Taiko no Tatsujin

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A Taiko no Tatsujin 12 arcade machine

Taiko no Tatsujin (太鼓の達人?) is a series of rhythm games created by Namco. The series has seen releases for the arcade, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Wii U, iOS, Advanced Pico Beena, and mobile phones.

While the series is mainly designed for use within Japan, there are also official releases for other regions, including one North American release on PlayStation 2 using full English and two Chinese arcades accommodated for Asian regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Other releases can also be seen in other regions despite not officially exported.


As the song plays, symbols (formally called notes (音符 onpu?)) will appear and moves from right to left across the grey scroll bar in the centre. Respective hits to the drums should be done as the notes reaches the hit mark towards the left to receive score and build up the spirit gauge (魂ゲージ tamashii gēji?).


Symbols that would appear, their respective kuchi shōga (口唱歌?) representations and how it should be hit includes:

  • Red marker (don (ドン?)): hit the drum at its face
  • Blue marker (katu (カッ?)): hit the drum at its rim (i.e. the edge/outside of the drum)
  • Large red/blue marker (shown as don (dai) (ドン(大)?)kat (dai) (カッ(大)?)): similar to the smaller counterparts, but the score for this note doubles when hitting hard enough on the drum (in all arcade releases), hitting (pressing buttons) on both sides of the drum (in all console releases), or tapping on center regions of the touchscreen drum (alternatively on all Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS releases).
    • Hand-holding large markers (known specifically as te tsunagi onpu (手つなぎ音符?) but not shown): only available in multiplayer gameplay (except wireless multiplayer). The score bonus only applies if all players hit the notes successfully.
  • Yellow bar (renda (連打?)): repeatedly hit don or kat as many times as possible across its length. This does not contribute to building up the spirit gauge, only to give players bonus points.
  • Balloon (fūsen onpu (風船音符?), but shown as geki-renda (ゲキ連打?)): repeatedly hit don for the designated number of times within the time limit. An extra bonus will be given upon completion of the note until counter hits 0. This note is available in arcade releases since 3 and in all console releases. This does not contribute to building up the spirit gauge, only to give players bonus points.
  • Yam (imo-renda (イモ(芋)連打?)) or Kusudama (くす玉?) ball: repeatedly hit don for the designated number of times within the time limit. An extra bonus will be given upon completion of the note, a quicker completion resulting in a higher bonus. In multiplayer gameplay (except wireless multiplayer), the note is shared between all players. In arcade releases, the yam note is available in 7 through 14 and replaced by the kusudama ball note since the new arcade. For console, the yam note debuted in Go! Go! Godaime and is present in all subsequent console releases, making the note withdrawn in Portable, Portable 2 and all Nintendo DS releases, and finally replaced by the kusudama ball note from Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb and Wii Chogouka-Ban. This does not contribute to building up the spirit gauge, only to give players bonus points.
  • Bell (suzudon (すずどん(鈴)?)): rotate the analogue stick on the PlayStation Portable. This note is available only in Portable and Portable 2. This does not contribute to building up the spirit gauge, only to give players bonus points.
  • Hand drum (denden (でんでん?)): hit don and kat alternatively for the designated number of times within the time limit. An extra bonus will be given upon completion of the note. This note is available only in the Nintendo DS releases. This does not contribute to building up the spirit gauge, only to give players bonus points.
  • Giant red/blue marker (known as kyodai onpu (巨大音符?) but not shown since it covers the kuchi shōga bar): similar to the smaller counterparts, but multiple additional notes are spawned across an incoming length depending on the hit accuracy. Spawned notes differ from regular notes in appearance with a ring of shining glitter around them, but are hit the same way. This note is available only in Nintendo Wii releases.
  • Item note (アイテム音符 aitemu onpu?, white question mark over a rainbow-colored background with white, floral rims): can be hit on any side of the taiko, followed by a randomly chosen power-up item. This note is available only in competitive multiplayer gameplay in console releases since DS Touch de Dokodon. The note is omitted in the PSP versions.
  • Bomb (bakudan onpu (ばくだん音符?)): The players can hit the note on either side of the taiko. However, this will ruin the player's health. As a result, players are recommended to avoid this note. To date, this note is available only in boss battles in DS Nanatsu no Shima no Daibouken, DS Dororon! Yokai Daikessen!!, Wii Do Don to 2 Daime, Portable DX, and Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb.
  • Duel note (ゲキトツ音符 gekitotsu onpu?): Based on wrestling. This note used to hit any side of the taiko repeatedly more than your opponent does within the time limit. To date, this note is available only in boss battles in Wii Do Don to 2 Daime.

