It’s no secret that rhythm games in the United States are popular. Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and DJ Hero are now known to almost everyone. Unfortunately, arcades are all but a dying business in the US. I remember the days when I was a kid and my mom/dad would give me 4 bucks to entertain myself at the Tilt Arcade while they did their shopping. The death of Arcades in the US is most likely due to the popularity of console systems. When I was a kid, sure we had Nintendo, but the games at the arcade were of a higher quality. Now graphics and gameplay of console and PC games are above the level of arcade games.
In my travels to Japan, I immediately noticed that Arcades are a common thing in larger cities. In a square mile you could find 7 arcades or so (in my experience). Another obvious thing I noticed at the Japan/Osaka arcades is the amount of rhythm games to play. Games I’ve never heard of before. Games like: Pop’n Music, Pop’n Movie, Beatmania IIDX, Guitar Freaks, and DrumMania. Beatmania IIDX has been around since February 26, 1999! Being that I’ve played DDR, Stepmania, and Guitar Hero, I figured that I’d give these games a shot. I found that these were not simply “pick up and play casually” games. People I’ve talked to said they’ve played these games for years to build their skill!
One game that caught my eye in particular was Pop’n Music. This game has 2 rows of buttons, with 4 on the top row and 5 on the bottom. I played one time and became addicted, even though I was clearly a noob. After playing this game off-and-on for the duration of my vacation in Japan and probably putting over $80 USD in to the machine, I decided that I should get a controller so I can play it in the US. Note that they do not sell these games in the United States, you have to purchase them from a site like www.play-asia.com
The original arcade-style controller for Pop’n Music is out of stock so I had to look elsewhere. After speaking with my friend at the arcade in Japan, he recommended DJ Dao for controllers. This site can be accessed here: http://www.bemaniasc.com/eng/index.php
DJ Dao’s controllers are known for being the best reproduction of the arcade controller while offering the option for better switches and customizing the color(s). The stock Pop’n Music ASC controller from his site is $210, but shipping is expensive because it is coming from China.
All you need now is the following to play:
1. US or Japanese PS2
2. Pop’n Music Games (Also from japan-guide website)
3. A Pop’n Music Controller
Note that if you have the US PS2 it is region locked for NTSC/US. In order to play the games from Japan you need a boot disc to play discs from other regions. You can purchase the Swap Magic 3 boot disc from http://www.swapmagic3.com. Please make sure you select the boot disc for YOUR REGION of PS2, not the region of discs that you want to play. So I purchased the NTSC DVD boot disc to play my purchased Pop’n Music games. Boot up the DVD, wait for the disc to stop, and swap it with your Pop’n game.
Connecting to PC:
The DJ Dao controller comes with an adaptor for both Playstation 2 port and Parallel ports. If you are a developer and want to use this controller for your own Rhythm game, here is how to connect it to your PC.
1. Enable Parallel in your BIOS
2. Download configuration software from DJ Dao here: http://www.bemaniasc.com/download/drivers.rar
3. Extract and open the version applicable.
4. Follow on-screen instructions and when you are done you should have “windows new device found” notifications
5. Control Panel -> Game Controllers
6. Set to button mode, and make sure they are all working
(Does not work with XP 64-bit)
My buttons were flashing when I did this, and realized that the board I received had an issue. It would work with my PS2 just fine, but on my PC it showed the far right button as flashing. I replaced the board with the spare that DJ Dao ships (known issue?) and it was working! Map your buttons and you can now play or use the controller with your own app.
Pictures of my DJ Dao Pop’n ASC below:
(After the bottom cover was removed)
(Close up of controller board)
Please let me know if you have any questions. This game is addicting.
Time to go play