Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack Review
Reviewing compilation titles is always more than a little tricky - particularly when the titles in question are seeing their first releases outside of Japan. Like the name might suggest, Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack isn't exactly a "new" entry for the Taiko drum-inspired rhythm game series - rather it's an HD port of both the 2nd and 3rd 3DS games in the series, now rather lifelessly listed as "Rhythmic Adventure 1" and "Rhythmic Adventure 2" in the title's main menu. This, of course, won't mean much for anybody that never played those games- which is undoubtedly a ton of people, especially considering that importing 3DS games was trickier than it was for other last-gen consoles, considering the system's inherent region-lock.
What complicates matters further, of course, is that this isn't the only Taiko game to have released on Switch - Drum 'n' Fun released for the system back in 2018 and has continued to receive DLC updates since - with updates continuing to roll in. While Rhythmic Adventure Pack gives players access to tons of songs that might not otherwise be available, that alone wouldn't necessarily justify the game's existence when the songs could otherwise be added as DLC to Drum 'n' Fun.
This is where the "Story Modes" for Rhythmic Adventure 1 and 2 come in - miniature 8 to 10 hour long RPG adventures, where Don and Katsu-chan engage in wacky adventures through time and dimensions - performing Taiko battles against random encounters, leveling up, equipping gear, recruiting new members for your party with their own unique attributes, and more. Unlike some other games that I've played recently that purported to include RPG elements within their story modes, Rhythmic Adventure Pack indeed offers a true RPG experience outside of the normal rhythm game trappings that you would expect. You've even got dungeons, towns, NPCs, sidequests (with charming side challenges such as clearing a song with a certain score, hitting a specific combo ranking, etc), and boss battles with their own unique mechanics.
None of these RPG elements are incredibly deep, of course, but for someone that is just getting into rhythm games - maybe they really enjoyed their time with Drum 'n' Fun after a parent bought it for them - it's another very cool way to experience the series. The RPG mode probably does enough to justify a separate purchase with two of these adventures included with the package. However, there are a few caveats you might want to consider: the English translation leaves a lot to be desired, and some aspects of Rhythmic Adventure 1's story, in particular, are more than a little concerning to some rather unfortunate transphobic content.
To be blunt - the translation simply isn't good, folks. It's actually pretty dang poor, even. The dialog is stilted, filled with the telltale signs of a rushed and overly literal translation, and even stuff as simple as text formatting comes across as phoned in. Why does half of the system text use one font, but the other half uses an incredibly basic font that doesn't really fit with the rest of the presentation? There are some outright translation errors, too, but something tells me folks probably won't care about that much with this game versus others. For as much as I might've harped on Trails of Cold Steel 4's localization a few months ago, those issues pale in comparison to the ones here - and then that's not even touching the transphobic character.
There's really not too much to say here - one of the main antagonists in Rhythmic Adventure 1's story is Pietro, a character portraying an Okama stereotype, complete with a deep voice, 5 o'clock shadow, and a cleft chin. Now... I'm definitely not one to really go in-depth with this type of character, but the way that they're outright told that they make scenes awkward, and the way that they're portrayed as a villain in the story makes them feel mean-spirited as an inclusion, even if by the end of the story they’re on good terms with Don and Katsu. It was already questionable when the game came out on 3DS years ago - and time has only made it worse.
Besides those issues, the other major complaints I have with the package are the fact that you cannot use the Hori Taiko drum accessory during the story mode, even though it does work within the regular Taiko mode with no issues. A few songs have been cut from the game during the conversion to Switch - most notably Senbonzakura, albeit for understandable reasons - and have been replaced with a few songs new to these versions, most notably Demon Slayer's anime opening.
Something incredibly frustrating with this package is that despite both games now existing in one package, the tracklists are still segregated by game. If you want to hop from a song playable in Rhythmic Adventure 1 to one available in Rhythmic Adventure 2, you have to back all the way out of the game to the main menu to switch to the other game, and then head into Taiko Mode there to play it. It's incredibly janky, and I'm sure there must've been a better way to handle this. There's also no multiplayer of any kind now, not even local, so that's cool I guess.
At the end of the day, Rhythmic Adventure Pack more or less succeeds at what it sets out to do - but the complete lack of ambition from the package is hard to ignore. It's still probably worth picking up if you're a fan of rhythm games on Switch, especially if you want to try out the RPG modes, but it's difficult to say that it's a stand out rhythm game on the platform when titles like Project Diva Mega-Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, and even Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum 'n' Fun are already there for players to enjoy.