Original Music in DDR Part Three: Yasuhiro Taguchi

February 27, 2015

The final installment in this series will look at a relative newcomer to DDR, Yasuhiro Taguchi (TAG). TAG’s history with DDR is a bit different since he actually first started out making stepcharts for DDR but his first song “El Dorado” debuted in GuitarFreaks and DrumMania V3. His first musical appearance in DDR would be “SABER WING” and “HOW TO PLAY” (which is a song acting a tutorial for DDR) in DDR X. He is the sound director of DDR as of DDR 2013 possibly due to Naoki leaving Konami for Capcom. There’s few things things that TAG is known for: Producing Dance-Pop/Eurodance/Trance/Hardcore Techno for games like DDR but is more known for his Rock/Fusion music in GFDM, His deep (and over the top) voice which he like to use as spoken word and shout in some songs especially as SUPER STAR MITSURU, and sometimes he is known as being like DJ YOSHITAKA (even though he’s spends more time being a singer and producer of several BEMANI games nowadays) since they both are known to most make songs that sound really similar (A lot of DJ YOSHITAKA songs’ BPM are 185 for example). I personally enjoy most of TAG’s music but even I know most of his songs are similar with few exceptions like his work under CAPACITY GATE and a few other exceptions. Here are a few aliases that TAG has used:

TAG – His main alias that used mostly for Dance-Pop/Eurodance/Trance/Hardcore Techno/Synthpop music in games like DDR and IIDX but used for Rock/Fusion songs in GFDM. His electronic music works under TAG leans towards songs with a four to the floor beat. Decent alias but a lot of these songs do admittedly sound similar.

TAG underground – Alias used  for Hardcore Techno songs. he is known for the two evolved series songs, “Roponggi EVOLVED” and “London EVOLVED”. Song charts for these songs are usually difficult and are regarded as boss songs.

SUPER STAR -MITSURU- – An initially mysterious alias that is used for Eurodance/Eurobeat/Trance/Hardcore songs that are similar  to TAG except this is treated as a separate alter ego for TAG. TAG’s alter ego of SUPER STAR MITSURU is known for being over the top whether it is his deep and over the top vocals which are spoken/word, equally over the top dancing like in “She is my wife” and outfit. Also tends to have a reoccurring in-joke of saying “ONLY ONE (insert word)” especially for genres. SUPER HEROINE -AYAKA- is a variation used for songs for when ERi is the vocalist like in “He is my only star” There’s also an album under the SUPER STAR -MITSURU- alias as well. Similar to TAG’s other music but with shouting.

CAPACITY GATE – An alias used for TAG’s more interesting and more unique songs that usually leans towards having breakbeats. Explorers genres like 2Step such as “Destiny Sword”, Electronic Reggae like in “Shiny World” and Drum and Bass in “Tp-RZ”. Personally, I feel that songs under CAPACITY songs are more creative and a nice refreshing change of pace. Also an initially mysterious alias as songs under CAPACITY GATE do not sound too much like TAG’s usual music.


Coming soon

February 25, 2015

Upcoming posts with no real exact dates (I’ll post when I’ll feel like it)

– DDR music: TAG

– DJMAX artists review (and maybe I’ll at other games like Pump It Up and O2Jam?)

– More to come soon…


Original Music in DDR Part Two: Junko Karashima and Yuichi Asami

February 25, 2015

Today, I’ll be looking at both Junko Karashima (jun) and Yuichi Asami (U1) together in one part as while they created some of DDR’s music, it is not as much as Naoki Maeda, and these two use very few aliases. Let’s look at jun first.

jun is one of the few other music artist people know about in DDR. jun is known for her mostly happy and uplifting songs  and being the vocalist for TËЯRA with Naoki. There are few things that people notice about jun’s music is that most of her songs are Happy Hardcore that tend to be boss songs but she did dabbled in other genres occasionally like Dance-Pop in “dreaming can make a wish come true”, R&B in “No Matter What”, Eurobeat like in “SUPER SAMURAI” (one of the very few songs from jun with a male rapper) and even did a remix of PARANOiA called “PARANOiA Hades” which is surprisingly dark and evil sounding. (PARANOiA Hades and No Matter What were done around when jun was depressed which is why they sounded more darker than her usual fare.) Another thing is that occasionally her songs have both an English and Japanese version and usually jun sings the Japanese version while there is another vocalist for the English version. When a jun song has both English and Japanese versions, one or the another is chosen at random in DDR but there’s a few easter eggs to access the Japanese version.  jun has also worked on other games like QUIZ MAGIC ACADEMY and recently has left Konami to work on CROSSxBEATS where she contributed the song “DAZZLING SEASON”. Personally, jun’s music is catchy and I do like some songs from her like “PARANOiA Hades”, “UNBELIEVABLE (Sparky remix)” and some songs as TËЯRA  but I don’t like her as much Naoki because with few exceptions, most of her music is kind of the same and lacks variety.

