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JadeDragon's game reviews and playing tips: Nintendo DS games
Read our review of the Nintendo DS here!

Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan!

Reviewed October 2005 by Ken Pradel

Publisher: Nintendo of Japan
Developer: Inis
ESRB: None, Japanese
Genre: Music Rhythm
Price: $48.90 imported

Also check out the sequel: Ouendan 2 review.

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 Go."

Gameplay

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 explanatory.

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.

Controls

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.

 

 

Screen shots:

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Graphics

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.

Sound

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.

Conclusion

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.

Hints/Cheats

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 cheerleaders.

How to get an "S" Rank: In order to S Rank a level, you must get a perfect for least 90% of the notes.

 

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

Although the graphics are not particularly impressive or groundbreaking, it works well with the style of the game.

Sound

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.

Fun Meter

The gameplay behind Ouendan is brilliant and simple. You will enjoy the gameplay until the very difficult levels where you might get stuck.

Addictivity

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.

Total Score= 4.375 Dragons, 87.5%



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