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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pop'n Music and BEMANI Games

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - A request for a very weird videogame series I've only heard of from the requester.

Once upon a time in May, KoopaTV got a request
"Write an article on the Japanese arcade game pop'n music. Give us your insights on the main characters and gameplay, and tell us whether or not you'd like to see it come to the US in its pure form. (It actually did come to the US at one point as a Wii game, but it was TERRIBLE.)" 
Obviously we never did it. Until now. I like to say we eventually will do your requests, so here we are.

So pop'n music (it's supposed to not be capitalised like "amiibo" ain't capitalised, which really bugs me... and it's worse than amiibo since this is the name of a game series and not something attempting to be a generic noun) is this music game that's part of Konami's BEMANI series of games, using primarily licensed music. What's BEMANI? It used to be called Games & Music Division (thanks Wikipedia) in Konami, and then they just made it some nonsensical name to be more creative I dunno. (I didn't read the whole Wikipedia article as to why.)

All of the BEMANI things are trapped in Japan, with the exception of Dance Dance Revolution. So that includes pop'n music, so that's why I've never heard of it and you likely haven't either.

GameFAQs poll of the day Konami franchises sold off to a new publisher
No one really cares about it, I guess.
I voted for the last option, personally.

Uh... According to TVTropes, pop'n music has a high difficulty but it tries to fool you by being cutesy-looking. From what I can tell, this is a screenshot from one of the games:

pop'n music BEMANI King of the Sea screenshot Mimi Capt. Jolly
For some reason, this art style reminds me of the Zelda CD-i games.

So... pop'n music suffers from the Mario Party problem in terms of naming. It's just a ton of increasing numbers. There's pop'n music 20 now. That's terrifying, though they've finally stopped numbering them. I dunno how anyone knows which is which or how many people even bother keeping track of them. It's mostly an arcade series, though there are some ported to game systems. Either Konami is out-of-date on their website or that hasn't happened in a long time.

Konami pop'n music world portal events page
Why do they have an Events page if nothing has happened in over a decade?
And yes, Japan does use the same calendar as the Western world minus Israel.
(Happy New Year, Jews!)

I don't know who the main characters are especially since there are TONS of characters in this series. And I dunno how to give thoughts on them because that's pretty hard to research with all these games, them all being Japan-only, and not being able to experience it for myself. And that TVTropes character sheet doesn't have much information per character. That said, I like the basic idea of cute character designs, even if that's deceiving with the difficulty.

pop'n music eclale BEMANI September 25-27
Oh, this is about to come out in a day. Whatever it is. pop'n music eclale, which would be the 23rd edition.

Honestly, I don't think the characters in the screenshots I'm posting in this article are even cute. They're colourful, but the colour palettes being used are so... subdued.

Let me let you in on something: I'm really bad at rhythm games. It's all timing, right? Apparently I'm not good at timing. Like, I'm terrible at Splatoon's Squid Beatz minigame. I think.

I beat every level of Rhythm Heaven on the DS, though. Now THAT'S a cutesy rhythm game I really liked. (I hope the requestor isn't gonna bash my head for going on a tangent after a terrible analysis.)

Rhythm Heaven is a series that ALSO is stuck in Japan, namely Rhythm Tengoku on the GBA and its compilation on the 3DS in 2015 (Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus) that gets continued calls for being ported.

I don't know how to judge a rhythm game as being better than another one. Controls are all sort of just pressing a button or whatever. Is it the music selection that makes a rhythm game better than another? You tell me. I don't play many of these.

Since this article is kinda-sorta about Konami, here's some news to go along with the theme of KoopaTV's negative Konami talk. There were very recent reports stating that Konami was officially leaving the console business, but Konami says... "no we're not!"

I'm not going to take sides and give you my thoughts anymore. I don't really have a high opinion of Konami anyway. If they die and take BEMANI with them, then I don't care. I doubt that'll happen, since the majority of this BEMANI stuff isn't even on consoles. So Konami's console turmoil shouldn't affect this series.

So have fun with pop'n music or whatever. It can stay in Japan. Let's care about more important things to get in America. Like TWO abandoned Ace Attorney spin-offs and Rhythm Tengoku and MOTHER 3. Not that pop'n music getting localised affects those others in any way, but I dunno many people who even go to arcades. And most of this music is Japanese, so it sounds more like a weeaboo's wet dream than anything else than something that really needs to come out of Japan. That could be a reason why most BEMANI stuff is in Japan.

Ludwig isn't doing anyone any favours with this article but at least he kinda did research on the request, even if it doesn't seem like it after all the times he said he doesn't know something. He'll eventually take any request you give, but they'll be converted into articles much simpler if you ask for something that is a lot more simple to research. Even better if it's something that one of KoopaTV's staff already has an opinion on. Anyway, if you know a lot more about this series (unlikely), feel free to impart your wisdom.

Four and a half years later, Ludwig is still bad at rhythm games.


  1. I don't know much about rhythm games either. I have a couple, like Elite Beat Agents and Final Fantasy Theatrhythm, but it's not a favorite genre.

    However, if you want a game that hides its difficulty behind cutesy graphics, Chantelise. It's all cute little anime girls and funny dialogue and then you die, and die, and die... XD
    I've heard the same is true of Fortune Summoners, though I haven't played it myself yet.

    1. Is Chantelise a free-to-play game?
      ...'cause that'd be a fun (evil) way to have in-app purchases.

    2. No, it's $9.99 on Steam with no microtransactions. :P

      But if the publisher wanted to do something sneaky with microtransactions, I think Recettear would be the obvious choice.


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