Notes may sometimes be swapped out for other kinds for one same song when it is included in multiple releases and the note availability varies. This happen most frequently between yam/kusadama notes and denden notes.


The first Taiko no Tatsujin arcade release features three difficulty levels: Easy (かんたん kantan?), Normal (ふつう futsū?) and Hard (むずかしい muzukashii?). A fourth difficulty level is added to the game in subsequent releases, named Donderful (ドンダフル dondafuru?, allegedly a portmanteau of the onomatopoeic drum sound "don" and "wonderful") in arcade releases 2 through 6 and Oni (おに?, lit. demon) in other releases. The Donderful/Oni difficulty level often requires to be unlocked in order to be played.

In earlier releases, some songs were only available in only some of the difficulty levels. From 7 and Atsumare! Matsuri da!! Yondaime onwards, all included songs are available for play in all four difficulty level.

Inner notecharts[edit]

Since 11 and Wii Do Don to 2 Daime, selected songs may also receive inner notecharts (裏譜面 ura fumen?), or alternate note sequences for the same song. A lot of the time (but not all) inner notecharts are more difficult than their regular counterparts.

Initially, for certain songs, inner notecharts can alternatively mean an alternate version of the song is used, or (in arcade releases) the song is swapped out for a completely different song not playable by regular means. These effects were gradually done away since the new arcade and Portable DX, where alternate versions are separated into separate songs by means of adding tags. Notable examples of the separation is the song Senpū no Mai (旋風ノ舞?) becoming Senpū no Mai [Heaven] (旋風ノ舞【天】 senpū no mai [ten]?) and Senpū no Mai [Earth] (旋風ノ舞【地】 senpū no mai [chi]?) in the new arcade and Plus, and the long version Fūun! Bachio Sensei (風雲!バチお先生?) is promptly renamed as Fūun! Bachio Sensei Long Version (風雲!バチお先生 ロングバージョン?) instead of its inner notecharts in the downloadable content for Portable DX.

Gameplay options[edit]

Various aspects of the game can be changed to the player's liking.

Alternate Taiko drum sounds[edit]

A selection of alternate sounds can be used to replace the regular Taiko drum sounds in gameplay. Other gameplay elements are technically not affected by this option, but some sets of drum sounds may impose degrees of nuisance during gameplay depending on the quality.

Alternate Taiko drum sounds are available in all console releases, usually as unlockable content as the player progresses through the game and are accessed in dedicated sub-menus. This is not implemented in arcade versions until 11, since which Taiko sounds can be changed by hitting left rim while landing on the leftmost difficulty choice during difficulty selection. In the new arcade alternate Taiko sounds can be changed in the Gameplay Options sub-menu.


Several modifiers can be activated to change note sequences or increase difficulty for advanced players. Currently available modifiers includes:

