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.