Review by FFandMMfan

"Set the world on fire. In a good way."

In 2005, Japanese gamers (and importers) met a trio of traditional Japanese male Cheerleaders in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan for the Nintendo DS. These were not your average cheerleaders, oh no. These cheerleaders used the power of music and intense, burning spirit, to give people in near-hopeless situations the strength they needed to overcome life's everyday (and not-so-everyday) obstacles.

They are the Ouendan, and they will use their intense, music-driven energy (and knack for already being on the scene exactly when they're needed) to help you overcome your troubles, be it studying for a test, trying to get the girl of your dreams, or fighting off giant monsters. No matter the situation, they WILL give you the power to overcome it.

So now, two years later (Well, Elite Beat Agents was released in 2006, but this is the sequel to Ouendan, whereas EBA was an American re-imagining of Ouendan), the Ouendan have returned to help us get over our troubles once again. But the question is, is their energy still as fiery as ever, or has it burned out? I can assure you, that this game burns brighter than both of the games before it. It takes everything that was great about the previous games, and improves upon them with a spectacular soundtrack. It is easily, the best of the three.

But what exactly makes this game burn with even greater energy than Ouendan 1 and EBA? Read on to find out.

Story - 7/10
=============
Taking place some time after the first game (assumed to be roughly 6 years later), the Ouendan are still doing their daily routine of helping people overcome their troubles... However, just on the other side of the river, a group of blue-clad Ouendan begin cheering on citizens of their town. Of course, the Red squad (our original heroes) won't stand for being second-best, and an intense rivalry begins. Who can bring the most success to the people of the two towns? Who will come out on top, as the best Ouendan in the world?

Its cliche as hell, but it's still very entertaining.

Within each of the song's stages, you'll (as usual) get to see a manga-style view of the person's issue, and then see their progress as you play the song. However, many of the stage stories, just aren't as good as the ones in the first Ouendan. They aren't bad, but a few of them do feel a little lacking.

But hey, if you're an importer, and you can't read Japanese, the story won't mean very much to you anyway.

Gameplay - 10/10
=================
If you've played the first Ouendan, or EBA, you'll feel right at home. The Hit markers, Phrase markers and Spin markers are still used in the exact same way as they always have been (though, the beat patterns are A LOT better this time around).

If you haven't played them before, it's actually very simple to play. Hit markers require a tap, Phrase markers require you to follow a ball along a bar to keep the beat, and Spin markers require you to spin your stylus rapidly around the screen, for bonus points. The three note types are arranged around the screen in various patterns, and must be hit to the music, to complete the stage. It's like touch-based Dance Dance Revolution... kind of...

Several of the gameplay and feature improvements that were introduced in EBA, have also been included in Ouendan 2, such as Replay Saving, the ability to skip stage intros (and endings now, too), single-card multiplayer, a better high-score table (which is even better than EBA's since it holds your THREE best scores instead of one), rumble pack support, VS Ghost mode, a picture gallery and Ranks that actually unlock new things such as songs and artwork.

For those of you who had trouble with Spinners and the nasty life drain of Ouendan, you'll be pleased to know that Ouendan 2 uses the EBA spinner resistance, and EBA life drain. Keep in mind though, this doesn't mean it is any easier, since many of the stages are FAR more difficult than those in Ouendan/EBA, and some of the later ones are even more difficult than RSG/JJF, and no, I don't mean only the last ones :)

Also, brand new to the game, is the addition of a fifth difficulty mode, known as Hidden Mode. It's actually just a modifier that removes the timer circles from all of the notes, and makes hit markers VANISH right before they must be hit, so you'll have to look AHEAD of your current position, to see where the notes are, so you know which spot to tap at to hit the invisible note. It must be unlocked, and can be applied to any of the existing difficulties, to add a bigger challenge, and for a much larger score multiplier (which actually can MAX OUT the score counter with an S rank on the last song). It should also be noted that you never HAVE to play Hidden Mode, if you find it too challenging, it's completely optional and will only end up rewarding you with some bonus artwork.

To put it all simply, if you liked Ouendan 1 and EBA, you'll like Ouendan 2.

Music - 10/10
====================
The backbone of any rhythm game. If the game doesn't have a good song list, then people won't want to play it. Lucky for you, Ouendan 2 has an incredible soundtrack, with maybe only one or two below-average songs on the entire track list (out of the 19 songs in the game), and if you love J-pop (and even if you don't), you'll surely be satisfied with the song list.

For a short list of only SOME of the songs in the game, there's Sukima Switch's Zenryoku Shonen, Kaela Kimura's Real Life Real Heart, Ken Hirai's POP STAR, Porno Graffiti's Music Hour, Mika Nakashima's Glamorous Sky, Hitomi Yaida's Go My Way, and Hyde's COUNTDOWN.

These great songs, combined with the greatly improved note patterns, and increased difficulty, make this game A LOT more fun than the already great Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents.

Graphics - 10/10
=================
Same graphical style as before, just improved and made clearer and more colorful. The new blue squad all look as awesome as the original red squad. It should also be noted that the game does NOT have different "dances" for each stage, like EBA did, mainly because Ouendan don't dance, they pose

Again, if you liked how it looked in the previous games, you'll like it now.

Closing Comments
=================
To summarize everything here, the game is awesome, and if you loved the previous games, you'll love Ouendan 2. It is, in my opinion, the best of the series thusfar and is well worth the money it costs to import it.

The language barrier is virtually non-existent, since it has an almost identical layout to EBA, except with a 2D map (with 3D objects, instead of the full 3D globe of EBA) for choosing your songs. If you can get around EBA's menus, you can get around Ouendan 2's menus.

Pros:
+ Awesome soundtrack
+ Improved (and more challenging) note patterns
+ Easier spinners and less life drain
+ You can play as both squads, though each song has a fixed squad that plays on it
+ Took all the improvements from EBA, and further improved upon them.
+ The final stage is the hardest song in the series thusfar.
+ Able to save multiple replays of the same song
+ You can skip the long ass ending and credits
+ High score table saves your top three scores instead of just one for each song.
+ Virtually no language barrier
+ No lag whatsoever

Cons:
- Doesn't have Hare Hare Yukai. Seriously, WTF iNiS? That'd be freakin' awesome.
- A few of the stage stories seem to be ripped straight out of Ouendan 1/EBA with new characters.
- Single card multi is VERY limited
- Can't switch squads, or use different leaders on other difficulties

Ouendan 2 is amazing, one of the best games on the DS, and should not be missed by anyone.
OUENDAAAAAAAAN!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/07


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