Rhythm game fans are in luck because Taiko no Tatsujin is finally back in the west with a couple of brand new games.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! for PS4 just released alongside the Nintendo Switch game Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun! and both games offer some of the most enjoyable rhythm game experiences that you can play on a console. Considering I reviewed the Switch game just a matter of hours ago, please read my Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun! review if you'd like to learn more about the core gameplay and what the differences between the two games are. In this review, I'll focus on what's unique to Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! in an effort to avoid repeating myself. For starters, this PlayStation 4 version can either use button controls or the drum controller which isn't even available in the west as of writing this. I wish there were options to use the PlayStation Move controllers as well as the DualShock 4's touchpad although the button controls certainly do the trick.
As with Drum 'n' Fun, Drum Session features fantastic visuals and an incredible selection of songs. The exact same music categories are featured here but the collection of tracks is indeed different. Some notable songs here include Let It Go from Frozen, Try Everything from Zootopia, a couple Hatsune Miku tracks, a cute Hello Kitty song featuring the kitty herself, the viral novelty song Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, more Touhou Project tunes, and a medley of Tales of Berseria songs. One awesome feature is that on top of being able to play with a friend in local multiplayer, you can also challenge online ghosts as well as upload your own ghost data. Sure, this isn't as cool as a fully featured online component but it's pretty close as it's great fun to challenge your online friends' ghosts.
Unlike the somewhat barebones Taiko Mode in Drum 'n' Fun, Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! features rewarding challenges and unlockables. After completing a song, you can see your score but what's even cooler is that you can fill out a Bingo card that contains 9 achievements specific to the song. As soon as you complete a row, column, or diagonal, you're granted 1 Don Coin. These coins can be redeemed to open Treasure Boxes that contain goodies such as items that you can use to dress up your taiko drum in the Customization Room. Making your character your own is an exceptional feature as it'll be featured online along with any titles and greetings that you set. Plus, playing alongside Mini Characters like Hello Kitty and Pac-Man is quite nifty and you can even make the drum sound like farts.
Although the Bingo cards and customization options are awesome, Drum Session unfortunately doesn't include any mini-games. That being said, it's much more focused on the main Taiko Mode which, let's face it, is a lot more fun. Anyway, I should clarify something that I didn't stress enough in my Drum 'n' Fun review. There are DLC songs in both games but they're quite pricey and as far as I can tell, there is no season pass available. So, if you would like the entire collection of songs then you're looking at shelling out a lot of clams.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is focused on what makes the franchise enjoyable: its distinct take on rhythm gameplay. It may not have all sorts of extra mini-games and such but what's here is still a stellar entry in Namco's long-running series.
- + Enjoyable rhythm gameplay with online ghosts and local multiplayer
- + Bingo cards add a lot of replay value
- + Customizing characters is fun
- - No mini-games in this release
- - Could use more control options
- - Lack of readily available drum controller