Review: Koru’s Game Reviews – Beatmania IIDX 16: Empress + Premium Best [PS2]

Beatmania IIDX fans, prepare to say farewell to the PS2. The newest console title in the franchise, Beatmania IIDX 16: Empress + Premium Best for the Playstation 2, was released by Konami on October 15th 2009, exclusively to Japan. The game has a pink butterfly and jewel/royalty theme, and playing a pink game doesn’t make you gay, jackasses. What is Beatmania IIDX? Well it goes like this:

Beatmania IIDX is a series that started in 1999 and is a sequel of the original series, simply called Beatmania, which was created in 1997. It’s a 2 Player rhythm/music, “DJ Simulation” game, where you have 7 hard plastic keys and a turntable. This series is the OBVIOUS inspiration for upcoming American titles “DJ Hero” and “Scratch: The Ultimate DJ”. Once called a “Guitar Hero Rip-Off” by the ignorant, lack of research doers over at X-Play, (Beatmania predates it by 8 years. ) this series has captivated Japan, and continues to suck players in to this day in Japanese arcades.

There are 8 columns on the screen, corresponding to each of the keys and the turntable. While playing, small horizontal bars fall straight through each of these columns, and the player must press the right key (or play the scratch) when the bar touches the bottom of the column, no sooner and no later. The correct timings for the notes follow the beat of the music, so the player has to have a very keen sense of rhythm.

Every time a key is pressed or the scratch is played, an instrument or sound is played to complement the song. So, in order to hear the song correctly, the player must get the bars on the right timing. Additionally, the game shows a rating (Flashing Great/Just Great, Great, Good, Bad or Poor) for each falling note that’s played by the user.

The controller you use to play the game, looks like this:

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Or if you wanna go all out, buy a controller from DJ Dao at http://www.bemaniasc.com/english/index.php

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Now on to the review. First thing I want to point out is that this is the final Beatmania IIDX game for the PS2 as the series is rumored to move on to the next generation of consoles. Also this game is 2 discs, a first for Beatmania IIDX.

In your main menu, the modes are the same, so people who have played earlier titles in the series will be right at home with this one. If you’ve never played before, you have the following modes:

-Standard (Arcade Mode, 3 songs)
-Expert (Play through courses, 5 songs)
-Dan (Class mode. Achieve higher skill levels through song courses with different difficulties)
-Beginner (Highly recommended for newbies!)
-Tutorial (Learn how the game is played)
-Free (Play as many songs as you want)
-Training (Train, duh)
-Gallery (Unlock gallery pictures)
-Statistics (Check your song and score records)
-Options (Duh)
-Customize (Unlock customizable options)
-Rival (Choose your rival and try to beat their score)
-Save & Load (Memory card menu)

In the customization menu you have tons of new options. There are new lane covers, character voices, menu music, frames and note explosions to unlock.
The “Dan” mode has also returned, which lets you play through preset courses to achieve a higher ranking from Kyu to Dan and up.

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Now onto the song selection screen. You can choose between normal, hyper and another difficulties (Easy, normal, hard) with the Black Anothers being hidden for you to unlock. Not all songs have black Anothers, but a handful of them do. Black Anothers are the top difficulty in this game. There are 99 songs to choose from once you unlock them all. Many are brand new, some revived, and some are exclusive to this home version. There are more than enough songs to keep you busy. You can press the start button to choose your play options for each song. The play options are:

-Normal (No options chosen)

-Hi-Speed (Changes the speed of the falling notes. Ranges from 0.5 to 5.0)

-Easy/Hard (Easy mode makes your bar recover from misses faster, and you have to get your groove meter
into the clear zone to clear the song. Hard has a meter that depletes with each miss. It is tougher to make the bar go back up, and if your groove percentage hits 0%, you lose instantly)

-Hidden/Sudden (Notes vanish before hitting the red line/Notes appear just above the red line)

-Random/Mirror (Random shuffles the note chart around. Mirror simply reverses the pattern)

-A-SCR/5-Keys (Auto scratch. All turntable notes are played by the CPU. 5-Key lets you play 5 keys and the turntable, instead of 7 keys and the turntable)

-Double (Play 2 sides at the same time. 16 keys total. 14 keys + two turntables)

Unless you are playing 2 player mode, you don’t need to know about Flip or Battle.

I read that about 35 songs were removed from this game, no idea why, but that’s quite a let down. The songlist overall i think is quite good, but not great. I am a fan of old school 5-key Beatmania, so i was disappointed by the lack of 5-key revival songs this time around.

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After you complete a song, you’ll be brought to the results screen. You’ll see how well you did and will receive a grade. The grades range from AAA to F. AAA’s are tough to achieve unless you are a skilled player, and even then some skilled players have trouble getting AAA’s on certain songs. It’s all about having impeccable timing.

In the gallery mode, you can unlock pictures. Whoopie…personally I never cared for these and always preferred that they use the space for more songs, but people seem to like them, to each their own.

The second disc, called “Premium best” is missing a standard arcade mode, but it does have a new mode in it’s place. This mode is called “Archives” In archives mode, you unlock the result screen pictures from IIDX 3rd style, all the way up to DJ Troopers. Tons of photos to unlock, again, waste of space for me.

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There are 99 songs on this disc as well, bringing the grand total of songs to 198. By far the most robust song list for any Bemani title to ever be released on a home console. The song selection on this disc primarily consists of revival songs from older IIDX titles, with the exception of one hidden song from Empress. Most of the songs are from the last 5 IIDX games or so, which was a let down for me. I was hoping for some classics like “Gobble” and “Luv To Me” or something. There are some brand new another patterns for a few of the old songs, which is a nice treat.

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New to this game is the “Empress Place” which opens up in standard mode on the first disc after you play three songs and play well enough to get the extra stage. These are basically the boss songs of the game, and clearing them with a good enough grade, gets you one more extra stage to play through. Now there are more extra stages to go through as well, outside of empress place. Lastly there are two bonus songs from the newest IIDX title “Sirius” which is in Japanese arcades now. Yes, Sirius like the constellation, or perhaps the satellite radio service of the same name/idea. Those two songs are “Dominion” and “Bad maniacs”

Overall the game is very solid. With 198 songs to choose from, you’ll have more than enough fun with the songlist alone. There is plenty to unlock, and depending on your taste in music, you’ll either love the songs or hate them. It’s 2 discs, it’s the final PS2 Beatmania IIDX title, marking the end of a wonderful era. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of rhythm games, get it NOW.

Check out the video review below to see the game in action.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_fnt8D7VoY&hl=en&fs=1&]

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