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Retro Rearview: beatmania PDF Print E-mail
Written by DarkTetsuya   
Sunday, 30 May 2010 11:49

 

rr-bm
Welcome to the first installment to kick off BEMANI month here on Retro Rearview! This first article is going to talk about the game that more or less started the music game craze, at least for Konami (there were a few games that came out before beatmania did, like Parappa the Rapper and possibly even the original Bust-A-Move (Suffice it to say I'm not referring to the US re-title of Puzzle Bobble.)

So hit the jump for the rest of this look back at one of the world's first music games!

 

I'm sure you've heard a certain videogame review show on a once half-decent (but now completely crappy, IMHO) network claim the game was nothing more than a Guitar Hero knockoff. While I wasn't exactly in love with that game's limited songlist, I still think it's kind of difficult to call it that... seeing as how the original Japanese release of the game debuted in 1997!

Anyway enough about that, let's talk about the series that put BEMANI on the map! 'BEMANI' of course being leet Japanese short-hand for 'biitomania' (beatmania spelled out in romaji.). The game sounds simple, but gets very challenging.

Select a song, and using the special turntable controller peripheral, start playing! As the notes fall to the bottom of the screen, press the corresponding key or scratch the turntable at the right time. Of course nowadays games like that are commonplace with Guitar Hero and ROCKBAND, but back then it was totally unheard of to have a game like that that needed a special controller (that wasn't like a driving sim or light-gun game)

beatmania had several arcade and home releases, and even a couple of US and Korean arcade versions! (AC = arcade)

  • beatmania (AC 12/97)
  • beatmania 2nd Mix (AC 3/98, PSX 10/98 released as 'beatmania' )
  • beatmania 3rd Mix (AC 9/98, PSX 12/98) - There was also a version called beatmania Append 3rd Mix mini, which was included on the beatmania 3rd MIX OST, featured some new exclusive songs)
  • beatmania COMPLETE MIX (AC 1/99)
  • beatmania 4th Mix -The Beat Goes On- (AC 4/98, PSX 9/99)
  • beatmania 5th Mix -Time To Get Down- (AC 9/99, PSX 3/2000)
  • beatmania COMPLETE MIX 2 (AC 1/2000)
  • beatmania CLUB MIX (AC 3/2000)
  • beatmania CORE REMIX (AC 11/2000)
  • beatmania 6th Mix -The UK Underground Music (AC 6/2001, PSX 1/2002 released as beatmania 6th+CORE REMIX, a compilation disc that featured many songs from 6th AC, as well as some tracks from CORE REMIX.)
  • beatmania 7th Mix -Keepin Evolution- (AC 1/2002) One of the only beatmania games that never saw a home version release, as they were released after the Playstation 2's debut, and Konami was focusing alot of their efforts on making games for Sony's newest system at this point.)
  • beatmania: THE FINAL (AC 6/2002) Funny how the 5 key series was ending just as we were starting out, huh? :P


Also, there were a few US and Korean versions released in arcades, (as 'HipHopMania' here in the states, and 'beatstage' in Korea):

US:

  • HipHopMania
  • HipHopMania Complete Mix
  • HipHopMania Complete Mix 2 (of course these games hardly count as 'Complete Mix'es, as there were still some licensed songs that didn't make the cut.


Korea:
(Unfortunately none of these seem to have any exclusive Korean tracks)

  • beatstage
  • beatstage Complete MIX
  • beatstage Complete MIX 2

Also unheard of at the time, was the concept of an 'append disc'. Before the advent of XBOX Live! and ROCKBAND's weekly 'downloadable content', if Konami wanted to release additional songs for its games, they had to put out 'append discs', which had a special yellow and black icon noting the need for the user to own one of the other games that served as a 'key disc' (several of the home versions of beatmania also doubled as a 'Key Disc' which could play any of the songs on these append discs)

In addition to the main series releases and arcade games, there were also several special console-only releases of beatmania, many of which were these 'Append discs' (key discs are in bold):

