In 2005, iNiS crafted Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for DS. Rhythm games were hardly being made for the system, but they instantly proved that it could have amazing results when done right. People spoke so positively about it that it was popular both in and outside Japan, with it being imported en mass.
Clearly taking note of this, iNiS next created Elite Beat Agents. Featuring exactly the same gameplay, some features were added and others improved on, and the soundtrack, of course, consisted entirely of English songs rather than Japanese ones. Amazingly enough, the same happened for EBA - It was popular all over the world, with Japanese stores actually importing loads of copies to sell to Ouendan fans.
Obviously, such success couldn't go unnoticed, and so, iNiS made a direct sequel to Ouendan, featuring the same characters, coupled with the gameplay improvements and new features offered in Elite Beat Agents. The result is rhythm perfection.
The plot is still as wacky as ever. When people find themselves up against insurmountable odds, they simply shout "Ouendan" at the top of their lungs - The titular cheering squad then shows up out of nowhere mere seconds later, after which they will begin to dance in tune with one of the game's 19 songs to cheer on the person in need. Somehow, this gives the person an almost magical performance boost, being able to overcome anything that troubles him or her. But, if the squad performs poorly, the results will show - Keep going out of tune and whoever you're trying to help will very quickly fail in overcoming their obstacles, requiring you to start the song over.
In this game, there's actually two squads - One is new in town, but very quickly states they're the better squad, resulting in a rivalry between the two. As such, the songs in the game are divided up between the two teams - The new guys get 14, while the old ones get 13. The two final songs are played with both teams at the same time.
As in the other two games, the gameplay consists entirely of tapping beats on screen in rhythm with the music. Each beat is represented by a coloured circle with a number, which reveals exactly what order you will need to hit them in. In addition, a bigger circle surrounds every beat - It will become smaller and smaller, eventually lining up perfectly with the beat. It is at this time that you must tap the beat for maximum points. At some point in most songs, there will also be one or more "spinners," which, as the name implies, require you to rapidly spin a large wheel around to fill up a meter before going to the next part of the song. Due to complaints about these in the first game, they are a bit toned down and don't require you to spin as hard anymore.
Of course, the most important part of any rhythm game is the music. There's 19 songs on offer, and each is of good length. Although it's likely you won't understand any of the lyrics, they're still extremely catchy - Personally, we think there isn't a bad song in the bunch, while the previous games had their share of stinkers. The game offers four difficulty levels to play the songs in - For each higher one, the beats will come in larger numbers and will not appear until closer to the moment they must be hit at, which means you need much faster reactions.
Each song accompanies a specific character in need, and each comes with their own comic book style intro and outro. Again, you're not likely to understand the Japanese text, but it hardly matters, because the pictures will tell you exactly what's going on.
There is also an unlockable "invisible" mode for the true rhythm masters. This removes the shrinking circles entirely and also only makes the beats appear for a split second before they vanish. This doesn't mean you have to him them right after they appear, oh no - You'll have to hit them sometime after they disappear, because, as the mode's name implies, they simply become invisible! This isn't an actual seperate game mode, per se - It can be "applied" on top of any of the four difficulty levels and will simply increase the points you get for each successfully hit beat.
As with the other games, there is also a wireless multiplayer mode available. It's quite simple - You simply compete against up to 3 others players to score the highest on a particular song. Performing well for a certain period of time will also hinder your opponents in certain ways, which mostly just comes down to making their beats harder to hit. In the single player game, it is also possible to save replays of your performances - You can then play against your own "ghost" in multiplayer mode, if you want an extreme challenge. To top it off, the multiplayer mode actually has a few extra storylines. But not another 19 - Each story is simply associated with multiple songs.
The graphics are as good as they could be for this kind of game - All the cutscenes and stories are comprised of great-looking 2D images, while the Ouendan members and level select map are rendered in 3D, yet still manage to look very detailed, something many DS games can't manage.
The original Ouendan was a fantastic game, and Elite Beat Agents repeated that success. Ouendan 2 takes the arguably more interesting characters from the first game and the new gameplay features from EBA, blending them together to form what is, without a doubt, the best rhythm game on the DS. With four difficulty levels, 19 songs and multiplayer, Ouendan 2 ensures you'll be busy for quite a while. I mean, come on, don't you want an S rank on the hardest song, on the highest difficulty?
Although it must be imported to be enjoyed, trust us when we say it's worth whatever you pay for it. Now, iNiS, where's Ouendan 3 and/or Elite Beat Agents 2?