Review by FFandMMfan

"Lets not overlook this gem like Japan did, ok?"

In 2005, iNiS, the makers of the ever famous Gitarooman released a game that took Japan by storm and sold 10 Zillion copies and became the most popular game in Japan.

Well, I wish it did. Sadly, the game in question, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (Go! Fight! Cheer Squad) didn't sell for crap, and many copies were left on the shelves. A sad fate, for such a great game. But what went wrong? Why was such a "great" game overlooked?

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (henceforth, Ouendan) was a rhythm game. A game based on following the music to play, and reach high scores... but the problem was, the majority of the Japanese public were sick and tired of the mainstream music in the game.

And of course, Americans ate it up like candy.

The import rates were high, Ouendan was the highest selling import game at one time, and still sells quite a few copies to this day. But yet, the same unloved copies sit on Japanese shelves.

The creators of Ouendan saw that the Americans loved the quirky style and energy of the game, and started up production on an English version, which, as rumored, was not even planned from the beginning.

And here, we have the English version. Elite Beat Agents, an American take on the amazing gameplay found in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Importers loved the Jpop and Japanese comedy style found in Ouendan... and now we have American pop, rock and various other styles of music, and American inspired humor.

But that doesn't mean the game is bad. In fact, in some ways, it improves over Ouendan. So, will Americans come to realize that the game is just as good as Ouendan, or will the game sit on store shelves like it's Japanese cousin?

It is my mission, here in this review, to prove to you that EBA IS worth the money, the hype and the hours you'll spend playing it.

Gameplay - 10/10
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Elite Beat Agents is a rhythm game, and as such, is played by following the beat points to music tracks. But unlike many rhythm games, your note patterns aren't clear, dead in front of you, advancing upon the point of contact when they must be hit. Instead, the notes appear all over the touch screen and not only must you keep the rhythm and hit them in time, but you must also remember where they will appear, or else you'll find yourself failing very quickly.

The notes are played in one of 3 ways. Hit Markers, which are circles that must be tapped in time with the music. Phrase Markers, which are long bars that appear in various shapes and designs that produce a ball at one end, which must be followed in time with the music. And Spin Markers, large discs that fill the whole screen, that must be rotated to fill a meter in order to clear the note. Performing additional spins past the completion point will result in bonus points.

These notes will appear in various patterns and positions around the touch screen, acompanied by rings that close onto them to assist you in timing them correctly. All the while, your Elite-O-Meter (read: Life Meter) continues to deplete, and without a good performance, you'll run out of energy and fail the song.

As you complete songs, you'll unlock more of them. While only one is available at the beginning, once you complete it, you'll unlock 3 more, and then even more, and so on until you unlock all 19 songs. Plus, there are 4 difficulty modes, with completely different note patterns in each, which brings up the replay value.

All in all, the gameplay stays true to Ouendan, and fans of the original game should be pleased. The note patterns are well done, for the most part, and the later songs truly are as hard as some of the ones in Ouendan.

Music - 10/10
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There's been a lot of talk about how much the song list "sucks" and it's quite simply not true. While some of the songs may be sub-par, and maybe decent, none of them SUCK, there's not a song on there that SUCKS to the point that it is completely unplayable.

The song list was designed with EVERYONE in mind. The teenage kids who may be into The Anthem, La La or Sk8er Boi. You or your parents who may be into Highway Star, September, Jumpin' Jack Flash, or YMCA. Your Uncle Bob who may like Rock This Town or ABC. And your grandma who wants something nice and slow like Believe and You're the Inspiration.

And that's not even the whole list!

The covers, for the most part, are pretty well done and the "hit" sound effects are not quite as obstructive as Ouendan's chirps and whistles. The voice acting is average at best, but it really doesn't matter because there isn't too much talking anyway.

As for those who cannot leave Ouendan's Jpop song list behind and refuse to get the game: I pity you, because you are missing on a great list simply because you've heard the songs before, which is EXACTLY why Ouendan didn't sell well in Japan.

Graphics - 10/10
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This game oozes style. For the uninformed, the "Elite Beat Agents" are actually YOUR characters, but you don't actually play "as" them, but rather, your performance directly influences theirs, and that in turn influences the performance of the person in peril.

The Agents are constantly dancing, and they'll usually dance somewhere around where the note you just hit is at. However, unlike it's cousin Ouendan, every single stage has a completely different dance move set. In Ouendan, every level had the Cheer Squad dance the same moves as they would in any other stage, but in different patterns. In EBA, you'll find them doing the "YMCA Dance" in YMCA, handstands in Canned Heat, air guitar in Sk8er Boi, and gentle arm waving in You're the Inspiration. These dance steps further increase the style, far beyond Ouendan.

On top of that, while you are busy playing and getting the Agents to dance on the Touch Screen, a person in peril is facing their fears on the top screen. If you do well, they will succeed, if you do poorly, they will fail.

Each level also opens with a comic animation, displaying a short story to explain a character's plight. Everything in the game is well animated, and is even crisper and more colorful than Ouendan. I'd hate to say it, but if there is one thing that EBA does better than Ouendan that CANNOT be argued, its the animation quality.

Story - 10/10
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As stated before, the game revolves around you, the Agents, being dispatched to help people with their problems through the power of song and dance. As absurd as it sounds.... oh hell, it IS absurd, but it works, and it works very well.

You'll find missions such as a girl trying to get a Football player to date her, while her babysitting job gets in the way. A taxi driver that plays far too much Crazy Taxi, that has to get a pregnant woman to the hospital. An ex-baseball player that has to save a theme park from giant fire breathing Golems. And a movie director with one last chance to make a hit film. All of these insane situations come together to provide a great feel good game, that will keep you laughing, and crying, as you follow to beat to the intense tunes.

Extras and Unlockables - 10/10
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We called for help, and iNiS heard us. Some of the extras we wanted so very much in an Ouendan sequel are brought to life in EBA. You can skip the intros to songs, and go right to the first note. You can play single card multiplayer (as well and multicard, for a better experience) and send a demo to DSes. You can save your stage replays, and even trade them with people over a local wireless connection, plus playing your own stage ghosts as well as someone else's.

There are 3 songs that must be unlocked by increasing your ranking, and don't appear until you've scored enough total points. There's 2 unlockable difficulties, Sweatin' (hard) and Hard Rock (Very Hard), plus a secret character for Hard Rock mode, if you can manage to pass every song in the game.

Final Notes
=========
This game, is absolutely amazing, it is just as good as Ouendan, and in some ways, it is better. The game may not have the Jpop of Ouendan, but it has a great soundtrack all the same.

Pros:
+ Great song list
+ Great art style and comedic value
+ Unlockables and extras that Ouendan lacked
+ Normal is easy enough for new players, but Ouendan and rhythm game vets will feel right at home on higher modes.
+ The final stage is amazing

Cons:
- Easy Mode is so easy, that it is almost pointless to play.
- The note patterns can be set up in very confusing ways, though this could be seen as an advantage.
- No Wi-Fi, but the game is still fine without it.

Great game, simple as that. Do not pass this game up like Japan did with their version. This game is easily one of the best DS games currently out, and should NOT be missed.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/06


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