PS2 REVIEW: BEATMANIA

Compared to superior products like Guitar Hero, DDR and even Karaoke Revolution, Beatmania can't compete. by Cole Smith

April 4, 2006 - Beatmania is the forerunner to Konami's Dance Dance Revolution game. It's only now being released to the North American audiences. Now we can get our hands on the game that the Japanese have been enjoying for years in the arcades. If this sounds like we're getting a hand-me-down game that's because we are.

Beatmania is dated. It could have been released on the PSX and we could all be over with it by now. The fact of the matter is that much better music-related games have already been released. Games such as Guitar Hero and Donkey Konga which feature a guitar and a pair of bongo drums respectively as peripherals, were much more satisfying than Beatmania and I'll let you in on a little secret: Donkey Konga wasn't that great either.

Fans of rhythm games will probably find favor with Beatmania and Bemani (that's a given) but the average gamers looking for the latest novelty will most likely be disappointed with the presentation, gameplay and novelty peripheral controllers that is designed to simulate a DJ's work station. As if being a DJ is so difficult in the first place. Can you play a CD? Then you're a DJ. Okay, there's more to it than that.

Some may see Beatmania as a good alternative to those dancing or karaoke games but there is still the song list to contend with, that is anything but stimulating. How about some Britney Spears and a ton of songs by people that you've never heard of? How about a shotgun to the head? You've got to hear some these songs to believe how bad they are. There are some generic remixes by some unknown DJs that are obviously tone deaf and rhythmically challenged. It's embarrassing that these songs are even included in this game. These guys know nothing about music and are so ignorant of how bad they really are, willingly sign their name to this crap and probably even tell their friends they are featured on the soundtrack of a PS2 game. I've heard babies with more talent tapping on a Fisher Price toy. I'm not saying all of the tunes that are bad, but the ones that are, are really stanky.

The gameplay revolves around a turntable, keyboard pad and a mixer. By using these pieces of equipment it's you job to make the people in the club dance. All you need is rhythm and coordination, but even that won't help you with some of the terrible songs included here. You don't actually get to mix and match beats of different songs to maintain a continuous flow of music the way real DJs do in a club. You just add embellishments. So you can't even use this game to give you the 10-minutes of required training that it takes to become a professional DJ.

A turntable and a keyboard are the alternate controllers. The price of the game with the controllers will set you back about $65. Each hand is supposed to control either the turntable or the keypad. The keyboard replicates a section of a piano keyboard with four white keys and three black keys, but they are spaced further apart then a standard keyboard. The keys are like individual buttons and are isolated from each other. You can't just roll your fingers over to the next key. It makes things more challenging this way.

As notes fall down the screen you will have to press the appropriate key on the keyboard or give the turntable a spin depending on which section the notes fall into. There are eight sections where the notes can fall into. They will enter each section in (relative) time to the rhythm of the song. Each key accesses a sampled sound that has to be mixed in to the track. Including the turntable, there are eight input commands that correspond with the eight sections where the notes fall into.

The turntable is a piece of crap. It doesn't affect the music in any way. It's basically just a big button that allows you to make an input command. There is a Free Scratch mode where you get to do a solo on the turntable to earn some points. You would have to be mentally slow, very young, or a DJ, to not be embarrassed to be seen playing with this turntable.

As a dynamic monitoring device, the Groove Meter lets you see how you're doing at any given moment in the song. It monitors your progress and will fill the meter when you're doing well and deplete the meter when you do poorly. Another meter monitors your performance for the entire song. At the end you will earn a groove grade for your performance. By replaying the song and practicing your problem areas, which will be pointed out by the Groove Meter, you can improve your overall score.

As far as challenges go, Beatmania is hard to beat - both figuratively and literally. You DJs out there might want to look those words up in the dictionary. It starts out easy enough but the difficulty curve is more like a mountain. Everything gets faster and more complex. A two-player mode is wishful thinking. It's doubtful that if you're stupid enough to purchase this game with the controller that you'll find anyone else stupid enough to do the same thing. It's possible to play this game with your regular PS2 controller. While the turntable/keyboard peripheral is more authentic, it honestly doesn't make it any more fun; just more expensive.

Lights flash, colors swirl and the crowd writhes to your incredible reflexes. A lot is going on the background and all this flash and trash actually interferes with the gameplay. As notes increase in speed they can sometimes get lost in the distracting light show.

There is no accounting for some peoples' tastes and you might find that you like this game - and hate me. That's fine. I expect that. Outside of game reviewing, I'm also a DJ.



Features:

  • Spin the music to more than 50 club tracks, including pop, techno, drum 'n' bass, trance and house
  • Exciting two player modes that allow players to perform cooperatively or competitively
  • Exclusive hits and music from some of the hottest DJs and remixers in the scene
  • Multiple options and difficulty settings make beatmania easy to learn and challenging to master
  • Pulsating audio and visual presentation delivers the club experience to the home through the PlayStation 2 console

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Beatmania (PS2)
2.5
Graphics
Overly busy light show obscures the gameplay at times. Characters and background are fairly low quality.
3.3
Control
You can buy the special controller that contains a simulated turntable and keyboard pad, or you can save your money and put it into a mutual fund.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Most of the music is crap. Please remember I grew up in the 60's and 70's when people played instruments because....they could!
3.0
Play Value
Playing with like-minded individuals might be fun, but it ain't my cup of tea.
3.0
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2
Dev: Konami
Pub: Konami
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best