Important Importables Review: Pop’n Music 2 for Dreamcast

September 18, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Pop’n Music 2 for Dreamcast

Section: Reviews, Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Consoles, Consoles-Other, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Music

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Pop'n Music 2 Dreamcast box art

Title: Pop’n Music 2
Price: $15-30 (depends on where you buy it)
System(s): Dreamcast (Also on the PlayStation, though the PlayStation version isn’t region-free)
Release Date: September 14, 1999
Publisher (Developer): Konami (Konami)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Pros: Lots of catchy music to play along to, visual memory unit can help you keep track of which buttons to push, bright and colorful, import friendly since there isn’t too much text to keep track of and much of it is in English, can use it as a key disc to play the Pop’n Music append discs,
Cons: Having the Pop’n Music controller peripheral is practically a necessity and the graphics aren’t outstanding.
Overall Score: 9/10 if you have the Pop’n Music peripheral controller, 7/10 if you have a standard Dreamcast controller with a Visual Memory Unit inserted, 5/10 if you only have a standard Dreamcast controller.

Pop’n Music is a Konami Bemani series staple. It’s a series that involves precise timing, cute characters and incredibly catchy music. While the series hasn’t had a chance to develop or catch on overseas, it’s been an arcade and console staple in Japan for over 10 years. One of the best, early home entries in the series was Pop’n Music 2 for the Dreamcast.

Hit the Pop-kun to hear the song!

Pop’n Music 2 looks very easy to play. The screen has nine bars running down the center. There are nine circles below it, colored white, yellow, green, blue, red, blue, green, yellow and white. Between the bars and the circles are a red line. Little colors Mr. Pops will drop on the bars from the top of the screen to the red line. The goal is to hit the Mr. Pops in time with the music. Do well, and you’ll build chains and the bar at the bottom of the screen will fill. If you’re successful your character (at the left) and the computer character (on the right) will cringe and wince. Fail, and your character wilts, the computer’s character mocks you and the song ends.

There’s a wide selection of music, from many different genres. So there’ll be classical music, Japanese rock or pop, visual kei and many other styles. Also depending on how well you’re doing, the Mr. Pops faces may change to add a bit of variety.

All about the music, and the right controller.

Pop’n Music 2 doesn’t look pretty. It’s very bright and colorful, but it’s also quite bland. This may dissuade some music game fans who are used to Guitar Hero, with a virtual band in the background, or Dance Dance Revolution, who get to see music videos while they dance. While it is somewhat rudimentary, it’s also understandable. Pop’n Music 2 may start out simple, but can get quite difficult and confusing. Especially since there are nine buttons players have to keep track of. So in this case, simplicity works in the games’ favor. A little more flash would have been nice, but when you’re playing you really have to focus on the notes.

It’s also interesting in that you aren’t playing along with any one particular instrument in Pop’n Music 2. Your note presses could at times trigger the songs’ vocals, keyboards, drums or other instruments. It makes the experience more unique.

Plus, it is incredibly import friendly. There’s tons of English text in the game, so you don’t have to worry about any kind of language barrier. Besides, the main game is all about pressing buttons in time with the Mr. Pops. There’s even a training mode, which comes in quite handy for players who’ve never encountered a Pop’n Music game before.

There’s only one downside, the controls. If you have enough money and time to search for a Dreamcast Pop’n Music controller, which actually has the nine colored buttons to push then you’re fine. If you only have a regular controller, you probably won’t be able to play the game. It’s far too complicated without having the actual buttons in front of you. If you have a Visual Memory Unit you can plug into a regular controller it helps, since the VMU screen will show what buttons to press next. Still, nothing compares to playing with the right equipment.

Absolutely worth it, if you can find the right pieces.

Pop’n Music 2 is a fantastic game and could very easily be considered a Dreamcast classic. But that Dreamcast classic status is conditional. The game is at its best when you have all of the necessary equipment, that is the game and the special nine button Pop’n Music controller. Even when Pop’n Music 2 was new, getting both was quite expensive. Now, with the Dreamcast’s light fading, it’s a horrible chore.

You can still enjoy this incredibly import-friendly and catchy music game with a standard controller with a VMU, but it takes a lot more practice and patience to master. For some people, the effort might not be worth it. I’d still say go for it and give it a chance, because Pop’n Music 2 is worth the effort. Besides, if you own Pop’n Music 2, you can always get the append discs Pop’n Music 3 and Pop’n Music 4 to expand your music library and game options.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports takes a closer look at Atlus/Index.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports offered a brief introduction to the world of Japanese dramas.

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