As you may have guessed Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (in English; Go! Fight! Cheer Squad) is a musical rhythm game for your Nintendo DS. As it is only available in Japan the game is host to many Japanese tunes (catchy ones at that) and the typical quirky scenarios you would expect. The drawback of this being a Japanese game you would think is the language barrier, but it actually isn’t that bad. The menus are easy as pie to navigate and the only real pieces of information you miss are the short scenes in each song (which are easy to grasp from the images). It is also worthwhile to note that there are rumours of a Western version in development although it probably wont have the same tunes.
You start out the game being able to choose from 2 sets of cheerleaders which are your Easy and Normal difficulty levels. You can expand further from these 2 when you complete them, there is Hard and Very-Hard ready for you to unlock. Each level of difficulty has the same songs with an increased number of hits at a faster rate, so basically the harder the difficulty the more times you will be tapping your screen. The first 3 squads are all men and the 4th and final squad is all female, American women at that and they give you the only English you will hear in this game.
Once you have chosen your squad it’s onto the town map which consists of a top down view of a city with people scattered about. To navigate this map you use the touch screen to drag the camera and when you find the person you want give them a tap on the head you’re ready to roll. Each of these people have their own tune accompanied by their quirky little scenario. In total you will have 15 separate stages to progress through and these are unlocked after clearing the ones available. Each stage starts out with a little introductory scene in comic book style that shows the persons problem. After that it is up to the Cheer Squad to do their job and motivate the person to success. These scenarios, to name a few, consist of policemen stopping an alien invasion, a horse winning a race and chasing a robber, a man trying to win an election, a boy who can’t concentrate on his homework and eventually you will cheer on the world and fend off a giant meteor (and no its not to Aerosmith – I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing).
The gameplay itself involves you tapping the screen in a specific timed order, basically what happens is a bunch of numbers appear on screen with 2 rings around them, while the inside ring will stay still the outside ring will move in. What you have to do is tap the number when the rings overlap, if you do this right you get 300 points, do it slightly wrong you get 100, miss by a bit more and you get 50 and if you totally miss-hit (or not hit) you get a big cross and your spirit bar goes down. There are also numbers that move down a set path which you have to trail your stylus over and there are spinning wheels which make you circle your stylus franticly, again failing on these lowers your spirit bar while succeeding racks up the points.
The spirit bar, well at least that’s what I call it, is located at the top of the screen and it basically tells you how well you are doing. When you rack up your points and combos the bar increases and when you miss anything it goes down. The objective is to keep the bar above 50% to pass each section of the song or above 1% in order to stay in the game. The songs are divided into sections which you can either pass (50%+) or fail (49%-), you don’t need to pass these to complete the level but you only can be satisfied till you do.
As I mentioned earlier the difficulty levels are there to provide a challenge to all who think they are good at the game. Easy is the mode to definitely start off at as it gets you used to the rhythm of each tune and provides a nice break in to the gameplay. Once you have mastered Easy onto Normal you go... and boy what a challenge and a half you are in for. If by some way or another you manage to get through this you’re presented with the next to impossible Hard mode. When you complete this (I salute you if you do) you get Very-Hard mode which is ... well... probably the stupidest difficulty setting I have ever seen, even if you can slow down time you will find this a toughie.
The funny thing is that although you will probably frustrate yourself with this game on many occasions you will find that you want to try and clear all the songs still. This is the addictive nature of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, impossibly hard but impossible to put down.
If you like your Japanese music (like me), or aspire to be a male cheerleader (like pHaT-aNt_) or even if you just like rhythm games, this is the game for you. It’s a pick up and play game ideal for those 10 minute breaks you have nothing to do in. I have nothing to fault in the gameplay and the parts you don’t understand are overshadowed by how damn good it is. It is not going to be for everyone but if you have an interest in this I would recommend you go buy it.