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November 14, 2006



- Some excellent music

- Crazy story



- Some lame music

- Very few improvements over the PS2 version



Review: Donkey Konga 2 (GC)

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Gitaroo-Man Lives!

Score: 7.5 / 10


Remember Parappa the Rapper, the adorable rapping puppy who helped shape the whole rhythm genre back in the PSOne days? If not, donít worry Ė his PS2 follow-up was pretty lousy. But the torch was carried on by Koeiís Gitaroo Man, another Japanese game by small development studio iNiS that shared the game goofy spirit and similar gameplay mechanics. Alas, as with many cult classics, Gitaroo Man disappeared quickly from retail shelves, leaving gamers to pay a premium for their chance to rock out and save the universe, but Koei has now ported it to the PSP under the moniker Gitaroo Man Lives!


gitaroo-man lives          gitaroo-man lives


Gitaroo Man tells the story of a young loser named U-1, who not only canít talk to girls, but is is constantly targetted by bullies. With the aid of his talking dog, he learns that he can wield the power of the Gitaroo, a magical guitar with some kind of insane powers, and takes off into space to save an alien civilization from terror. Along the way, he learns the strength of love and confidence and whatnot. It is, of course, pure Japanese-style nonsense, but that aids the charm. I mean,




- Rythm Game Reviews

you have to duel with a trumpet playing guy in a bee costume. This is one of the best levels in the game.


As one might expect, every battle is fought by playing the guitar. Most of the notes are played by tracing a line with the analog stick and holding the X button, although there are occasional segments where you need to hit other face buttons in 


rhythm with the song, much like Parappa. The gameplay never strays from this, but while it may seem simple initially, it gets surprisingly hard fairly quickly. You really need to get a feel for most songs and memorize their guitar riffs, because the action moves a bit too fast, especially in the later difficulty levels.


Of course, rhythm games live and die by their music, and Gitaroo Man has its fair share of both. All of the music was composed specifically for the game, with absolutely no licensed tracks. A handful of the songs represent different types of electric guitar rock, but when the soundtrack strays into techno and reggae, the game begins to drag. Despite these hiccups, the good songs are REALLY good. One of the best themes in the game is a melody first introduced as a lullaby played on an acoustic guitar, which is later used in the last stage as spectacular rock ballad. This alone makes it worth seeing Gitaroo Man through to its conclusion. In spite of the better music, some of the song seem overly long and seem to drag, which makes replaying the game a bit dull.


gitaroo-man lives          gitaroo-man lives


Unfortunately, the story mode is pretty short, clocking in with a mere eleven stages.  New to the PSP version is a Duel mode, which has two completely new songs that can be played alone or with a friend, although neither of them stand up to the quality of the original songs. This is really the only addition to the PSP port Ė the control is a bit more forgiving to compensate for the crappy analog pad, and the graphics are re-rendered at a widescreen resolution, but otherwise itís practically identical.


And this is probably Gitaroo Man Livesí biggest fault. Even when it originally came out over four years, it was tough to justify a full priced purchase, since itís over so quickly, and doesnít hold up too well over repeated plays. However, since the PS2 version still fetches a decent price on the secondary market, the PSP version ultimately wonít cost any more, so itís still not a bad deal. Still, the cruel irony is that the game is going head-to-head with another iNiS developed title, Nintendoís Elite Beat Agents Ė which not only has deeper game mechanics, but is plenty longer and a lot more fun too. While Gitaroo Man Lives! comes off as a bit inferior, and thereís nothing worthwhile here if youíve already played the PS2 version,  that shouldnít stop other fans from trying one of the best rhythm games of last generation.


- Kurt Kalata

(November 28, 2006)


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