Pre-Finals Relief: Gaming the Stress Away

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As finals are just around the corner for me (next week to be exact), I can just feel the tension and anxiety building in my mind. So before I barricade myself in my room to study, I decided to spend the weekend partaking in some of the gaming culture of Japan.

I’m not what you would call a serious gamer, but as someone who loves music, I’m automatically attracted to anything that has to do with a beat. That being said, besides the obvious Dance Dance Revolution, I was immediately drawn to two rhythm games, Jubeat and Taiko no Tatsujin (also known as Taiko Drum Master).

Why hello Jubeat. I've figured out some of your tricks.

Why hello Jubeat. I’ve figured out some of your tricks.

Jubeat was definitely something new to me, but still surprisingly fun. The premise of the game is simple enough: there is a board of buttons and as the song plays you press the button or buttons that light up with the rhythm. You can plug in your headphones for a more focused play, but the songs range from anime to pop to rock to heavy metal, with different levels of difficulty. You can even play against up to three other players in a showdown. I tried to refrain from looking at those around me and watching them play, but alas, I gave in and was amazed. Their hands were moving so fast and I tried to keep up with them but couldn’t. I just kept thinking, “How? Just how?” Getting back to my game, at some point I figured out a trick. For me, it’s best when I don’t focus on any particular area of the board. This way, instead of my head darting from one side to another and trying to have my hands keep up, I focus on the light of the buttons I need to press and am able to hit the right buttons on time. I can easily see myself playing this game for hours as long as the songs keep coming.

Head to head Taiko no Tatsujin battle against two study abroad students. Who will win?

Head to head Taiko no Tatsujin battle against two study abroad students. Who will win?

Taiko no Tatsujin (or Taiko Drum Master) is a game that you can find everywhere, in  smaller arcades as well as larger ones like Club Sega. Yours truly even as the Playstation version at home so of course, I had to take on the original arcade version. My arms get a nice little workout when I played at home and here in Japan, it is no different. If anything, I get more of a workout because I’m standing up to play. Nevertheless, this has become my go-to game, not just for entertainment, but also as a form of stress relief. Some people smoke, some drink, some exercise, but I play Taiko no Tatsujin. 100円 gets you 3 songs, which can be picked from anime, J-pop, classical, etc. I am nowhere close to being on the same advanced level as some players, but I still enjoy the feeling I get as the sticks hit the drum. This game makes me yearn to learn to play actual Taiko drums. Perhaps I can find a taiko workshop nearby?

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