Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session!

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! Game Poster Image
Move to the (repetitive) beat and leave the drum behind.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There's some friendly competition added to the mix, but the bulk of the game’s focus is on learning to identify the rhythm of music and the importance of the beat.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are a few interesting cameo characters that appear throughout the game, but there’s not really any story or character development. You’re simply a drummer trying to keep up with the rhythm and flow of the various musical tracks.

Ease of Play

While it should be noted that there have been special drum controllers bundled with other games in this franchise in the past, this time around Bandai Namco skipped the specialty accessory in favor of using the DualShock 4 controller. Thankfully, the game’s basic, standard controls are relatively easy to learn, with multiple buttons and pads on the PS4 controller used to follow the beat onscreen.

Violence

There's some minor cartoonish violence occasionally during some challenges.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is a music rhythm game available on the PlayStation 4. Players follow along with onscreen prompts and try to match the rhythmic drumbeats of various musical tracks. While Drum Session! ditches the custom Taiko drum controller used in previous games, the standard controller is easy to learn while still requiring a fair bit of skill to master. Some of the challenges in the game pit players against other characters in drum battles, which does feature some very minor cartoonish violence, beating their opponents as they beat their drums. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content to be found in the game.

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What's it about?

It’s time to move to the beat of your own drum … literally with TAIKO NO TATSUJIN: DRUM SESSION! The game brings the popular Japanese arcade rhythm game to the PlayStation 4, challenging players to follow along with the beat of more than 70 different songs, including new mixes from popular animation titles like Dragon Ball Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and even Disney’s Frozen. You can get your friends together for an impromptu jam session with both co-op and versus mode or take on special guest opponents such as Pac-Man, Hatsune Miku, and Tekken’s Heihachi Mishima. You can also put your skills to the test against other players from around the world and try to reach the top of the leaderboards in a global Ranked Mode. If you hit all the right beats, you'll unlock extra goodies, including costumes, sound effects, and greetings for your customized Don-chan mascot. 

Is it any good?

Although this new installment in the popular drum franchise has lots of content, the gameplay feels a bit too repetitive to appeal to anyone but large drum fans. Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is the latest game in the franchise to bring the beat out of the arcades and into the home on the PlayStation 4, though with one glaring omission: a drum. Other games in the franchise either made use of touchscreen and motion controls or had the option of picking up a dedicated drum controller as part of a bundle. This time around, there’s no bundled (official) drum controller, meaning that fans are forced to use a combo of button and pad controls on the DualShock 4 to get their groove on. While there's a bit of a learning curve, the controls do actually work well. The problem is that it feels more like you’re literally just going through the motions of a run of the mill rhythm game versus banging out beats on a drum.

Despite this disconnect, as a rhythm-based game, there's a surprising amount of content. The selection of songs are a dream to fans of anime and J-Pop music, with songs pulled from a variety of different anime series. They even managed to sneak in a Japanese version of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. It’s a odd mix of songs that covers a wide range of styles and speeds to play. Each song has its own set of challenges, presented as a sort of Tic-Tac-Toe game card, where completing a line earns you coins to unlock cosmetic customizations for your Don-chan mascot in the game. Online play is a nice addition too, though you’re never playing against people in real-time. Instead, you play against ghost data other players have uploaded. But at least you never need to wait for someone to be matched up with you, or deal with any potential toxicity from a sore loser (or winner). Still, while there’s a lot of content in Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session!, it’s hard to ignore the repetition that comes with tapping out the same buttons the same way throughout the game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about music and music appreciation. What are some of the ways that music helps to improve our lives? What are some of the ways that games can help to teach music?

  • What are some ways that games can help to improve hand-eye coordination? How can pattern recognition help with problem solving in the real world?

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