Gitaroo Man Video Game Review

Gitaroo Man for the PS2
Gitaroo Man for the PS2

Prepare yourself for an intense button mashing and brain bending battle as you turn on your playstation 2. Gitaroo Man, a music game originally created in Japan, has turned heads when it was released in America (both for the PS2 and the PSP). Koei has released an innovative, quick paced game that knocks down new doors in rythm based games.

A Quick Backstory:

Gitaroo man is a game focused around U-1 (The phoenetic sound of the Japanse name Yuichi), and his faithful dog, Puma. As you are taught how to play the guitar by Puma, you find out that you are the lengendary hero of planet Gitaroo, making you the target of interest to a handful of bad guys that want to battle. Your weapon is none other than your faithful guitar, and a well armored Puma of course.

Charge Phase
Charge Phase

Battle/Controls:

Gitaroo Man relies on simple reflexes as the basis of the gameplay, but a good amount of skill is required to master some songs. U-1 has to battle it out one-on-one with numerous foes. In these battles, you must inflict damage on the enemy with your guitar by following the on screen prompts and button combinations (that follow the music of course). Most of the battles in the game are broken up into 3 "phases" that are usually in the order of: charge, battle, and final. In the charge phase, you must play along with the song (only riffs) to raise your life bar, which is on the top left corner of the screen. The charge phase sometimes occurs twice. Next, the battle phase, you can inflict damage on the opponent by performing the button combos and riffs successfully. You can also lose health for missing riffs. Lastly, the final stage is reached when you damage the enemy's life bar almost to zero, and it flashes red. In this part, there are a series of complicated riffs that you must play through to defeat the enemy. I you miss these riffs, you are damaged.

Now, the riffs that I am talking about are long lines that move inward into the dot in the middle of the screen, and can approach from any angle. To play this, you must move the analog stick to the right direction of the incoming riff, and push and hold the "O" button to exeute it. Timing is key here, because the length of the riff determines how ling the button is held (refer to the Charge picture). Note, you must hold the analog stick in the direction that the riff is coming from. Next, button cues will fly from the 4 edges of the screen towards the center, and you must his the appropriate button when it hits the middles of the screen. Seems simple enough right?

Graphics:

Gitaroo Man has a slew of characters (both human and......something else) that are animated to look like a three dimensional Japanese cartoon. The characters themselves and the backgrounds have quite a good bit of detail, as each level is colorful and expansive. The characters facial features however, only have about 4 or 5 different expressions (but that's being picky). The battle section of the game is filled with chaos as bright colors fly across your screen, making it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. In battle mode, the attacks and blocks of the characters are entertaining and can distract you from the task at hand. A very cool aspect of the animation is that your character moves his guitar in the direction that you are moving the controls.

Soundtrack:

The songs that are incorporated into every battle are very catchy. Coil, a Japanese based music group was contracted to develop the soundtrack for this game, and they did a stellar job. Even though there are only twelve songs throughout the entire game, they range from laid back jazz to fast paced J-rock, and there is an occasional acoustic solo in there. I guess that the quality of these songs make up for the lack of quantity, or they may be a teaser to (hopefully) an anticipated sequel.

Difficulty:

The concept and rythms are easy to ppick up on, but get increasingly difficult every step of the way. Some songs have gruelling attack portions, and almost impossible final riffs. It is fun however, to master the art of being a Guitaroo Man hero, and I never found myself becoming frustrated.

Level 2

Replay?

the replay value is very high because the songs are never ending fun, and I am still striving to obtain a perfect score on one of them. The PSP version also has a two player feature which is quite addictive.

Wrap-up:

Pros:

  • Entertaining songs
  • quirky characters

  • intense brain bending battles
  • mentally stimulating

Cons:

  • Not enough songs
  • Not very many aspects of play

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