that and just a bit more.  If you’ve not played the first Ouendan but have played and enjoyed Elite Beat Agents, and at least have a basic idea of Japanese culture, it’s definitely worth your time to look into acquiring both games, though there’s no strong need to play the first Ouendan before attempting Ouendan 2.

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