  • Auto (オート?): the song is played automatically, often used by players to preview the song and the notes achieving a full combo. This is available in all console releases but never in arcade releases.
  • Hidden (ドロン doron?): the symbols will disappear, leaving only the kuchi shōga. This is available since 7 and Go! Go! Godaime.
  • Speed modifiers, named Double speed (ばいぞく baizoku?), Triple speed (さんばい sanbai?) and Quadruple speed (よんばい yonbai?): the symbols move faster. The song is still played at the same speed. These are available since 8 and Wai Wai Happy! Rokudaime.
  • Perfect (かんぺき kanpeki?): The song will immediately end once a note is missed, often resulting in a direct failure if the spirit gauge is not filled to the passing mark. This is available in all console releases since Wai Wai Happy! Rokudaime but never in arcade releases.
  • Reverse (あべこべ abekobe?): all red symbols are replaced with blue ones and vice versa. Other notes are not affected. This is available since 9 and Doka! to Oomori Nanadaime.
  • Randomize modifiers, namely Whimsical (きまぐれ kimagure?) and Haphazard (でたらめ detarame?): a random selection of notes are changed from red to blue or vice versa. As a result, the sequence of notes can be different in different occasions of playing the same song in the same difficulty when one of these are used. More notes are changed in Haphazard than in Whimsical. These are available since the new arcade and Portable DX, with the exception of Wii Kettei-Ban.

In PS2 releases modifiers are activated by using player files with specific player names. In other console releases they are accessed in dedicated sub-menus. In arcade versions 7 through 14 modifiers are activated by repeatedly hitting left/right rim when landing on the leftmost/rightmost difficulty choice during difficulty selection, depending on the version. In the new arcade modifiers are accessed in the Gameplay Options sub-menu.

In older releases, at most one modifier may be chosen in a single gameplay. In more recent releases, multiple modifiers can be activated together in one gameplay:

  • In Portable DX and Chibi Dragon to Fushigi na Orb, one can choose a combination of at most three modifiers:
    • One speed modifier
    • Either Reverse or one randomize modifier; and/or
    • Either Auto, Hidden or Perfect
  • In the new arcade, one can choose a combination of at most five modifiers:
    • Shin-uchi
    • One speed modifier
    • Hidden
    • Reverse; and/or
    • One randomize modifier


