As Brad described, Gitaroo Man features a story about the loser, his puppy-love crush, and his journey towards heroism. Corny? Is it ever, presented in the cheesiest way possible complete with silly, very-Japanese cutscenes between stages. They can be a bit of a trial for those who cant stomach moments involving frantic dialogue like that exchanged between characters in cartoons like the Powerpuff Girls or Spongebob Squarepants. Still, this game doesn't take itself seriously, which makes for nothing but silly fun and laughs. Its creative use of graphics during play in addition to the cutscenes adds to some of the best music heard in a niche game of its kind, which kept me interested all the way through.
Gitaroo Man is probably the most demanding of rhythm games I've played and seems more improvisational in terms of working with beats than other music games like the flexibly challenging Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) series or Sega's more tempo-forgiving game, Rez. DDR tests ones pacing along to beats and half-beats and Rez ends up making beats for you regardless of your rhythm. Gitaroo Man is different in that it has the player pushing buttons at any give time regardless of tempo. It is after all, about the guitar, not Drummania.
Players with no sense of rhythm will have a hard time with Gitaroo Man. As usual, no sugar coating here. Brads reference to the sci-fi reggae number was one point in the game where I found myself throwing away any reliance on the songs slow rhythm I couldn't think ahead of or work with the songs beat and instead stared dead center at the screen to push the appropriate buttons when they hit the queue mark. There are quite a few times when I felt I had to wing it like so to the point of frustration after experiencing through several stages.
Also, like Brad, I found myself not quite hitting the mark when moving the analog stick to follow the screens "trace line" and I'm still hit-or-miss trying to get it right. Completing the game once unlocks a "Masters Play" mode for those who really think they can pull off even more high speed analog movement and button pushing, as if it weren't difficult enough.
Player challenges aside, the music that makes Gitaroo Man good is very well-received after my complaint about another music game, Rez. Rez had just one style of music – techno (of course, it fit with Rezs theme so I cant be too harsh). Having a mesh of music in the Gitaroo soundtrack is refreshing save for, again, that reggae sci-fi jumble that Ill equally dislike with Brad.
After completing the game once, the most gratification came from replaying levels to hear the full complement of a song. The analog stick motions and button pushing I started off with when first encountering each stage never made for good sounding results: whenever you make a mistake or miss a hit, you wont hear the Gitaroo working with the rest of a song. Going back to each stage after finishing the game really showed improvement on my part and brought out the true sound of each song.
Gitaroo Man is only rent worthy because of its short length I spent several hours of playing and retrying stages and I was done before the night was over. The 2 to 4 player battling I managed to do was fun but limited, featuring just one backdrop and only several of the games songs. Would I like to see a follow-up to Gitaroo Man, though? Very much so. For more seasoned music game fanatics, Gitaroo Man offers something new to the niche, while beginners will be experiencing that and some unwelcome frustration. It isn't for everyone, but it does offer quite a challenge and a step in a different direction for music game control schemes that is worth checking out.
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