U1 is at least for a while was one of the other artists contributing for DDR’s music for a while but unlike Naoki and jun, is still working for Konami and has even branched out to other games like jubeat, and beatmania IIDX and is now a sound director for FutureTomTom. He has also worked on games like NBA POWER DUNKERS and RUMBLE ROSES. U1 first initially created songs for the home releases for DDR but has branched out to arcade versions of DDR nowadays. U1’s music has traditionally been diverse whether it is Eurobeat like”Midnite Blaze”, Rap-Rock like “IN THE ZONE”, or Hardcore Techno like “Go for the Top” and although some of the music are on the more generic side, he did create more unique songs like “MAKE A JAM” a Dance-Pop songs with Reggae toasting, and “Cutie Chaser” which is a song that combines dance music with the waltz 3/4 time signature. Although nowadays I think he kind of stuck in a rut creating songs like Dopamine which is him basically ripping off Sota Fujimori semi-occasional trend of Hardcore Techno songs with cliched Dubstep breakdowns. While U1 uses aliases like Naoki, most are only for one unique song but he does a few more notable aliases though.

U1 (and any variations) – Used as main alias with different genres , not much to say beyond that.

2MB/2.1MB underground – If there ‘s anything U1 is famous for it is creating hard dark sounding remixes in Hardcore Techno of various songs in DDR which tend to be more harder than the original songs. Usually U1 will remix a Naoki Maeda song (he did make a remix of London EVOLVED by TAG underground as 2.1MB underground) and will not remix the same song/series more than once. This is one the best alias as U1 usually is great at putting a darker twist of the different songs he remixes. U1 has also created “Illegal Function Call” for beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro which is a Hardcore Techno song that is not a remix of anything but is similar to his 2MB works. He is also known for his remix of MAX called MAX.(period) which is a song that only appeared in DDR Extreme CS considered to be the last DDR at the time.

U1 overground – Used for Hardcore Techno songs that are somewhat similar to his 2MB works but are usually more uplifting. Song like “Go for the Top” are decent but I’m not a personal fan of more recent songs like Dopamine which sounded too much like Sota Fujimori (even down to Dubstep breakdowns)

Next time, I’ll look at TAG, one of the only other prominent in-house artist for DDR. (Since Supernova 2, more BEMANI artist are starting to work on DDR like dj TAKA, Ryu, L.E.D but there are more known for their music in other BEMANI games like IIDX)


I really going to miss the DJMAX series and partial rant of today’s music games

February 25, 2015

You know lately I wanted to come say this despite being old news but DJMAX is basically dead and it went out with a whimper not a bang. Alot of of people that worked on the series like PlanetBoom, Electronic Boutique and Kimys has left and created Nurijoy which made a new music game called “Beatcraft Cyclon”.

This is due to Pentavision merging with NeoWiz and not really doing anything to meaningful with Pentavision and DJMAX. The last DJMAX game relased is DJMAX Technika Q a iOS/Android game based on DJMAX Technika with a free to play system (Requires Kakao in South Korea, pnet account for international release). I would’ve almost play this game alot but there were several put offs like being online only which sucks since 3G is not cheap in my country of Canada and the fact that the game is basically going to be unplayable if Neowiz shuts down the servers. There were very few new songs in Technika Q due to people like Croove, Cuve and Forte Escape moving on other companies. Forte Escape was reported to be very mad at Pentavision for not supporting his DJMAX Trilogy project well as there were going to be bunch of things like song expansion that never really happened (There were updates with songs from the Metro project but that’s not exactly the same thing as FE would’ve wanted). Items like noteskins being limited uses and limited fever did not help what so ever. This has prevented me from actually supporting the game and buying song packs like I did for DJMAX Ray.

I was a very big supporter of DJMAX releases in North America as I brought DJMAX Fever, DJMAX Portable 3 (which I found disappointing  for things like mediocre songlist and grinding), DJMAX Technika Tune, brought song packs for DJMAX Ray, and played DJMAX Technika 2/3 in the arcades. Now Neowiz just given up on DJMAX Ray, with no signs of the remaining members the development team which is called “PLANET TEAM” except maybe XeoN. Neowiz didn’t even attempt to get other music artists like kinato, memme or Warak to create more songs (At least Andamiro got a bunch of new people to work on Pump It Up PRIME). The last new song is Paul Bazooka’s “Deborah” which was an song that could’ve been okay except for that last part when there’s some lousy complextro sounds near at the end of the song that I didn’t like (Is Paul Bazooka really only doing Complextro nowadays?).

