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Gitaroo-Man (PlayStation 2) artwork

Gitaroo-Man (PlayStation 2) review


"I have always hated references to "those crazy Japanese." It's a stereotypical comment that pigeon-holes an incredibly diverse culture. So what if they have heated toilet seats and talking toasters? We have hot dogs and Marilyn Manson. Every time I think I'm making headway with this argument, I get a game like Gitaroo-Man to throw all logic out the window. Honestly, how do you convince anyone that battling an Elvis impersonator in a bee costume is normal? Music games like Parappa the Rapper, Bus..."



I have always hated references to "those crazy Japanese." It's a stereotypical comment that pigeon-holes an incredibly diverse culture. So what if they have heated toilet seats and talking toasters? We have hot dogs and Marilyn Manson. Every time I think I'm making headway with this argument, I get a game like Gitaroo-Man to throw all logic out the window. Honestly, how do you convince anyone that battling an Elvis impersonator in a bee costume is normal? Music games like Parappa the Rapper, Bust-a-Groove, and Dance Dance Revolution have always been on the eccentric side, but this is ridiculous.

U-1, our strangely named protagonist, is not exactly heroic material. He's a school-age geek, to unsure of himself to ask out his crush, and too timid to fend off the bully. I'm not even sure if he qualifies as an underdog. Enter Puma, the family dog, who turns out to be a robotic messenger from space that unlocks the power within U-1. Now it's up to U-1 to race through the galaxy to save an oppressed society, fulfill his potential as the true Gitaroo-Man, and defeat the evil Zoe with the power of his guitar...thing (we're talking mystical-mechanical-rainbow phallus). To get there, he will have to strum his way through a diaper-wearing demon, a synth-pop alien invasion, a turntablist shark, and even a little romance.

Music is the weapon of choice, with instruments shooting out concussive blasts. Battles are divided into three possible phases; Charge, Attack, and Defend. Defending is the most familiar to the music genre. Just push the indicated face buttons and let the muscle cramps set in. Charge and Attack bring a new technique to the table. You need to make a radar-like cursor follow a winding track, pressing and holding any face button at marked intervals. It's harder than it sounds. On some of the longer tracks, my thumb kept sliding and sliding until I was hanging on by the nail. U-1 even dips and leans as you move the analog stick. It's a nice touch, especially for a little pre-game dancing. For you perfectionists, your beat matching skills are scored and awarded a final grade at the end of each stage. Good luck with getting those straight A's.

On to the most important, and tricky part of Gitaroo-man; the music. Whereas most music games specialize in a particular genre, Gitaroo-Man takes the jack-of-all trades route. There are ten stages, and each features a different style, ranging from jazz, to dub, to metal. There's no doubt that you will find something to rock out to, but the fact is, it's a love/hate situation for some of the songs. Maybe love/impartial is more accurate, as all of the songs are quite well done. At least you can always skip to previously beaten stages. I have a particular weakness for the last stage. I don't even care about the game at that point. I just want to hear that song running through me.

Even with online auctions of Gitaroo-Man currently fetching upwards of $100, I don't hesitate to recommend a purchase. As a testament to its lasting appeal, I have been playing Gitaroo-Man on a weekly basis for two years now. Before that, my nights were devoted to acing a one-level demo disc. If you have any friends left in the future, there is a two-player mode available, but the split-screen view can really be a nuisance. The single-player game is the heart of Gitaroo-man, and with three difficulties available, there's plenty of love to go around. Normal is for you beginners, as even Hard will have have you cursing your rhythmless soul. And Master Play, well, let's just say you better have Popeye forearms.


Rating: 9/10

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Community review by pup (August 18, 2005)

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