Partly because I have run out of ideas on what to write for my blog, and furthermore my entry is way out of schedule, which I also regret, I decided to talk about one of my favorite things; that is, arcade games. Especially, those games that are under the BEMANI umbrella. but before I begin my further rambling, I'll introduce BEMANI first.
Before that was KONAMI. It is currently one of the top gaming companies that exist today. Their range of products is apparently enormous; anime merchandise, trading cards, action figures, coin arcades and various other video games. we now narrow the scope to one of its branches, which is none other than BEMANI, specializing in coin-operated music simulation games. Originally, it was named "Games and Music Division", but then it changed its name as an accolade to its first and most successful game, beatmania (yes, without a capital B).
According to Wikipedia, BEMANI has continuously released new versions of several different games. Using the coined term "mix", different mixes have different songs, settings, play modes, and graphics. Usually this comes in a rather fixed format, which is [game] [No.]th Mix, for example, beatmania 6th Mix. There is one exception for one of the games, namely, "Pop'n music 1" and onwards. Each game has its own unique hardware (one good reason why they are ridiculously expensive), and each of them has its own form of control. A fair amount of songs from one of their games are occasionally transplanted into another (for example, a song in beatmania can appear in pop'n music).
Since there are about 4 main games that they continuously produce with different mixes, I'll split them into four; this one is, obviously, beatmania, their most successful product in the coin arcade games market. Its first release was around 1997, and is partly responsible for the booming of music simulation games similar to this in 1998. Since it was so successful, it has 'evolved' into 2 versions, beatmania IIDX (DX standing for Deluxe, pronounced two dee-ecks) and beatmania III (three).
The rules are ultimately simple. There is 5 piano-resembling keys arranged like one (two black keys in the top and three white ones in the bottom), and a scratching disk at the left side for player one and in the right for player 2. In beatmania IIDX it is changed to seven keys, thus making it a wee bit harder, and also some effector keys acting along the lines of equalizers. in beatmania III, however, the 5 keys are back and a versatile foot pedal. when you insert the coins and press Start, you choose the play mode (for beginners, regulars and experts), and you select the song. When it is set, you get a screen of something like this :
Those tabs and keys correspond to the controller which is something like this:
White tabs for the white keys, blue ones for the black, and there are wide red tabs not shown in the picture for the scratching disk. Basically, when any cascading tabs approach or meet the big red line below, you have to press the corresponding key (for example, tab for leftmost white key reaches reline, press it) in order to get a preset sound which recomposes the song properly, if the whole 'stage' is played flawlessly, it produces a proper song. On the contrary, if played with notes missing or not hit at the right time, all you get is a fiasco. There is a passing range shown in form of a horizontal bar below the bars, and the objective is to keep the bar on the red region in order to pass the song and advance to the next stage. If the song ends and the bar is in the blue region, you fail the song and you have to insert another coin if you want to continue. The stage may end prematurely if the bar is completely depleted. Sounds easy enough? Not quite.
There are 3 levels of difficulty for each song (This varies in each of the 3 versions), NORMAL, HYPER, or ANOTHER, all in a scale of 1 to 12, from easiest to hardest. The harder it gets, the more skill and accuracy needed to correctly press the keys and 'scratch' the disk in order to pass the stage and get a flawless song. There are speed modifiers, from 0.5x to 5.0x at 0.5 intervals, changing the rate of scrolling of the notes falling down and increases the gap between the notes but not necessarily accelerating the sound, according to the song's BPM (beats per minute). Other core gameplay modifiers (because they've lots of them) are HIDDEN, when the notes disappear halfway at the end but you still have to press them, SUDDEN, when the notes are only visible halfway at the end, in contrary to HIDDEN, RANDOM, where notes for keys are assigned to other keys, MIRROR , where the note layout for the songs is flipped (rightmost key becomes leftmost key, doesn't affect scratches), and Auto Scratch, where the notes for the turntable do not require user input (automatically counted). The scoring, or how well you succeeded, is based on rankings ranging from C to AAA.