I first experienced DJMAX with Portable 1 with had great music but was lacking in features and had notecharts not suited for the PSP (Notecharts got better on Portable 2) and now DJMAX finished off with a disappointing mobile that was quickly forgotten about. It has been a depressing time to be a music game fan since BEMANI games are mostly arcade only except for Reflec Beat and jubeat which are on iOS as well (and chances of seeing anything other than DDR Extreme in Canada is not common and I probably have to go Japan or something to play them), DJMAX is gone, O2Jam is still alive (but O2Jam is a game I only play to record new songs since it is online only which sucks especially when servers go down/overloaded), Groove Coaster is not getting enough songs for its home version (and there’s no easy password reset option), Pump It Up is arcade only nowadays meaning chances to play any Pump It Up is hard for my area (except for Pump It Up Pro at Playdium and Fiesta 2 at Dave and Buster’s in Buffalo, NY) and most of the music games I either don’t care like Just Dance and Guitar Hero, or dead, or I’ve forgot to mention. At least there’s still Cytus which is not too bad but some of the recent songs I didn’t like too much because there are mostly leaning Brostep/Dubstep and Electro House (there’s only few Electro House songs that I like/tolerate), Musync which needs to have more songs but at least is still being developed (like creating PS4/iOS versions), CROSSxBEATS would have been decent (but it is a free to play game with a energy system and terrible unlocking system), Tone Sphere (has a mostly uninteresting/boring songlist), there’s Taiko no Tatsujin (Japan only, new game on system with region lock like 3DS and needs some knowledge of Japanese to even choose a song but is one of the few music games still with home versions still being released) and there’s Dynamix which is decent but I’m waiting for that iOS version since it runs like crap on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet if effects are on. It seems music games nowadays are arcade or mobile only which I found semi-disappointing. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to focus on other games for now.


Original Music in DDR Part One: Naoki Maeda

February 25, 2015

Dance Dance Revolution, (at one point) is the most popular dance video game in the world is well known for its variety of music and innovative gameplay. Some of the songs that are popular in DDR are made for the game, but only one man could make 90% of the Konami originals and its Naoki Maeda! (At one point) Nowadays, Naoki is the producer of Capcom’s game CROSSxBEATS and has left Konami.

Naoki Maeda was a employee for Konami who made music for the BEMANI music simulation series and other Konami video games such as Salamander. In the BEMANI series, he makes various types of music under different pseudonyms. He is the producer for the series but very little is known about him and the reason he makes a huge chunk of original music with only around 5-10 other composers compared to the many artists that contribute to other games is because DDR used to have a deal with Dancemania with tracks from the label appearing in the games. However, the deal has ended recently and only “Unbelievable” by EMF, “Sunrise (Jason Nevins Remix)” by Duran Duran, and a cover of Britney Spears and Madonna song’s “Me Against The Music” by Helen are the Dancemania songs in DDR SuperNova 2. Some songs that were also from the DanceMania series re-appeared in Dance Dance Revolution X but they are directly licensed and their edits are different. Naoki used alias for his music starting with 180 (referring to PARANOiA’s in game BPM) since in a interview he said that back then, it is taboo for musicians in the Japanese video game industry to be credited under real names.

Working with other artists: Naoki Maeda has produced some tracks for the formally in house (now with Avex) J-Pop group BeForU a group with Riyu Kosaka, Ayano Tachibana, Hiromi Nishiuchi, Megumi Fukushita and formally Yoma Komatsu, Noria Shiraishi, Shiyuna Maehara, Risa Sotohana, Miharu Arisawa, Sayaka Minami.

He also worked with Jun (Junko Karashima) as TЁЯRA a group making so-called “Hyper J-Pop” and J-Rock. Naoki composes while Jun sings and make the lyrics but Naoki also sings in two songs “Ichizuna Koi (Hyper J-Euro Mix)” a cover of a song from TM Network and “Parasite World” a dark Hard Rock song under TЁЯRA underground alias featuring Jun and Naoki on vocals. The two has also collaborated with Daisuke Asakura and Uchu Sentai NOIZ. Has worked with Tatsh and Junk Hirata as PlatoniX for beatmania IIDX 10th style only.

Guide to Naoki’s aliases: (Warning:  What I say about each alias will be based on my opinion and for now only aliases with more than one unique song will be featured)

NAOKI – Main alias used for Eurobeat styled Eurodance songs. Most songs in this alias except a few like TAIYO are in English. Usually fun to listen and dance to but a little cliched at times and certainly not the best Naoki can do. Vocalists are not usually from Naoki himself but there are a few exceptions like Paula Terry. Songs with Paula Terry credited are usually more emotional and moody, except for Passion of Love which is more upbeat in style.Latter songs lacks some Eurobeat characteristics of earlier songs like for example “My Only Shining Star” is bit more trance like and “will” is very different from other songs in the alias in that the song is more dance-pop like.

