Studying for a test? Parents watching
TV in the same room as you? Brother annoying you? Who do
you call? Not Ghostbusters, but Ouendan, a male cheerleading
group. Completely the opposite of the image of transvestites
dancing around, Ouendans are groups of black clad, Japanese
men who cheer with cries of "Ossu!" Inis,
the people who brought us the underground hit "Gitaroo
Man," bring these unusual people to the Nintendo DS, and
create an amusing and humorous game.
The premise of this game is simple.
Whenever somebody is in a jam, and needs motivation, they
can count on Ouendan to cheer them on, even if it requires
a few doors to be broken in the process. Many of the stranger
situations include helping a musician's immune system fight
diarrhea causing germs or saving the world from a meteor.
J-Pop fans will recognize many of the artists including Orange
Range, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, and 175R. Fullmetal Alchemist
fans will be delighted to hear that the last level is the
opening theme "Ready Steady
Like most good music rhythm games, Ouendan's controls are
incredibly simple. Numbered circles appear on the touch screen
and one has to hit them in rhythm with the stylus. As the game
progresses, new ways of racking up points such as spinning
wheels or dragging the stylus down a track appear. But this
is about as complicated as the controls get, so it shouldn't
be too hard to get started, even if everything is in Japanese.
The language barrier in this game is not a problem. Before
each level, there is a manga style summary of the person's
problem. The creators went wild with this and did some cool
effects that take full advantage of the DS' two screens. Despite
the text being in Japanese, most of the situations are self
This game is easy to start as it has a nice, gentle learning
curve. With the exception of the last few levels, there will
not be any huge leaps in difficulty. The only time the game
gets tricky is in the harder difficulties. Here, the game is
much less forgiving about missed or inaccurate hits, and one
can lose in mere seconds if careless. I have found myself playing
the same level for hours on end, and still not getting any
closer to beating the level than I was when I started. However,
it was so addictive that I was not the least bit discouraged
by my constant losses.
As mentioned earlier, the controls are nice and simple. Any
mistakes in accuracy are either the player's or the touch screen's
fault. This brings up the major problem with this game. It's
incredibly taxing on the touch screen. As the game gets harder,
one gets more nervous, and scratches are bound to occur. I
can't say if playing this game for extended periods of time
will cause permanent problems with the screen, but anyone anal
about scratching their screen should either get a screen protector
or avoid this game.
Ouendan in no way takes full advantage of the DS'
graphical capabilities. Most of the animation has a choppy, comic
book style. The only time the game uses 3D graphics is with the actual
cheerleaders, and even then it is of rather poor quality. Although,
it matches the style of the game very well, it is nothing special.
Ouendan utilizes the dual screen of the DS but
miss-uses of the top screen a bit. During gameplay, the top screen
shows what's happening in the story based on how well the player
is doing. It's often ignored because the player has focus on the
gameplay itself which is displayed on the bottom screen.
The music is crucial to this game, and thankfully
the DS pulls through. When playing at a moderate volume level, each
syllable of each song sounds perfect. Each song sounds just as clear
as the CD version would. Only when you turn the volume to the max
will you hear the music begin sounding scratchy.
The music tracks themselves work perfectly with
each level. Each has a unique rhythm that matches the situation.
For example, the dodgeball level has a high energy rock song, whereas
the level involving a ghost communicating with his girlfriend has
a mellow love song.
Ouendan is not a game for everyone. Fans of traditional
music rhythm games may find the controls a bit too complicated, and
some may find the J-Pop to be annoying. Fans of the original Parappa
the Rapper, will feel right at home playing this game. Everything
from the humor to the addictive gameplay feels just the same. If
you are a fan, then the only downside is the price. As it is unlikely
that it will ever be released outside of Japan, most of us out there
will have to import it from sites like Play Asia or Lik-Sang for
a hefty price.
Unlock Hard Mode: Beat the game in normal mode.
Unlock Insane Mode: Beat the game in hard mode.
Unlike previous difficulties, this time you get to play as female
How to get an "S" Rank: In order
to S Rank a level, you must get a perfect for least 90% of the
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Although the graphics are not particularly
impressive or groundbreaking, it works well with the style
of the game.
Of all the music game on the market,
this by far has the best soundtrack. Each song is catchier
than the previous, and one can't help getting them stuck in
your head afterwards.
The gameplay behind Ouendan is brilliant
and simple. You will enjoy the gameplay until the very difficult
levels where you might get stuck.
I guarantee that no matter how
frustratingly hard a level is, you will play it over and over
again until you beat it or your DS' batteries die.