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Trail: Ouendan

Ouendan

ElegantMedia Games

I love playing games on my DS.
Its the perfect way to play for me.
I don’t have much time to play games, I can take it with me anywhere, and I like the interactions usually.
Its still hard to find games I like but once in a while one will grab me and not let go

Ouendan is such a game.

What is that?
That feeling?
Its something I have not felt in a long time, if ever...
its...
GAME ADDICTION!

Some people talk about a game being addictive as a good thing...
but when a game is addictive... truly addictive, as I posit Ouendan is such, it is far from a good thing in my life.

First of all, is you are not familiar with this game I will copy/paste from Wikipedia for your convenience:
Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (押忍!闘え!応援団 lit. “Hey! Fight! Cheer Squad”), sometimes referred to as simply Ouendan, is a rhythm video game developed by iNiS and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console in 2005, for release only in Japan. Ouendan stars a cheer squad rhythmically cheering for various troubled people.
Ouendan details the plight of several characters in hopeless situations who cry out for help. In response, the Ouendan, an all-male cheer squad wearing highly stylized black uniforms (based on gaku-ran Japanese school uniforms) with red armbands, appear to help each character work through their problems by cheering them through music. The origin of the Ouendan is unexplained in the game, though they’re always nearby when help is needed, possibly appearing from a nearby supply closet or a food stall.
Most of the scenarios are inspired by modern Japanese culture, or are heavily influenced by the Japanese form of print comics, or manga. For instance, the first stage features a high school student distracted from studying for his college entrance exams by his family, while a later stage focuses on a pottery master who has lost the inspiration to create unique works. Most of the stories are presented in a light-hearted or comical fashion, emphasized by absurd storyline twists and the sounds of whistles and cheer shouts as the player progresses through each stage. The one notable exception to this is a love story set to the song “Over the Distance,” which is told in a more heartfelt, subdued tone further marked by the gameplay’s whistle sound effect being replaced with subtle chimes.

okay, that tels you the facts.
and now the reality, my reality of playing this game...
let me preface this by saying that i really like this game but i’m not sure why exactly.

The music is vapid pop songs, I get nothing out of playing but the basic adreneline response to success or failure, and I think the manga style storytelling is kinda cute.

Tee dots are coming up so fast that if you dont know the song it is almost impossible to get it on the beat. It is, actually, alot ike executing a dance. I think they have made quite a nice dance simulator for the DS :) When you can play all the way through a song without the guys falling or stopping because too many mistakes have been made its a really great feeling. You are rewarded by things going well for the people in the story, you get a little cut-scene, its like a music video, a funny animated comic. I think this is why I am addicted to it... I like the songs, I like the feeling of dancing with the stylus and seeing the Cheer Squad suceed in getting the protagonist through this rough time in their life.

I am annoyed by the way you have to keep redoing things until you get it right which means doing it over and over and over. I mean, I really don’t feel that its good way to design something. I look forward to a day when you can keep playing even when you lose. Just give me another thing to do, don’t make me keep doing the ame thing over and over. This pepition works in the addiction factor because the songs gets stuck in my head. I find myself humming them all the time. I even downloaded the soundtrack so I could listen to the songs and perhaps better my chances of dancing without falling next time I play. So, not only is it that game malaise of _having to be good at the inane game mechanic but then the only reason i eventually pass is because i’ve done it a dozen times... what is that? do anything enough and eventually you’ll be good at it right? this is what i thought until that last level which features the song Ready, Stead, Go by L’arc en ciel. I must have tried to make it through that one 30-40 times and never got past the second cut scene. then i looked it up on Youtube, watched a video of someone completing the level just. one. time. went back and was able to finish it in one go! 0.0 this is liek a whole new thing for me... visual cheat codes?! walkthrough guide for something there are no words to describe. Being a visual person its entirely possible that watching that video had the same effect as a text walkthrough guide.

or...

Perhaps I have for the first time in my life had a “pure gaming experience”!
I have never had this before.
Where I can play and play and not get sick of it

I think this happens for a few reasons.
Firstly its the music.
Secondly, its got this positive theme, you have to dance to help people.
The subtext of the game is also positive, it says, never give up, you can do it! when something bad is going down in my life or if i feel like the work is just too much, i’m sure i will summon to mind a mental image of the all male cheer squad coming to dance me through my time of travail. I like that.

On the down side, I’m addicted to Ouendan. I wish I was playing that impossible last level again right now just because its so satisfying now that i know i can get through it.