|The fifth Taiko drumming game released on PS2 in Japan, and I think a port of the fourth in the arcade series (the subtitle babelfishes as "4th Generation: Gathering Festival"), Yondaime included many more changes than any of the previous games, basically transforming the series into the one we know today.|
Before Yondaime, the Taiko games were in low-resolution, with effects that would have looked more at home on PS1 hardware than on the PS2. I'm guessing that Namco might have upgraded their arcade hardware between 3 and 4, because in Yondaime, everything has been re-rendered at high resolution, with rich, gorgeous 2D effects. It's the same bold cartoon art style as before, only now much smoother and richer.
But the changes go deeper than just the visuals. The menus have been retooled. The old "Arcade" mode, which was always kind of silly on the home system, anyway (who wants to have to restart after playing just two songs?), is outta there. All songs now have easy, medium, and hard versions, and winning points or maybe crowns by playing the game unlocks additional songs and movie clips. Multiple save files are supported, and the game auto-saves after every song/minigame, so you don't have to worry about your scores being lost. There's some kind of multiplayer mode for 2-8 players, which is probably cool, but which I haven't had a chance to try.
All that is good stuff. Also good is the volume of content here: 40 songs (5 of which have to be unlocked), and 4 minigames.
On the other hand, 16 of those songs are "Namco Original," which tends to mean that they're pimped up versions of tunes from Namco games. These tend to be a real mixed bag, and sometimes it feels like they were specifically composed just to be a bitch to play on the Taiko, with ridiculous tempo changes, and obscure rhythms.
As far as the minigames go, the first three are the same as appeared later in the "Taiko Drum Master" edition released in the States (see entry 930), and I only really like one of them anyway (the dog-stacking helicopter one). The fourth has a dog serving you bowls of food, and you have to match the rhythm of a rhyme shouted at you by an annoying boy across the table before you can eat the food. Either the rhythm detection is extremely picky, or there's something specified in the Japanese characters that he shouts out that directs you to drum in a very specific way, but I can hardly get credit for any of the matches, which makes this game not-so-fun.
The overhauled song select menu could be better, too; as it is, you have to select the difficulty every time you pick a song, and you can't see which songs you've cleared just by scanning the song list, because the little crown icons that indicate the status don't appear until you've highlighted an individual song in the list.
Still, the overhaul is a significant improvement. Oh, and you can restart a song midway through, or quit to the song selection menu or the main menu, which is really nice. So yeah, good changes here, and with a few minor tweaks, and maybe some content that's more to my taste, it should just be a short journey to a perfect Taiko game from here.