With every new character you fight you will be introduced to a new song, each song representing a different musical genre. You will go through everything from traditional J-Pop to surfer music to reggae to love ballads all on your bizarre adventure. The songs in Gitaroo Man Lives are diverse enough to have something for just about everybody. And while you may dislike one or two of the songs, the music here is actually quite strong. The songs won't be as recognizable as what you might find in Guitar Hero, but after a few listens chances are good you will be singing along and having a good time.
Part of the reason this type of game works so well on the PSP is because it can be played in very short bursts. The game is all about turning it on and playing one or two songs while you wait to do something else. You can have a good time with Gitaroo Man Lives regardless of what kind of mood you are in (or want to be in).
It's probably best you take this game a few songs at a time, because the game itself is actually painfully short. With only ten levels most gamers will be able to play through the game in just a couple of hours. Except for the last few stages, Gitaroo Man Lives is not an especially challenging game on the default difficulty setting. Thankfully the difficulty is not that big of an issue, no matter what grade you get on your first play through, you can't help but want to go back and experience the songs all over again.
Part of the reason Gitaroo Man Lives works so well is because of how completely out there it is. Although the game keeps explaining what's going on, I couldn't help but feel like I was missing something. It's full of crazy Japanese humor and the people you fight are about as weird as you can get. This is not the type of game that is easy to tell your friends about, it's something you're going to have to show people … and even then they may still not get it. But for how crazy weird the game is, it's also an extremely fun experience. Battling these enemies with music is just a whole lot of fun, and it's hard to resist the funny art direction and cool characters.
While the single player mode isn't especially long, there are a few extra modes that will extend the game's life out quite a bit. Gitaroo Man Lives comes with a couple of different multiplayer modes, which can be played against another friend (provided he is in the same room) or against the computer. The first mode is the standard one-on-one battle, where you charge, attack and defend. While I appreciate that Koei tried to make an engaging two player battle, this versus mode is just not going to cut it. More fun is the brand new Duel mode, which even allows you to play two new songs exclusive to this version of Gitaroo Man. After playing with the new songs I couldn't help but pine for a real sequel, and not just a remake.
The graphics in Gitaroo Man Lives are good, but due to the game's age it's hard to get too excited about the character models. But don't let me make it sound like the game is ugly; it actually has a unique look with a whole lot of personality. I especially loved the pre-rendered cinema scenes, they have a style all their own and are full of crazy character models and cute graphics. I also enjoyed the voice acting, which offers some crazy readings of some equally crazy lines. I can't help but love the voice they chose for the talking dog, and I find it funny every time I hear some of the kids who are obviously voiced by people over 30. All this leads to some very entertaining cut scenes that will bring a smile to your face.
Gitaroo Man Lives proves to be a thoroughly entertaining remake of one of the strangest music games of all time. While it's easy to be disappointed that this is not the sequel we've all been waiting for, this PSP game manages to maintain everything that was great about the console game and make a few improvements. Hopefully this will be Gitaroo Man's new home; I would love to see the franchise continue with sequels with even crazier enemies, songs and talking animals. If you somehow missed Gitaroo Man on the PS2 this is your chance to play one of the nuttiest music games of all time.
Despite it being a short and low on extra modes, Gitaroo Man Lives proves to be one of the most entertaining music games on the PSP. It's full of wacky characters, memorable songs and enough fun game play to make you want to come back long after you've memorized the music. Now if only we could get Gitaroo Man 2!
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