NAOKI underground – Naoki uses this alias when producing trance or techno songs. Usually with the exception of Poseidon, all songs are dark sounding and some of the Naoki Underground songs are instrumental except for “L’amour et la liberte” sung by Paula Terry in French and “Tears” sung by Noria Shiraishi in Japanese under the alias EK. This is surprising given that Noria usually sings happy and sometimes annoying songs. Usually better effort is put into the songs of this alias than his main alias.

NM – A alias usually used for pop and ballad songs. Songs are usually hit or miss but for part they are tolerable depending on your opinion about pop music. The Lonely Hearts is a similar alias used for ballads as well.

De-Sire – Breakbeat and Drun and Bass alias. Usually used for Trip Machine series of songs but other songs like “Healing Vision”,  and “Tsugaru” a song with two alias from Naoki Maeda which suggests the song has both ethnic and digital influences. This alias in my own opinion and most other people would be regarded as one of the best.

N.M.R. – This is an old alias used by Naoki to make house songs.  All the songs under the alias has vocals but they are sampled.  Most of the songs are forgettable and generic but “Celebrate Nite” is known for being catchy and being a hip house song. “Let Them Move” a song from this alias is known for being irritating and boring at the same time  because of the vocal sample. In the pop n’ music series, this alias is used by Naoki to compose and sing J-Pop songs.

mitsu-O! – A rarely used alias used early in DDR. The songs are usually reggae or in the case of “My Summer Love” europop mixed with reggae influences. Like N.M.R. most songs are forgettable  although “My Summer Love” is noticeable for resembling Ace of Base hit, “The Sign”. I think the song is bit annoying but also a little bit catchy. There is also mitsu-O! summer spin off alias used for a remix of “Make It  Better” which suggests the remix is smoother and more calm.

RevenG/RE-VENGE – Naoki is also known for creating Ethnic/Worldbeat music fusing world music with electronic music and is regarded as one of the best and most memorable alias as some of the songs under the alias are difficult. Some examples are Irish Jig of “bag”, Indian Raga music of “exotic ethnic” or Japanese festival music of Matsuri of “Matsuri Japan”. RE-VENGE is used for songs with more of a harder feeling.

DIVAS – Old alias used for a few R&B songs like “Baby Baby Gimme Your Love” and “Secret Rendez-vous” (Note: This has been covered in Japanese as “PLATONIC-XXXwith Tatsh). Pretty standard R&B music typical of the late 90s to early 2000s but I guess its decent.

COMING SOON: Future entries in this series will look at jun, U1 and TAG.


In regards to F2P games…

February 25, 2015

(Original post from Miiverse but revised a little bit)

Okay, after looking at some of the posts around the web about Pokemon Shuffle, it makes me sad that some people are defending microtransaction heavy F2P games, one of the worst aspects of modern gaming.  Yeah sure it’s “free” and you can play games like that without paying but I played games like this before, and let me tell you, they make it less easy to progress without paying as levels goes on.

Eventually, the player has to feel like paying for a bunch of fake currency just to beat that one level or to unlock something or quit. Some of the free to play games have a energy system make you wait and prevent you from playing further unless you pay money to refill this so-called “energy”.  I’ve seen the same sort of thing at the slots as well, as some slots may emphasizes some sort of “overdrive” icons or jackpot on the reels just to say to the players “Hey you can win big, so why don’t you put in another dollar?” I really hope that Pokemon Shuffle is just a one off thing, and that people don’t pay much for this. If this becomes successful, then I fear Nintendo might incorporate more microtransactions in future games even though most people play handhelds/consoles like 3DS to get away from the trend of F2P games on mobile.

Some people has been saying that microtransion heavy F2P to play games are like the arcade games but I don’t believe it is a valid comparison as you can play as much as want per credit as want provided you have the skills but these F2P dictate how much fun you can have with the game without paying. I get it that some people say that they have resistance and have patience so they the urge to pay will not happen but I believe there are people that impatient that they are willing spend anything for fake currency, even $100 just so they can longer. These big spenders are also known as “whales” and while they make a smaller percentage than people spend a little, they contributes most profit wise.

I am also concerned children with F2P games especially with something like Pokemon Shuffle since they could spend their credit card money, and some may not know the difference between real and fake currency. They could overspend too much and rack up thousands of dollars because they might not know better. I am not opposed to all free to play games but only when they are done right like with Steel Diver Sub Wars where there are an option to pay for a full version and some extra DLC that are optional though. I forgot to mention that something like jukebeat or DJMAX Ray is a better example of F2P since at least you buy song packs for a cost and can play them for unlimited times after that.

In conclusion, I find that free to play games can be done right if games have an unlock full version for a fee or if the microtransations are not that necessary to play through the game but not if they use a so-called energy system that makes you wait unless you pony up cash.