Gitaroo Man

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Gitaroo Man
Gitaroo Man
European PS2 boxart
Developer(s) Koei
Publisher(s) Koei
THQ (Europe)
Designer(s) Keiichi Yano
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
Release date(s) PlayStation 2
  • JP June 21, 2001
  • NA February 18, 2002
  • EU June 21, 2002
PlayStation Portable
  • JP June 8, 2006
  • EU September 29, 2006
  • NA November 14, 2006
Genre(s) Music
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Gitaroo Man (ギタルマン Gitaru Man?) is a rhythm video game developed by iNiS and published by Koei for PlayStation 2. The game features visual production by Mitsuru Nakamura and an original soundtrack by Japanese band COIL. The game was released in Japan on June 21, 2001, in North America on February 18, 2002 and in Europe on June 21, 2002. A port of the game for PlayStation Portable, titled Gitaroo Man Lives! (known as Gitaroo Man Live! (ギタルマンライブ! Gitaru Man Raibu!?) in Japan), was released in 2006.


The player character is U-1, a young boy who is frequently ridiculed by classmates and passed over by Little Pico, the girl of his dreams. The story proper begins when Puma, a dog with the ability to speak, teaches U-1 to play the guitar, simultaneously teaching the controls of the game to the player, and subsequently revealing to him that he is the last legendary hero of Planet Gitaroo, and the possessor of the Last Gitaroo. When they are then attacked, Puma transforms into Puma AC-30 and gives U-1 the Gitaroo, transforming him into Gitaroo Man.


Each battle comprises a separate level, divided into five types of sections:

  • Charge: Successful notes charge up energy for battle.
  • Attack: Successful notes deplete enemy's energy. Misses deplete player's energy.
  • Guard: Successful presses avoid attack. Misses deplete player's energy.
  • Harmony: Same as Attack phase, although this is not broken up by Guard phases.
  • End: Same as Harmony, but player's energy does not deplete if notes are missed.

The exceptions to this format are "Void", which is purely Guard phase, and "Legendary Theme (Acoustic)" which is purely Attack phase. These songs, as well as "Overpass/Legendary Theme (Album Version)" are excluded from the multiplayer mode.

An example of Gitaroo Man's charge mode.

Each level typically opens with a Charge phase, in which the player increases his or her health through playing the Gitaroo. A series of alternating Attack and Guard phases follows, in which the player attempts to drop his opponent's health bar by playing the Gitaroo, and avoids the same by dodging incoming attacks, respectively. If the player survives until the end of the song, then he must complete the Harmony phase to finish the level. The opponent's health bar doesn't so much represent his/her health as it does the progress through the song. If a player does not deal enough damage to an opponent by the end of a segment, that segment will be repeated (with the exception of some levels, most battle phases have two different tunes per segment, that are randomly selected each time a level is played.)

During the Charge, Attack, and Harmony phases, a line called the "trace line" scrolls toward a dot in the center of the screen (the "attack point") from outside of the visible area. There are yellow circles with orange tails on the trace line (called "phrase bars") corresponding to the rhythm of the song. When the beginning of a phrase bar reaches the attack point, the player must follow the direction of the trace line with the analogue stick while simultaneously pressing any face button for the duration of each phase bar.

In the Charge phase, successfully completing a phase bar grants the player a little more health; in Attack phases, completing phase bars drops the opponent's health, while missing them drops a little of the player's health. The Harmony phase acts the same as an Attack phase, but at this point the enemy's health is irrelevant. The End phase is similar, except the player will no longer lose health at this point. The magnitude of the gain in health or drop in opponent's health depends on how accurately the player hit the phase bar. Long phase bars can give their effect a second time if the button is released before the end of the bar, the bonus being greater the longer the button is held.

The phase bars tie into the music by fading in Gitaroo Man's guitar track in the song when they are hit, and causing it to fade back out when missed. Thus, the quality of the player's game playing ties in with the quality of Gitaroo Man's guitar playing.

The Guard phase differs in that the player is responsible for pressing one of the four buttons on the controller at the correct time; the analog stick is not used. Corresponding to the layout of these buttons, a triangle scrolls in from the top of the screen, a circle from the right, a square from the left, and an X from the bottom. When these icons hit the aforementioned attack point in the center, usually following the rhythm of the opponent's part of the music, the player must press the corresponding button to avoid losing health.

Most of the game's music uses a call and response pattern in order to allow for alternating Attack and Guard phases, with Gitaroo Man and his rival dominant in each respectively. The Charge and Harmony phases are typical intros and codas, with the rival tending to musically dominate the Charge phase, and Harmony phase led by Gitaroo Man.

At the end of each level, the player is given a rank based on their performance, as well as an item for the Collection, unlocking character bios. An additional item is obtained if the player can obtain an A or S rank in that level. Further items can be collected in Master's Play mode.