  • 太鼓の達人 (Taiko no Tatsujin) (February 2001) [1]
  • 太鼓の達人 2 (Taiko no Tatsujin 2) (August 2001)
  • 太鼓の達人 3 (Taiko no Tatsujin 3) (March 2002)
  • 太鼓の達人 4 (Taiko no Tatsujin 4) (December 2002)
  • 太鼓の達人 5 (Taiko no Tatsujin 5) (October 2003)
  • 太鼓の達人 6 (Taiko no Tatsujin 6) (September 2004)
  • 太鼓の達人 7 (Taiko no Tatsujin 7) (September 2005)
  • 太鼓の達人 8 (Taiko no Tatsujin 8) (March 2006)
  • 太鼓の達人 9 (Taiko no Tatsujin 9) (December 2006)
  • 太鼓の達人 10 (Taiko no Tatsujin 10) (September 2007)
  • 太鼓の達人 11 (Taiko no Tatsujin 11) (March 2008)
  • 太鼓之達人 11 亞洲版 (Taiko no Tatsujin 11 Asian Version) (April 2008)
  • 太鼓の達人 12 (Taiko no Tatsujin 12) (December 2008)
  • 太鼓之達人 12 亞洲版 (Taiko no Tatsujin 12 Asian Version) (June 2009)
  • 太鼓の達人 12 ド~ン!と増量版 (Taiko no Tatsujin 12 Don to Extra Version) (July 2009)
  • 太鼓の達人 13 (Taiko no Tatsujin 13) (December 17, 2009)
  • 太鼓の達人 14 (Taiko no Tatsujin 14) (September 2010)
  • 太鼓の達人 (Taiko no Tatsujin) (November 2011),[1] and its major overhaul updates:
    • 太鼓の達人 (C/N: KATSU-DON) (Taiko no Tatsujin (C/N: KATSU-DON)) (July 2012)
    • 太鼓の達人 ソライロ ver. (Taiko no Tatsujin Sorairo version) (March 2013)
    • 太鼓の達人 モモイロ ver. (Taiko no Tatsujin Momoiro version) (December 2013)
Nintendo DS
Nintendo 3DS
Wii U
PlayStation 2
  • 太鼓の達人 タタコンでドドンがドン (Taiko no Tatsujin: Tatacon de DODON ga DON) (24 October 2002)
  • 太鼓の達人 ドキッ!新曲だらけの春祭り (Taiko no Tatsujin: DOKI! Shinkyoku Darake no Haru Matsuri) (27 March 2003)
  • 太鼓の達人 あっぱれ三代目 (Taiko no Tatsujin: Appare Sandaime) (30 October 2003)
  • 太鼓の達人 わくわくアニメ祭り (Taiko no Tatsujin: Waku Waku anime Matsuri) (18 December 2003)
  • 太鼓の達人 あつまれ!祭りだ!四代目 (Taiko no Tatsujin: Atsumare! Matsuri da!! Yondaime) (22 July 2004)
  • 太鼓の達人 TAIKO DRUM MASTER (Taiko no Tatsujin: Taiko Drum Master) (Oct 26, 2004)
  • 太鼓の達人 ゴー!ゴー!五代目 (Taiko no Tatsujin: Go! Go! Godaime) (9 December 2004)
  • 太鼓の達人 とびっきり!アニメスペシャル (Taiko no Tatsujin: Tobikkiri! Anime Special) (4 August 2005)
  • 太鼓の達人 わいわいハッピー!六代目 (Taiko no Tatsujin: Wai Wai Happy! Rokudaime) (8 December 2005)
  • 太鼓の達人 ドカッ!と大盛り七代目 (Taiko no Tatsujin: DON-KA! to Oomori Nanadaime) (7 December 2006)
PlayStation Portable
  • 太鼓の達人 AR (Taiko no Tatsujin AR) (only in Japan)
  • 太鼓の達人 AR 妖怪バトル(Taiko no Tatsujin Youkai Battle) (Spring 2011, only in Japan)
  • 太鼓の達人 新曲取り放題!(Taiko no Tatsujin Shinkyoku Tori Houdai!) (August 2012, only in Japan)
Advanced Pico Beena
  • 太鼓の達人 Beena (Taiko no Tatsujin Beena) (14 April 2005)
Mobile Phone
  • 太鼓之達人 流行月租 (Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Monthly) (2 January 2008, only for Taiwan)
  • 太鼓の達人 もばいる (Taiko no Tatsujin Mobile) (20 March 2008, only for Japan)
  • 태고의달인 (29 March 2011, only for South Korea)

Collaborations and guest appearances[edit]

Taiko no Tatsujin frequently hosts collaboration campaigns with other video game franchises and companies. Collaboration efforts include porting signature songs into Taiko no Tatsujin games, sometimes with special dancers and background designs. In return Taiko no Tatsujin elements are respectively ported to other games.

The following are a selection of larger collaboration campaigns:

  • Puzzle & Dragons
    • Three Puzzle & Dragons background music pieces were added to the track listing of Taiko no Tatsujin Plus and the new arcade.
    • Special dungeons featuring Taiko no Tatsujin characters are available for a limited time in Puzzle & Dragons.
  • Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA
    • The song Hatsune Miku no Gekishou (初音ミクの激唱?) is available in Portable DX, featuring note sequences exactly corresponds to the gameplay of the same song in Project DIVA.


From 2005, Kids Station broadcast 3-minute shorts of the Taiko no Tatsujin characters in clay anime. A manga version of the series was also serialized in Comic Bom Bom.

Mini versions of the game appear in the Namco game Tales of the World:Narikiri Dungeon 3 when the main characters is equipped with a costume resembling a drum, and in the Nintendo DS game Nodame Cantabile.

In Mario Kart Arcade GP DX, there is a Japanese-themed stage based on the series. Don also makes an appearance as a playable driver.[2]



  1. ^ a b The first arcade version and the current, continuously updated arcade version share the same release title, and is not to be confused.
  2. ^ http://arcadeheroes.com/2013/02/05/namco-formally-announces-mario-kart-arcade-grand-prix-dx/

External links[edit]