gi­ta­roo Man

■ pub­lisher: Inis ■ Year: 2001

Retro Gamer - - MINORITY REPORT -

The PS2 is home to a num­ber of un­der­rated mu­sic games, and Gi­ta­roo Man hap­pens to be one of our favourites. U-1 (a Ja­panese pun for Yuichi) is a loser school­boy who is trans­formed into the heroic Gi­ta­roo Man af­ter be­ing gifted a Gi­ta­roo by the talk­ing dog Puma. His job is to fend off a va­ri­ety of en­e­mies in mu­si­cal bat­tles us­ing the Gi­ta­roo.

Bat­tles have a few steps. Firstly, there’s a charge phase, in which you build your life bar. This in­volves fol­low­ing a di­rec­tional track with the left ana­logue stick, and press­ing a but­ton in time to the on-screen prompts. Then, in the bat­tle proper, you’ll use this process to at­tack, and de­fend your­self by hit­ting the four main con­troller but­tons as icons fly from the edge of the screen to the cen­tre. You’ll al­ter­nate be­tween these at­tack and de­fence phases un­til ei­ther U-1 or his op­po­nent is de­feated.

While the in-game ac­tion is well de­signed, it’s the mu­sic you play to and the story that un­folds that you’ll re­mem­ber. The sound­track from the Ja­panese duo COIL is ex­cel­lent, and the game’s sig­na­ture track The Leg­endary Theme de­serves to be men­tioned in any con­ver­sa­tion about the great­est mu­sic in videogames – par­tic­u­larly the bril­liant acous­tic ver­sion, which plays dur­ing a sen­ti­men­tal stage in the mid­dle of the game.

Gi­ta­roo Man didn’t sell very well orig­i­nally, and the cur­rent go­ing rate is £15. This price is al­ready start­ing to creep up as the game gains pop­u­lar­ity via word of mouth, de­spite the ex­is­tence of a much cheaper PSP con­ver­sion. Thank­fully, the de­vel­oper lived on to give us Osu! Tatake! Ouen­dan/elite Beat Agents and the pop­u­lar Lips se­ries of Xbox 360 karaoke games.

[PS2] Spinal Tap would have loved light­ning-shoot­ing gui­tars. Thank the gods no­body let the group have any.

[PS2] Best level in any mu­sic game ever? Maybe – it def­i­nitely runs Parappa’s toi­let stage close.

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