Introduction: I feel that a fair warning is required when reviewing this game, I would not feel like a responsible citizen otherwise. *WARNING* If you play Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (Elite Beat Agents) your world will be reduced to catchy J-pop tunes and a series of coloured and numbered circles dancing before your eyes. Your work will suffer, your social life will suffer, if you have a partner/wife/dog or cat, get rid of them now, they are merely a hindrance to what is, simply put, the greatest reason to ever own a DS. Now that the warning is out of the way and I can feel responsible, it is time to get down to the review. As mentioned, Osu! Tatakae Ouendan! is, in my humble opinion the greatest game the system has seen to date. Taking cues from other rhythm games such as DDR, the concept is simple; tap the coloured circles in time with the music and in the correct order. That's it, nothing more. Sounds easy right? Well, come and tell me that when you have played Ready Steady Go on the hardest difficulty 83 times in a row. Go on, I dare you. Gameplay: 10/10 The mantra of Ouendan should be thus, beauty in simplicity. The game can be picked up by anyone on the easiest difficulty setting and you will be happily tapping away at coloured circles to your heart's content. However, once you begin to unlock the 3rd and 4th difficulty levels, things start to change. The story breaks down like this, you are a uniformed team of Elite Beat Agents that go around the world motivating people to do well in their lives. This can range from studying hard to achieve good results, building a pyramid successfully, winning a horse race and catching a criminal, and one of my personal favourites, beating a bully at dodgeball. The story is really not that important, it is the music and gameplay that makes this game what it is. The basic premise is simply to follow a series of colour coded and numbered circles around the screen that appear in time with the song playing in the background. This basic idea is further built upon by the inclusion of following a moving ball that traces a track around the screen. You must keep the tip of your stylus on the ball to obtain full points. This can be more difficult as it sounds, as often, the path you are following will weave its way around the screen and also bounce backwards and forwards, forcing you to change the direction of your stylus stroke rapidly. If you hit a coloured circle perfectly in time with the music you will receive 300 points, just off time, 100 points, way off time, 50 points and a total miss will lose you points. The point system is very important as you have a life metre at the top of the screen that constantly goes down; you must keep it up as much as possible by getting as many points as possible. On the harder levels, this becomes a battle of frustration, as you essentially must get all 300 points on every circle, or your life bar falls below half way, thus making it close to impossible to refill back up to full. On the harder difficulties, the circles appear thick and fast, forcing you to tap from the left to the right of the screen very quickly. Put simply, you must be rather dexterous to play this game with any success. Graphics: 9/10 The graphics in Ouendan are simple, yet pleasing. In many instances it is akin to playing chapters in a manga graphic novel, the story is told through comic panels in between the music. The bottom screen contains the dancing team, located behind the all important coloured circles. As you score hits, they will perform dance moves, although you will barely see them, as all you will be focussing on will be the circles and tracks you need to touch. The top screen is a different matter, this is where the story of the game is told. Each different song has a totally unique comic struip story attached to it. As I do not read Japanese, I cannot understand the language behind the stories, however, it is incredibly simple to pick up the general gist of the story simply by watching. The graphics are colourful and exciting, oozing the graphic style that only the Japanese can produce and master. Sometimes you will notice some slight pixellation on some of the characters int he comic strips, however, this does not detract from the overall graphic style. Sound: 9/10 This is where the game truly shines, and understandably, as the game is entirely based around music. The songs are good quality, catchy and above all fun to play. Each and every one is J-Pop or J-rock and there is a wide selection of songs to play, 15 in total. Ready Steady Go, the final level of the game is a popular anime tune and really is a great track to play along with. Even though I am not Japanese, I can appreciate the catchiness of the songs and you do not need to be able to understand the lyrics to enjoy the game. The music is all good quality and blasts out of your DS speakers with gusto. While not wuite the quality of an mp3 there is certainly no crackling or hissing and only a true audiophile could complain about the music quality. One thing tht can detract from the sound is that each time you hit a circle you make a sound, sometimes a whistle, sometime a cymbal and in select tracks, other sounds specific to the music. This is ok if you are a top Ouendan player and hit all the circles in time, however, if you are slightly off time it can become confusing as the sounds do not match the music, thereby putting you off even more and often causing you to lose the level. Lasting Replay: 7/10 This depends on what angle you take on the game. It is short, very short, the first level is barely even worth playing it is so simple. If you have any experience at all with rhythm games you will breeze through it in no time. However, the 2 final levels will provide a great challenge, even for the most seasoned players. The final cheerleader level is, simply put, insane in its difficulty. You will scream, you will cry and you will laugh maniacally each time you manage to pass one of the levels. It took me many hours of playing to even get to this stage, and currently I am still attempting to pass the final stages. This extreme difficulty provides the game with some lasting appeal, however, once you have beaten this final stage, there really is no reason to keep playing. I would recommend this game for people who do not mind a game that you will really only play once through. However, it would certainly be fun to pick it up again once it had gathered some dust and play through the harder levels, as once you were out of practice, it would provide a real challenge all over again. Overall: 9/10 Anyone who owns a DS should own this game, there is no excuse, unless you don't like rhythm games. The gameplay is fantastic, the music will keep you bopping along happily for hours and the difficulty level is nothing short of hair-tearing frustration on an epic scale. Why are you still reading this? Go out, buy it, play it and don’t come up for air until you have those cheerleaders dancing on your screen to the tune of Ready Steady Go. Go on, you know you want to.