Game Recs

You need to play the best rhythm game since Guitar Hero on Xbox Game Pass ASAP

Drumming up excitement.

It’s wild to get excited about a music-rhythm game in 2022, but one particular Xbox Game Pass title that wears its Japanese roots on its sleeve deserves the hype. Xbox was never traditionally known for showcasing Japanese games so prominently, but this has changed in recent years. We’ve come a long way since the days of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and while those are well in the rearview mirror, a new Xbox rhythm hit has drummed up excitement. The Xbox Game Pass library has just gotten a lot more enticing with the latest additions. But what makes this music game so special?

Wild, wacky fun

Notes fly at you from right to left, requiring you to hit various buttons in the correct order and in time with the music.Bandai Namco Studios

Starting on January 27, 2022, Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master will be added to Xbox Game Pass, marking the first time the series has appeared on Microsoft’s platform. This series garnered popularity in arcades, with those versions featuring two giant drum peripherals for you to bang on to the beat. While this is undoubtedly the definitive edition of the game, being able to play a version of it from the comfort of your own home is a welcome addition.

The console version is presented just like the arcade edition. You must beat the drums (or press buttons) in time with the music, with various techniques to master across the game’s multiple difficulties and dozens of songs.

While the overall premise is simple, things can quickly get hectic and chaotic, especially on harder difficulties. But even beginners can have a blast and learn the ropes, as the button prompts start off simple, only requiring you to navigate between a couple of inputs.

What’s neat is that you don’t have to be ultra-precise to perform well. There are different ratings that are awarded depending on when you hit a particular note. The closer to the center you are, the more points you’ll get, but even if you don’t hit the note exactly on time, you can still keep your combo going, giving you a little flexibility.

The beat of a drum

Part of what makes this game so enjoyable is its art, which is comprised of vibrant, flat colors with over-the-top animations, and sounds. Some of the characters look menacing, while others are cute and endearing, but all share a similar style that really pops on-screen as you’re playing.

Of course, a rhythm game is only as good as its song selection, and Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master delivers in this department. The Xbox edition features over 70 songs, ranging from international pop, anime, classical, and even Namco originals. The Nintendo Switch version of this game features exclusive Nintendo-themed songs, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for some tracks from Xbox franchises to come as DLC, though we won’t hold our breath.

If you’re into Western pop, you might not vibe with Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master’s song selection, so keep that in mind. Though, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of these genres, the game itself is still fun and evokes memories of being in an arcade.

The drum peripheral for Taiko no Tatsujin on consoles.Bandai Namco

Speaking of which, it’s hard to discuss Taiko no Tatsujin without mentioning the original arcade edition. This is, of course, the definitive way to play, but there’s actually a drum peripheral you can get for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions that make it way more fun. Instead of giving you two drums, you only get one, and the pad is divided into two different sides, mimicking the arcade drum.

Sadly, these controller peripherals aren’t interchangeable between consoles, and there isn’t an option for Xbox just yet. But after launching on Xbox Game Pass, it may garner enough attention to warrant the development of an Xbox drum controller.

Nonetheless, even playing with buttons is still a blast, made even better by its inclusion on Xbox Game Pass. What would normally be a tricky game to recommend to everyone is now much more accessible thanks to being available on Microsoft’s subscription service, which has recently surpassed 25 million users.

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