(PS2/PSP) Rhythm games never quite caught on without gimmicks. I mean, I love them, but unless you have a floor mat (DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION) or guitar (GUITAR HERO) or drums (ROCK STAR) good fucking luck selling your game. Even the progenitor of the genre — PARAPPA THE RAPPER — couldn’t sell their sequel.
That said: I’m a sucker for every weirdo rhythm game, and this is a rhythm game I absolutely cherish. It perhaps had one of the best rhythm game control schemes of all time, and it managed to craft an emotional narrative as well. Best of both worlds.
Let me rewind a bit:
GITAROO MAN is a pretty basic ‘boy meets girl, girl meets boy, the world needs saving and can only be done through music’ story, but it pulls it off through its charismatic visual design and charming soundtrack. (I even imported the OST waaaay back in the day!) It’s a game that I’d always wished would get a proper re-release or, dare I even say, a remaster? However, it seems doomed to live in the shadows.
I recently wrote about HAVEN, one of those rare games that genuinely moved me as a romantic work, but this one did as well, twenty years prior. There’s one ‘stage’ you play, when you’re just playing a lullaby and the person you’re with feels safe and tired and lays their head on your shoulder, and the ‘stage’ ends.
It’s an extremely sweet and tender moment that you actually interact with, instead of just watch.
I will note that the opening dialogue is clumsy, and the way the game leans on the ‘life bar’ is kind of creepy in a conquest way, as is the ‘OH YEAH!’ at the end. I chalk all of that up to reusing code because this was clearly not a big-budget game, but uh, yeah. Try not to think about any of that too much and enjoy the tune.
Sadly, the game is practically impossible to get ahold of now unless you’re willing to pay waaaaaay too much, so I shouldn’t even be recommending it and definitely don’t ask me if you can borrow my copy, but we can all enjoy the videos, can’t we?