Ever needed to be a rock star? The type that brims with superhero vitality, that may dominate the stage and hypnotize the lots? Within the early 2000s, it appeared like each video gamer needed a part of the fantasy: being in a band touring the world, taking part in bought out crowds, and being fawned over by followers.
Possibly they’d additionally know each single be aware and have each lyric memorized. For mass audiences within the US, that was the driving drive behind long-running mega-hit sequence Guitar Hero and Rock Band. However this week marks the twentieth anniversary of a turbo-charged, insanely wacky cult basic that predated all of it. That sport was 2001’s Gitaroo Man, developed by Japanese sport studio Koei.
Gitaroo Man contained a lot of the stylistic, over-the-top design sensibility of different rhythm video games of the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s, together with the quirky PlayStation basic Parappa the Rapper, Konami’s arcade sensation Dance Dance Revolution, and even House Channel 5, a Sega Dreamcast unique about preventing aliens by distracting them with dance. Gitaroo Man opted for a unique instrument: the guitar. And it wasn’t nearly shredding. Guitar Hero’s made you are feeling like a musician, however Gitaroo Man captured the ego and vitality of being the guitar hero.
The sport is pure Japanese gaming bliss. Gitaroo Man was launched in Japan on June 21, 2001, and the next February within the US on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console. It acquired vital acclaim from hardcore gaming publications like Edge and Subsequent Era, who praised its vitality, soundtrack, and distinctive artwork path. It gained cult standing nearly instantly, thanks partially to its raucous cowl artwork. However in a 12 months crammed with triple-A heavyweights like Metallic Gear Strong 2, Ultimate Fantasy X, and Silent Hill 2, Gitaroo Man slipped below the radar. Twenty years later although, it stands out as emblematic of the whimsical, frenetic, rhythm-driven video games of the time interval.
On the coronary heart of Gitaroo Man is a younger boy named U-1, an all-around loser archetype who will get bullied by his classmates. Each a coming-of-age and revenge story, when Gitaroo Man begins U-1 doesn’t have a complete lot of prospects. Quickly sufficient, although, a speaking canine named Puma affords to show him to play guitar. It doesn’t take lengthy for Puma to disclose his true agenda: He’s the “final legendary hero of Planet Gitaroo,” possessing the Final Gitaroo, a robust, magic-infused legendary axe.
If that wasn’t bizarre sufficient, a wave of enemies instantly assaults Puma and U-1, who makes use of the Gitaroo to struggle again. After the battle, Puma convinces U-1 to hitch him into preventing the Gravillian Empire, which has taken over Planet Gitaroo. The sport takes you from withdrawn younger boy to budding interplanetary hero in coaching—full with buying a legendary guitar—in report time. Whereas trying to save lots of Planet Gitaroo, U-1 learns to play his instrument to “win over” everybody, proving that he’s not solely cool but additionally a legendary hero of galactic proportions.
The gameplay of Gitaroo Man is just like different rhythm video games of the period: vibrant graphics with a thread of prompts rolling throughout the display. You assault and defend by timing every button press and swarm of mixtures to that on-screen scroll. A special J-pop guitar-infused monitor serves because the narrative for every stage, as U-1 fights his means by the forces of the Gravillian Empire. A typical battle has three phases—cost, assault, and guard—mimicking a standard boss struggle. The setting of every stage evolves and reacts to each the tune and the efficiency, making a palpable sense of vitality, a cascading wave of hype, proper as much as the extent’s denouement. Did we point out that this sport is nuts?
The sport by no means actually had an opportunity. It bought poorly within the US however fared a bit higher in its native Japan, sadly not sufficient in any market to warrant a sequel. Sony did re-release the sport on its first handheld console, the PlayStation Moveable, additionally to depressing gross sales.
And but, true to its cult basic standing, the sport turned a touchstone for hardcore players and a rarity in retro-gaming gathering circles. Whereas it is not not possible to search out right now, it is not straightforward both until you recognize the place to look.
Lately, rhythm video games are in a downswing. The occasional curiosity like Fuser retains the style on life help. Nonetheless, the simulation facet of music-related video games has maybe lastly run its course. But there’s one thing to be mentioned concerning the video games that proceed their modest life with out ever reaching mainstream consideration. Each now and again, a Gitaroo Man thread on a video games discussion board will pop up that extols its uniqueness, or a YouTube video that excitedly dissects the sport’s music and story line. On Spotify you’ll find playlists containing Gitaroo Man battle tracks created by like-minded followers. It’s all proof that 20 years later, the sport stays unforgotten, and nonetheless holds up.
Maybe it has to do with the transportive escapism that distinguish good video games. So what when you aren’t actually taking part in the notes on the guitar or jamming out with a band? In Gitaroo Man, you’re the rock star, a hero actually saving the world.