Master's Play[edit]

When the game is completed once, the levels (except the tutorial) can be played in Master's Play mode. In this mode, symbols come onto the screen faster, and misses cause more damage. Also, in the majority of levels (some levels like "The Legendary Theme (Acoustic Version) keep the same layout), button presses are a lot more frequent and some phase bars are longer with fewer breaks in between them.

Vs. Mode[edit]

This mode can be played with 2 or 4 players (or one player against a computer, but only when a second controller is plugged in.) Choosing one of the available songs, Player 1 plays Gitaroo Man's music while Player 2 plays the villain's music. Some of the songs are reformatted to support the 2 player (for example, "Born to be Bone" features more parts for Gitaroo Man to play.) If one side manages to deplete the other side's energy, they'll win. If by the end of the song the players are still standing, the side with the most life remaining will play the Harmony segment alone, thus winning, and the results screen will be displayed.

Duet Mode[edit]

Exclusive to the PSP version, this mode is playable with two players over ad hoc, although it can played with one player provided the ad hoc switch is on. This mode has two exclusive levels to play on, with Player 1 controlling Gitaroo Man and Player 2 controlling Kirah. Gameplay is identical to the single player mode, albeit both players share a single life bar, which each player having half.


U-1 (ユウイチ Yūichi?, pronounced 'you-one' in the English version)
Voiced by: Jun Mizuki (Japanese), Lenne Hardt (English)
The game's protagonist. U-1 has a romantic attachment to Pico but is constantly upstaged by his natural rival, Kazuya. When the player is introduced, U-1 has very little self confidence and rarely, if ever, is able to stand up for himself, but throughout the course of the game he gradually develops self-esteem, and afterward, a more extroverted personality.
Gitaroo Man (ギタルマン Gitaru Man?)
The alter ego of U-1 and the last of the legendary heroes of Planet Gitaroo. U-1 transforms into Gitaroo Man whenever he is challenged to a battle. Wields the legendary last Gitaroo. It is said Gitaroo Man will reveal his true form when all eight Gitaroos are one.
Puma (プーマ Pūma?)
Voiced by: Mitsuo Iwata (Japanese), Ryan Drees (English)
U-1's loyal talking pet dog, who isn't even sure himself how long he's been in U-1's family. He is responsible for teaching U-1 everything about battling. Whenever a challenge appears, he transforms into Puma AC-30 and throws U-1 the Gitaroo.
Pico (ピコ Piko?)
Voiced by: Machiko Toyoshima (Japanese), Bianca Allen (English)
One of U-1's classmates and the girl of his dreams. She is always with Kazuya to U-1's dismay.
Kazuya (かずや?)
Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese), Douglas Kirk (English)
A snobby classmate of U-1 who comes from a rich family. He is great at skateboarding, is a straight-A student, and is U-1's social rival.
Kirah (キラ Kira?)
Voiced by: Machiko Toyoshima (Japanese), Bianca Allen (English)
Kirah is one of the main characters, who bears a striking resemblance to Pico. She is identified as a powerful, if misguided warrior of Gravillians who eventually turns over to Gitaroo Man's side to help him defeat Zowie. She is voiced by Bianca Allen in the English version.
Zowie (ゾーイ Zōi?)
Voiced by: Akira Ishida (Japanese), Douglas Kirk (English)
The prince of the Gravillians and the antagonist of the storyline. His desire for power has led him to an attempt at collecting the eight legendary Gitaroos (of which he already has seven), which can, together, control the universe.
Panpeus (パンパス Panpasu?)
Voiced by: Norio Yoshitake (Japanese), Lisle Wilkerson (English)
A devil wearing a black diaper using the Axe Gitaroo. He is the first Gravillian to fight U-1. He warps the reality in U-1's room, but is sucked back into his own portal in the end.
Flying-O (フライング・オー Furaingu Ō?)
A UFO robot (mistaken as a hamburger) Gravillian that uses a built-in Synth Gitaroo. His minions (othwise known as Little-O's) fires "Dance-Till-Death" rays that forces victims to dance against their own will. Flying-O is defeated by U-1, he and his minions (along with U-1 and Puma) crash into the forest.
Mojo King Bee (モジョキング Bee Mojo Kingu Bī?)
Voiced by: Kaleb James
A Gravillian dressed in a bee and disco suit who plays the Trumpet Gitaroo. He is defeated by sinking into the swamp whose animals he controlled.
Ben-K (ベン-K?)
A shark that U-1 must escape on the way to planet Gitaroo; he later transforms into Mecha Ben-K, who uses his Turn Table Gitaroos on his pecs to do damage. He is hurtled into space by Gitaroo Man's "Woofer-Mazing" and explodes.
Sanbone Trio (サンボーン トリオ Sanbōn Torio?)
Three skeletons who use their own bones as Gitaroos. Their names are Carrot (キャロット Kyarotto?), Pine (パイヌ Pain?) and Soda (ソーダ Sōda?). Their pelvic bones are shaped on DualShock controllers. The life is sucked out of them when their Gitaroo is taken.
Gregorio Siegfried Wilhelm III (グレゴーリオ・ヴィルヘルムⅢ Guregōrio Viruherumu III?)
Voiced by: Atsushi Kisaichi (Japanese), Brian Matt Uhl (English)
A Gravillian who operates a cathedral as his Gitaroo, located on Planet Gitaroo itself. He is obsessed with his own beauty and constantly screams 'Mama' at the top of his lungs. He also narrates the character bios on the Collection screen.
Miranda the Elder (長老 ミランダ Chōrō Miranda?)
Voiced by: Naoko Tatsuda (Japanese), Paul Lucas (English)
An old man who lives on Planet Gitaroo. He is the one who sends the request for Gitaroo Man's help when he and his people are captured by the Gravillians. According to his character bio, he used to be the greatest Gitaroo player in the known universe until he became a prisoner.
Ming Ming (眠眠?)
Voiced by: Naomi Shindō (Japanese), Lisle Wilkerson (English)
Zowie's pet cat, who likes to jeer at Puma. She appears as a boss character in the PSP version, where she uses a giant samba machine.
Kai-Kakoon (カイカクーン Kai Kakūn?)
A giant robot who threatens the city in the PSP version. Uses his army of bats to do his bidding.
The backup band
A group of musicians dressed in animal suits, who follow U-1 throughout the Cosmos. Their names are Noren (ノレン?) (rabbit suit), Yung (ユン?) (monkey suit) and Mr. Yasuda (安田-さん Yasuda-san?) (panda suit). They are almost always seen at one point in every level.


