Beatmania

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a game by Konami
Platform: Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 6.5/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 7.3/10 - 8 votes
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See also: Hideo Kojima Games, Dancing Games, Beatmania Series
Beatmania
Beatmania
Beatmania

The arcade precursor to Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s plastic instruments craze of the early 2000s is Beatmania, a rhythm game that lets players unleash their inner DJ. The unique mix of skill and rhythm needed to play Beatmania make it one of the most demanding music games of its time, but is the game’s DJ gameplay fun enough for most players?

Money makes the world go round

Beatmania’s odd-shaped controller resembles a DJ console, complete with five buttons and a turntable. These buttons, arranged like an “M,” resemble the keys of a piano, and are the main controls of the game, as the players have to hit these buttons as they show up on the screen.

As with many other rhythm games, the notes on the screen fall in a cascade-like fashion, and players will have to press the corresponding buttons once they hit the bottom. Additionally, a prompt to scratch the turntable might also appear to spice things up a little.

The points in the game are represented as “Money” and players are graded on a scale. That scale isn’t affected by the player’s total Money, but by their overall accuracy during the song. It’s better to take your time and be as precise as possible rather than simply racking up points in Beatmania.

Learning the ropes

Due to the game’s unique nature, it’s a blessing that Konami decided to include a Practice mode. In Practice, players can learn the basics of the game from DJ Konami, as he tells players how to correctly play Beatmania via a voice-over.

Once you’re familiar enough with the basics, it’s time to take on Normal Mode. This mode, as its name might suggest, is Beatmania’s main event: players choose a song from a pool and play it for points. As the player beats songs, new and more difficult tracks get added to the song pool.

Expert Mode will give even the more skilled Beatmania players a run for their money. In this mode, players play through all the songs in a set in order, losing energy (represented by the “Audience” bar) faster than usual. Thankfully, continues are allowed, but that doesn’t make Expert Mode any easier.

Familiar beats

As a Japanese developer, Konami made sure to include the talents of many local artists. That said, these DJs might be a bit obscure for American audiences, even for the most avid electronic music enthusiasts.

There’s one negative aspect about the song selection that’s worth mentioning: most of the songs are too long. This baffling decision is weird considering that Beatmania started as an arcade game, where shorter songs would mean more quarters being spent.

Luckily for non-electronic music fans, the guys at Konami also made sure to include some great nods to their other game series. Remixes of music from Castlevania or Metal Gear Solid can be found in the setlist, meaning that fans of other series can try playing a song they’ve already listened to many times before.

Beatmania is a great start for a franchise, but by itself, it’s a simple game that lacks any meaningful depth. The arcade nature of the gameplay means that play sessions of Beatmania are kept sweet and short, with little reason to spend time with the game other than to master the small selection of songs it has to offer.

6

The controls work great, and if you’re a fan of Japanese electronic music you’ll find some great tracks here. This is a game for a very niche audience, and for those in that audience, Beatmania is a game that won’t disappoint.

Pros:

  • Solid controls
  • Clear interface
  • Some remixes of other Konami classics

Cons:

  • Lack of gameplay modes
  • Obscure tracklist
  • Earlier songs are of questionable quality

Download Beatmania

Playstation 2

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

I'm not certain that I've got the funky beat anymore. I'm pretty sure I left it on a bus somewhere, riding home after a night of playing Frequency and Amplitude. So, can I really review a title like this? I'm not sure' after all, just don't got the funk. That said, I still remember what it was like to play some really awesome music games. Beatmania slides nicely into the genre with only a couple of concerns. First, the learning curve in this game is an absolute nightmare; you're controlling five buttons and a scratch pad, all at once. Second, this game is stuck in 90's Capcom/Konami interface land, looking more like a Streetfighter mini-game than a modern title. There's some worth to this game, I just don't think the merits outweigh the flaws.

My package was the full game pack, complete with arcade style controller, something that'll set you back only a few dollars more at a roughly $65 price point. I can't tell if they sell the game separately without controller, since I can't find it anywhere, but let's assume. Not being familiar with the arcade version, I started with the PS2 analog and moved up to the custom controller. The short verdict? Playing with the custom controller is really hard, and the normal PS2 analog makes it even more difficult. Beatmania's custom controller has seven buttons and a scratch pad, but you'll generally only need to use five of the buttons in the single player game. If that makes you think you might have a fight on your hands, you'd be right. Once you've gone through several sessions of grueling, difficult practice, you might be able to get the hang of the controls. It'd be easier if their training program weren't a joke, but what can you say.

Visually, as I mentioned earlier, there's nothing to write home about. The game offers a small amount of visual distraction that you won't get to see; you'll be too busy trying to pay attention to the gameplay area. Personally, I would've enjoyed Beatmania much more if the visuals had been directly attached to the part of the screen I was focused on. Graphics aside, like most music games, there's a good soundtrack to be had here, so your ears shouldn't be bored. You'll only have a few songs to play at first, but they've got some good choices, and they actually play each song throughout the level, with your contribution adding in little musical enhancements.

In reflection, here's my opinion. This game has a neat controller, some good songs, and is overall way too difficult for its own good. Plus, I'd like to play something that doesn't look like the video game equivalent to parachute pants. With some small tweaks, this would've been a title worth playing, but then it would've just been another Frequency or Amplitude. My verdict? Pass.

Snapshots and Media

Playstation 2 Screenshots