Sunday paper - Taiko forever!!!!!!!
November 19, 2023

This is my first one of these, but the plan is to just quickly post about the interesting things I played this past week. Here goes!

Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun!, by DOKIDOKI GROOVE WORKS

If you don't know, I am a part of the games coworking-slash-events space Boshi's Place. Some months back we were donated this game along with its surprisingly large taiko drum controller. We don't keep a switch in the space, so it's mostly just been gathering dust on a shelf. Squinting at the drum controller, we figured it was basically just an oversized button — a dark omen for how good the game could really be — but we organized a Wario Ware night this week (see below) and figured, a switch is here, what the hell, and gave this a brief try. We have been playing ever since...

Honestly even without the drum or the videogame, just holding those drum sticks feels so good, they have some real heft to them. Because we've been playing in a well-insulated studio, we've had the freedom and space to really crank up the music and whack that drum with full force. It gets pretty in loud in there. But that's the magic of it! It's a rhythm game that conjurs the sweaty, physical energy of DDR — head down and arms wailing on the taiko feels incredible, like I'm one with the music, like I'm a true taiko master.

We ordered a second drum so we can do taiko-offs and I am very excited.

I played this the other night while I was waiting for something to download (or maybe I was waiting for a build to finish, I don't remember) and really loved it. The texture work is pretty stunning: everything has a wishy-washy watery feel to it, bending and warping in beautifully organic ways. The maxed-out specularity is really nice as well, giving the images this beautifully digitized quality.

Mechanically the game has an interesting disorientation. WASD rotates the little diorama but I wasn't totally able to grasp how the rotation angles were oriented, and rotating applies physical torque rather than on/off snapping so that things have a tendency to slip out from under you. I quite like this! I think it gives the scenes a little more life, having to work harder to get them to do what you want, and consequently stumbling your way into accidentally striking compositions. On the game's page, Nikolai says that the game is "a kind of gamer den of the apocalypse...[ruminating] on transpessimism and isolation as a Pyrrhic survival technique," and the apocalyptic lens comes through: the spaces are deteriorating and fragile, and you have no ways to save it.

When I played I only got one scene, but the scenes change over time. I would love sometime to put it on in the background and let it go and wander into new terrains. Perhaps sometime soon!

WarioWare: Move It!, by Intelligent Systems

One of my personal favorite games is WarioWare: Smooth Moves for the Wii. Wonderfully irreverent and playful, it marked me as a lifelong WarioWare fan. When I found out this week that a new WarioWare had been released (and apparently another one a few years prior...) I immediately made plans to play it with friends.

I don't like this one as much as Smooth Moves. I think it's a much worse aesthetic package — the music, the art, the voice acting and storytelling don't come together for me and aren't nearly as memorable — but the minigames themselves are still great fun. I played the singleplayer mode with a group of friends. We would rotate in a circle between minigames, each person playing one frantic challenge before desperately passing the baton before the next game begin. Contorting your body in silly ways is always fun, but doing it with friends is even better. I'm already looking forward to playing some more.

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