OSU! Fight and Cheer with all your might! One Year special…

July 29th, 2006 by Tommy Gun

Ouendan.jpgNote: This was written by GDSage on 7/28/06, and posted on the Ouendan board. Reposted here with his permission for archival purposes, and because we think it sums up why people love the game very well:

Today is the day that a fantastic little gem going by the name of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was released exactly one year ago.

Why is this game still being remembered? Well, it’s true that Ouendan was released in Japan to little fanfare, even more disappointingly it never really caught on in sales. But none of this matters much, because despite Ouendan not exactly being (let’s be honest here) the commercial success it was never really going to be, it did do something magical regardless, and that was to create a small, yet powerful legion of fans that still to this day (proudly) toot their horns in the name of this great, great game.

But why?

As first impressions go, the deceptively simple yet fun mechanics at play seems unlikely to stand the test of extended play, that its novelty will soon wear off as most good things usually do. And you’ll keep thinking this, even after you’ve completed your second stage, then the third, the fourth, fifth… and before you know it you’re fifteen stages in, foot tapping manically to a rhythm that hasn’t kicked in yet, stylus hand ever so slightly shaking from a combination of exhaustion and anticipation for what is bound to be another failure on your account, and suddenly the realisation hits you; how has this game pulled you in in such a way?

It’s a question I think many who first experience Ouendan come to ask themselves and it’s a tricky one to answer.

Or maybe not. After you are left scratching your head over why it’s suddenly four in the morning, and realised you’ve yet to take a shower the answer becomes quite clear. You’ve had fun, and fifteen stages of it too (and that’s without the number of frustrating yet still enjoyable retries). What is normally an elusive meaning in many games nowadays, manages to fire on all cylinders throughout this one, which is a credit to developer iNiS as it’s quite a feat to create a game that pulls you right the way in and never lets go until the ending credits roll. Even more a feat when you go through the whole process again thanks to the expansive difficulty modes which makes what should be the same process feel fresh again.

But this is but one part to why Ouendan is easily an all-time classic. There’s something more to the game than just the great gameplay, as well as its music and artstyle, and funnily enough it comes in the form of characters, or rather a bunch of them.

Whether it be falling in love, coming to a realisation within one’s own personal life, or just simply passing an exam – what would normally take a good length movie/book/comic/manga to express, Ouendan manages to compress it into a mere three-minute segment whilst losing none of the potency. It’s difficult to believe that anyone could play through the beautifully sad Ghost story for the first time and not fight back a runaway tear or two.

And I think everyone can agree this is the true beauty of Ouendan. The games inhabiting characters are all so instantly likable, that you’re like putty in their hands by the time their brief, individual intro has rolled past your eyes, with them ready to pull your heartstrings in the way they see fit. To the extent that the game soon becomes less about simply ‘moving to the rhythm’ but rather ‘giving it your all to help another in need’. You really do become determined to see each and every one succeed, as you begin to cheer with all your might not only in the game, but in your mind as well, and that’s what makes every individual experience within Ouendan as well as the overall experience so unforgettable.

…And I think that’s a great accomplishment for a ‘mere’ game to have. It’s simply pure magic.

So here’s to iNiS, for giving us a game worth remembering and celebrating over, and here’s to all you Ouendan fans (and hopefully soon-to-be-ones) because without us this game would not be remembered and celebrated as it should be.

OUENDAN!