If there’s one thing that broke through the stagnant clutch of fighting games and 3D racing games in late Nineties arcades, it was the music game revolution – and Konami was the company at the forefront of that boom. At first all we heard in the West was scattered tales of salarymen dancing on machines in Tokyo arcades, but soon enough the more intrepid arcade operators were bringing these machines our way: DrumMania, Guitar Freaks, Dance Dance Revolution and the one that kicked the whole craze off, Beatmania. Beatmania is a pretty simple game – notes fall down the screen, and you hit the corresponding button (or scratch with the turntable) when they reach the bottom.
Konami tried to spread the phenomenon to the PlayStation with a conversion of Beatmania, too. This was pretty successful in Japan, but didn’t quite come off in the European market. That wasn’t for want of trying, though – the company licensed some regionally appropriate tunes including Moloko’s “Sing It Back”, and even went so far as to introduce a new controller for the market. Unfortunately, the latter move was more of a drawback than a positive step, as the raised turntable and piano-style keys of the European controller are not well-liked by fans.
Despite all of this, the game itself is pretty good and didn’t deserve its eventual fate – unspectacular sales and no export for the sequels. As an entry point into a notoriously hardcore series, it’s still a pretty good buy!