Review by jubrany

Reviewed: 09/15/06

Guitar Freaks and Drummania make up for lost time in this "2nd Best Hits" Mix

After the success of GF V and DM V, Konami has finally started releasing Guitar Freaks (GF) and drummania (DM) games again, and with a vengeance I might add. With Konami recently announcing the release of Guitar Freaks and drummania V2 on November 22nd, 2006, it will mean that 3 releases have been made in a half-year span! Not to mention, the long-sought after and often delayed ASC guitar controller will finally be available on September 29th, 2006. It is an exciting time for GF and DM players indeed.

Background: what is Guitar Freaks and drummania?

Guitar Freaks is the original “guitar simulation” game. This is based on the arcade game. You use a 3 “fret” (button) guitar controller and the pick lever to play the notes. It is similar to DDR and beatmania but Guitar Freaks has a greater emphasis on speed and precision. Even though there are only 3 buttons, the buttons can be held together in any combination, so fast switching can get very tricky. Play the song well enough and you will “clear” the song… miss too many notes and you’ll get kicked out very fast. Even though Konami refers to this game as a “Guitar Simulation” game, it is more like a music rhythm game.

drummania is another arcade game that links up with Guitar Freaks, and players can play the same songs together on guitar and drums. DrumMania is similar to other bemani games, except instead of buttons you have a set of silent session drums. With a nice drum set, this game really makes you feel like you are really playing the drums! No hi-hat pedal though. In total, you have 5 drum pads and a bass pedal, so the songs can get very hectic to say the least.

So, how does this latest release stack up???

The Package:
I only got the standard package, as the Konami Style Special Edition (which includes drummania and GF branded drumsticks, a neck towel, wristbands, and a card carrying case) was just too expensive.

The regular package includes a nice, detailed colour manual, and a silver disc which is pretty darn cool. Also included is an amusement pass for GF DM 3 for the arcades in Japan.

Songlist: 8 out of 10

This is the largest songlist to ever grace a GF DM home game. I counted 74 songs in total. Noteworthy songs include Black Horizon, Departure, Herring roe, Let Me Believe, Midnight Sun, My Friend, Dear My Friend, Riff Riff Paradise, Rise, Seiron, Tamayura, Sotto, Moonlight Butterfly, Rocket Dive, Famiresu Bomber, Timepiece Phase 2, Agnus Dei, Classic Party 3, One Phrase Blues, Destiny Lovers, Model DD6 and Romance. Overall, the song selection is very, very good, but you can feel that many of the best songs from the series are purposely left out for future releases.

Sound Quality 9 out of 10
The sound is nice and clear, and is especially great if you have a nice stereo system.

Control 10 out of 10
The note framerate is just about perfect; it is really smooth and it has helped me become a much better player. The timing is tight and requires extreme precision to get every last note perfect… which makes getting high scores and skill ratings all the more rewarding.

Graphics 8 out of 10
The main interface was made specifically for this game, and takes ideas from GF V and DM V and GF11 and DM10. Also included as a bonus is the GF11 and DM 10 style interface screens, as well as GF 9 and DM 8 including their respective theme songs. These extras are a really nice added touch from Konami. A very pleasing effort indeed.

Replay Value 9 out of 10
There is so much to do in this game, and if this is your first GF DM game, it will be amazing. Even for vets, this game will remain classic and keep players coming back. But the reason I did not give a 10 for replay value is because there are not enough “ultra hard” GF songs in this mix. GFV had many more challenging tunes than this IMO, and many more 90+ songs. After having it for only 2 weeks, I managed to beat every extreme Guitar song except for 3 or 4. Drums is not an issue, just the guitar section.

Overall 9 out of10

This game is incredible, especially for long-time fans of the series… however, it feels like a tease at the same time. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of the series’ best past songs have not made it in, since it is assumed that they will be saved for Guitar Freaks and drummania Masterpiece Gold. But, considering the pace that the games are being released at, it is completely forgivable. We can expect to see another 30 or so “old” songs in GFDM V2, and the most of the remainder in Masterpiece Gold. The final good songs will hopefully appear in the CS release of V3, which is a ways away since it has just been released at the arcade.

Summary:
Positives
+ vast song list, many classics
+ great for vets or players new to the series, lots of challenge, especially on the drums
+ great fun and replay value
+ great fan service
+ arguably the best home release so far

Negatives
-loading is sluggish again, if you’ve tried GF DM V you’ll know what I mean
-most of the best songs are not here
-as in the previous mix, guitar effects can only be set in the main menu, not in the song (you can only turn that one effect on or off while in a song).
-GF is not as challenging as the last release (still quite challenging though).

In conclusion, this release does not disappoint, and is only a sign of greater things to come from Konami. If you could only pick one release to have, it would be either this or V. Highly recommended.


Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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