Saturday, February 29, 2020

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 244 - K-On! Hokago Live!

Today's game is K-On! Hokago Live! for PSP. I love rhythm games. I love K-On. I don't love this game, unfortunately, but it did get me to think about the differences between Japanese and Western developed music games, which is what this blog will really be about. Read on for more and to watch (very brief) gameplay.

First off, I love K-On. I started watching anime again right at the same time K-On started and was immediately hooked. Cute girls doing cute things is my jam, apparently. I also really legitimately love the music too, though, which is really what the show is about even if the joke is that all they do is drink tea and eat cake. I think I prefer the first season over the second, just because the second season feels a little too drawn out, but it's all good. My favorite character, Mugi, really shines in season 2 so that makes it fun to watch even if it's stretched too thin because the creators didn't want it to end.

I also really, really love music games, but after playing a ton it's hard not to notice some distinct differences between Japanese and Western rhythm games. Western games tend to put the actual music at the forefront and want to at least give the illusion that you're playing along and creating the music. The note charts are usually more on-time with the beat so you feel like you're actually participating. The timing window is usually much more generous, too, so you have longer to press a button before it registers as a miss.

Japanese music games seem like they want to just be video games, rather than music making sims, so the note charts are fairly arbitrary and it's more of a coincidence that your button presses correspond with the music than anything intentional. Japanese games also tend to have more detailed and involved backgrounds while you play so the gameplay is built around making sure you actually see the backgrounds instead of just being focused on the note highway. This is why so many Japanese rhythm games have the notes flying in from all around the screen rather than just one consistent path - It makes sure you scan the entire screen to see the next note so you can see the cute anime girls dancing in the background. I would say Japanese games are also more difficult because they throw a lot more notes at you at high difficulties while also having much more unforgiving timing windows.

Which one is better? Well, honestly I'd rather play Guitar Hero or Rock Band or Amplitude. I like to feel like I'm actually participating rather than just randomly hitting buttons. That isn't to say that I don't like Japanese rhythm games - I kind of love the Hatsune Miku games and I like the Persona music games - but I'd rather play Guitar Hero.

As for today's game, K-On! Hokago Live!, it's kind of a mess. It is ridiculously hard to play because the timing window is incredibly precise. I think it "maybe" would be easier to play on an actual PSP rather than emulated on my giant TV, but I can't say for sure. I'm usually good at rhythm games but I can barely beat one song on this game. Sorry the gameplay is so, well, crap in this video, but I sort of make up for it by actually beating a song at the end. Right?