  • beatmania Append Yebisu Mix - an 'Append disc' that came with the original beatmania on PSX, featuring all new tracks
  • beatmania Append GOTTAMIX (3/99) -features 19 all-new console exclusives, and three 'beatmania 4th Mix' preview songs.
  • beatmania Best Hits (6/2000) - (And yes, this and DDR's 'Best Hits' is what inspired the name for the OLR Season 1 highlight reel I collaborated with Misty on :3) - The result of a voting poll, Konami asked the fans what songs they wanted in this best-of for beatmania on the PSX.
  • beatmania feat. Dreams Come True (AC 6/2000, PSX 7/2000) -Before there was Guitar Hero: Van Halen and ROCKBAND: The Beatles, Konami released one of the first 'single artist' music games, this home version of the arcade release featured many of DCT's songs, as well as a few Konami originals. Of course the difficulty isn't as high as some of the other games, probably to cater to a wider audience due to the included licensed tracks.
  • beatmania GOTTAMIX 2 - Going Global (PSX 9/2000) Another exclusive home version with all-new songs from all around the world (hence the 'Going Global' subtitle)
  • beatmania Club Mix (12/2000) Featuing one brand-new console exclusive song, as well as the 'bonus edit' mode featuring songs from beatmania: Complete Mix 2 with new notecharts.
  • beatmania: The Sound of TOKYO! (3/2001) Produced by Konishi Yasuharu.
  • beatmania 6th+CORE REMIX (1/2002) The last home version for the 5-key games, this one also supported the recently released beatmania IIDX controller (as did all the previous versions, but this one was specially designed with support for it in mind), which had a reversible keypad, so you could play with scratch on the left if you wanted.


One other thing I should mention here is there was actually a 'mini' version of the regular beatmania cabinet, as seen in this picture (shoutout to letshavetea for reminding me about this):


(roughly translated, This is compact!)

Which definetly helped for those Japanese arcades limited on space... although I'm not sure if it was compatible with all the mixes or not... I believe they all used the same hardware.

Of course, while beatmania was running its course, a couple of upgraded versions to the beatmania series were released. beatmania IIDX (which is still going as of this writing, with IIDX18: ResortAnthem currently location testing in Japanese arcades... tune in next week as we blow the doors off that series!) and beatmania III, which I will talk a little bit about here.

beatmania III had a similar layout to the original 5-key version, except now the game had the addition of an effector footpedal down at the bottom of the machine, and if you stepped on it, you could change the effects during the song, in a similar fashion to beatmania IIDX's effectors... infact, the IIDX controller was originally designed with a jack for a possible home conversion of beatmania III, but that never materialized. Even more ironic, is the jack for the footpedal was actually carried over to the new controller that came with the US release of beatmania on PS2. (released in 2006) From the pamphlet that came with the controller:

'CONTROLLER BASE PLUG' This plug should always be attached to the BM CONTROLLER base to protect the delicate connector underneath. There is no need to remove this plug because this section of the BM CONTROLLER serves no function with the game software. Until a specific use or need for this connector is determined, please leave the plug attached to the controller base.

Interestingly, I read online that you could plug the footpedal included with the drummania MIDI drumkit and on the JP versions of IIDX you could use it to switch effector settings. While it kinda sucks that there was no home version of beatmania III (or any other american home releases of beatmania, but that's a rant for next week) there were however, a small handful of arcade versions:

  • beatmania III (3/2000)
  • beatmania III: Append CORE REMIX (12/2000)
  • beatmania III: Append 6th MIX (6/2001)
  • beatmania III: Append 7th MIX (6/2002)
  • beatmania III: THE FINAL (7/2002)

 

One other interesting thing about the inclusion of the foot pedal, is there was even a dedicated mode that integrated the foot pedal as one of the notes you needed to hit in tune to the music.

Also cool about the beatmania III cabinets, were the gigantic speakers that sat on both sides of it. These things were fucking huge, and thusly, really fucking loud. Back when my local arcade had a beatmania III: Append 6th MIX it was almost too loud to spend too much time on... but that's probably just me.

Another feature was that you could save your effector settings and high scores to a 3.5" floppy disk (if you can still find them, I heard Sony actually pulled the plug on those old floppies...) You could also unlock things on certain versions of beatmania III. Also interesting is the inclusion of a headphone jack, almost a decade before the DJ MAX Technika games did it.

Unfortunately, as you've probably seen in the games lists, both of these games concluded in the middle of 2002, with the release of each series' respective 'THE FINAL' versions. But tune in next week, as I take a look at the history of the 'Next Generation Version' of beatmania, beatmania IIDX! I hope you'll tune in for that next week.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 June 2010 12:08
 

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