Throwback Thursday: Gitaroo Man

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Throwback Thursday is an article series where I, Bear, play one of those “old games” and then I write about what I thought of it. Sometimes it’ll be me talking about an old gem, or other times it may be a bargain bin game NES cart I got that I’ve never heard of before. But I’ll play it, tell you about it, and then the rest is up for grabs.

Gitaroo Man is a music and rhythm game for the PS2 developed by KOEI and iNiS. Original released in America in 2002, and it apparently was a very niche title, with KOEI not really producing that many copies of it back in the day.

Gitarro Man you play as a teenage(?) boy named U-1, and you have a dog that gives you super powers named Puma. Puma throws a gitaroo to U-1 when he needs to do battle. When U-1 gets his Gitaroo, he powers up into GITAROO MAN. Using music as the weapon to defeat his foes.

A stage in Gitaroo Man consists of: A small cut scene with some plot in it. Then an enemy appears, and he demands combat. You then start playing in the “charge” phase. During which, you’re playing successful lines in the song to build up Gitaroo Man’s health bar. By “playing” what you’re actually doing is lining up an arrow with a line on the screen, and then timing button presses as you follow the track with the left stick.

Then transitioning to the “battle” phase. You play the same kind of licks to shoot lightning out of your Gitaroo at your foe. And on the flip side, you then defend against attacks by lining up the face buttons as they fall from their designated directions in the correct sequence. After you have weakened the enemy, you then proceed to a phase simliar to the first, where you’re just playing you’re Gitaroo well enough to keep doing damage until your foe is SMITED WITH THE POWER OF ROCK.

Gitaroo Man is on all accounts, a fun game. The soundtrack to this game is really tight. Has a really cool mix of rock, JPOP, some hip hop jazz, it’s all over the place, and all of it for me is really good. This is a hard feat in a rhythm game. A lot of times you’re kind of looking for songs that you recognize, and in Gitaroo Man’s original score, it does a really good job of providing the player with a wide range of music for the game. (Bee Jam Blues is by far my favorite.)

Gitaroo Man is, really hard. Like, really hard. I was stuck on Stage 4 for a long time, leading me to one of my main complaints about Gitaroo Man. Stage 4 is the defense sequence against Ben-K, and in it, you are only defending, which is the part where you line up the face buttons. Unlike the gitaroo sections where you can see the track you have to go on, and what’s coming up and the specific sequence of notes you have to play, the defense parts come in on four separate tracks, coming from the four cardinal directions. This is leads to confusion when you’re trying to figure out what button comes next, especially in really fast sections like the Ben-K stage I talked about earlier. The notes come in so fast, and I felt it was by pure lucked that I sneaked through that stage. In a rhythm game, I think you need to make it clear what comes next in the sequence of notes, otherwise what’s the point?

Over all though, I really liked what I played of Gitaroo Man. And I want to finish it. The art style is really interesting and it comes from a time when games could be just weird as all hell, and I kind of miss that. But Gitaroo Man is a good game, and if you like weird games and rhythm games, you should try to find yourself a copy.

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