There are different mixes for each version, and there are different songs, graphics, layout, new game plays, etc. The first beatmania goes until 6th mix + CORE REMIX; the IIDX series, on the other hands, uses 'style' at the end (Beatmana IIDX 9th style), probably because it would sound peculiar if they used 'mix', and it is still continuous, the most recent being beatmania IIDX 14- GOLD (they stopped using 'nth style' since IIDX 11 - RED onwards). beatmania III, on the other hand, is relatively short-lived and stops at 'the final' mix. It had a 3.5 inch floppy drive to save records of scores. There are also home versions, which hold up to 90 songs. The arcade ones can hold up to 400 songs due to running it on a hard drive instead of a DVD.
The songs itself are an integral part of beatmania as do all consoles under the BEMANI umbrella. there are artists who compose songs exclusively for BEMANI, but there are other licensed tracks from other popular artists as well. Each mix will have relatively have 40 new songs (!) with some revival songs from previous mixes, and also what they termed "boss songs" or 'extra stage' songs, only playable when meeting certain requirements in clearing stages that differ at several intervals of mixes (for example, one mix requires the user to play, say, a level 6, 7, and 8 song respectively with a ranking of A or higher to unlock the boss songs). Generally, the artists uses pseudonyms/aliases for their songs, the ones they use frequently and sometimes special ones for certain songs. One more thing,each song has a genre and some of them have special genres, which will be come apparent in my Songs of the Day review.
Sadly, they very, VERY RARELY appear in Indonesia. One reason is because it is ridiculously, INSANELY expensive. For example, buying a beatmania IIDX 9th style cabinet alone costs around $12500! Imagine IIDX 14 - GOLD, it might be up to $20000 (200 million rupiah!) or even more! The most updated one I can find is beatmania 5th mix in Bali. There was a beatmania IIDX (1st mix) in Daan Mogot, Jakarta once, but it's long broken. So consequently, I have to go to Japan itself to get myself updated. In any case, it's a fine game to any of you who enjoy music and arcade games, but this is only the beginning; there are still more games to come and I will review them eventually.
S O N G S O F T H E D A Y : [CARDINAL GATE]
The CARDINAL GATE is a group of boss songs with a difficulty of 11 out of 12. The artists are based from the Four Gods that rules the four directions (north, east, west, and south) in chinese mythology. This can be found in beatmania IIDX 13 DistorteD, and is the first time in any mixes a boss song appears in for of a group. The songs from the ' four gods' are:
1. Ganymede by 玄武 (Genbu)
The slowest of the quartet (72-82 BPM), and the most sensible song (in terms of how the song sounds like), it features a green mechanical turtle in a snowy plain on the video. Personally my favorite song out of the four, the real artist's name is Jun Wakita, who happens to be my favorite artists of all time for beatmania. The genre is Esoteric Slowcore, which makes sense once you hear the song.
2. CONTRACT by 朱雀 (Suzaku)
The second slowest at 180 BPM, and the third most sensible song, the video features an armored girl enveloped in fire, and my wild guess is that the animal accompanying her is a vermilion phoenix are some other type of bird. The artist's real name is Yoshitaka Nishimura, which I am not in full favor of his songs. The genre is Sublime Techno, which is not so understandable to me, but it's techno, for sure.
3. 華蝶風雪 (pronounced 'Kachoufuusetsu' )by 白虎 (Byakko)
The fastest of the four at 199 BPM, and the second most sensible song, the video shows a white haired guy in black (with chest open) bearing a big scythe riding a white striped tiger. The artists real name is Tatsuya Shimizu, a newcomer to the BEMANI artists family, he does reasonably good songs which made him quickly popular. The genre is Asian Mixture, as the song has traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen, koto, and the Japanese flute which I forgot the name.
4. waxing and wanding by 青龍 (Seiryu)
The third fastest at 191 BPM, this is in my opinion the most insensible song of the four, heavily caused by some high-pitched rambling-of-sorts throughout the song. The video shows a blond princess with a blue-eyes azure dragon. My wild but plausible guess for the real artist is Ryutaro Nakahara, which I am flabbergasted at because he doesn't make songs like this type for all I know. The genre is Dance Speed. I get the 'speed' because its reasonably fast, but the 'dance' part, I'm not that convinced.
So that's it for beatmania and the Cardinal Gate. There are hundreds of other songs, but I just spent two hours writing this blog and I wouldn't care less about them. Next up is step 2: Guitar Freaks & Drummania, soon in a blog entry near you.
Regards from the schizophrenically psychotic retard,
Yoga Pradana A.K.A. Dr VoltsPerSecond