  • Boogie For An Afternoon
  • Twisted Reality
  • Flyin' to your Heart
  • Bee Jam Blues
  • VOID
  • Nuff Respect, featuring NAHKI
  • The Legendary Theme (Acoustic version)
  • Born to be Bone
  • Tainted Lovers
  • Overpass/The Legendary Theme (Album version)
  • Resurrection

The following songs are exclusive to the PSP remake, Gitaroo Man Lives!, in the Duel mode.

  • Metal Header
  • Toda Pasion


The Gitaroo Man Original Soundtrack is an audio CD released in 2001, containing the majority of the songs found in the PS2 video game Gitaroo Man. While it is missing the background music played during the Collection viewing mode and the Master Mode versions of songs, it does have four Ropeland remixes of other songs.


Edge awarded the game a score of 7 out of 10;[1] the game was later included in that magazine's staff- and reader-voted "Top 100 Games" list published in July 2007.[2] Despite a number of positive reviews, the North American and European versions of Gitaroo Man were produced in very low quantities by Koei and, as a result, have become somewhat rare; it is regarded as a cult video game.[citation needed] Around November 2005 in North America, copies of Gitaroo Man began popping up in GameStop game stores. This was due to a reprint by GameQuestDirect, similar to their previous reprints of PlayStation RPGs Persona 2 and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, both of which were previously very rare. The game was also reissued in Europe around this time.

Other versions[edit]

The European box art for Gitaroo Man Lives!

Gitaroo Man Wan[edit]

Gitaroo Man Wan (ギタルマン ワン?) is a budget trial version of the game, released in Japan on April 5, 2001.[3] Along with a demo of the game's second stage and exclusive cinematic scenes, the game also features an exclusive minigame in which players control Puma as he tries to eat donuts falling from the sky.

Gitaroo Man Lives![edit]

Gitaroo Man Lives!, known in Japan as Gitaroo Man Live! (ギタルマン ライブ! Gitaru Man Raibu!?), is a port of the game released for the PlayStation Portable. Along with local Ad-Hoc multiplayer and additional difficulty options, the game adds a new Duet mode, in which two players control Gitaroo Man and Kirah in two exclusive new stages, "Metal Header" and "Toda Pasión". These levels may also be played alone if the handheld's Ad-Hoc is activated. The game was released in Japan on June 8, 2006, in Europe on September 29, 2006, and in North America on November 14, 2006.


  • Received IGN's award for Best PSP Music Game of 2006. [4]


  1. ^ Anon. Edge staff (September 2001). "Gitarooman". Edge (Bath: Future plc) (101): p. 83. 
  2. ^ Edge staff (2 July 2007). "Edge's Top 100 Games of All Time". Edge. Future plc. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^ 先行マキシシングル ギタルマン ワン: ゲーム
  4. ^

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