Gitaroo Man Lives! Review - 11/09/2007

When it comes to PSP games there are hardly any original titles to choose from. On the other hand there are an amazing amount of average ports that don’t reach the heights of the original. Gitaroo Man Lives! is not one of these ports.

Ported from the Ps2 game, Gitaroo Man Lives! is not a ‘mainstream’ affair. A Bemani game at its core, it focuses on fighting enemies by playing quirky Japanese pop, which can only be described as insane. With the Gitaroo (a magic guitar) at your disposal, you must fend off the opponent with power chords and riffs. This Beat-em-up style of game play works great on the handheld. The game is just a series of 14 songs all of which are of a selected taste. Each song is against a certain type of enemy and so different styles of play are necessary. For instance, one battle sees you avoiding a huge space shark, by defending yourself from its attacks.

The battles are mostly separated into 4 sections, Charge, Attack, Guard and Final. All of which (except Guard) are played using the ‘trace line’ system. By moving the analog stick around, Gitaroo man changes his hold on the Gitaroo. This is used to follow a line, which has notes to be played on it. This ‘hands on’ approach to the gameplay feels great and feels like you're really playing guitar (ala Guitar Hero). While in battle mode it is your average Bemani set up, hit the icons when they reach the centre. This seems like the easier option but as you progress the level become unbearable in their difficulty. With up to 8 icons in mega quick succession you’ll be hard pushed on easy mode, let alone master (which I must say is some of the hardest gameplay I’ve ever experienced).

The game is presented with a slick and polished look with the story told out in a series of artistic video sequences. It’s the one of the best-looking third party games on the console in terms of artistic direction. The amount of extras you can do is shocking. A huge Multiplayer mode is included featuring duet and battle modes. It includes extra songs just for multiplayer battles. These additional songs can also be played independently which is a great feature for those with no one to play with. Sadly there is no Infrastructure mode present but there’s hope for Gitaroo Man Lives! 2. The only niggle with the game is the long loading times between stages which hampers the ‘on the move’ mentality the game gives.

This is one of the best games for the PSP and should be given a go. Although the music isn’t everyone’s taste, the gameplay makes up for this and you’ll soon find yourself entranced by the sound. As a Bemani game this is essential and is the best of its kind on handheld. Buy it now!

- Sam Atkins