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Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012

Namco game maker beats the drum on change


Ken Nakadate, a game producer with Namco Bandai Games Inc., says he is constantly trying to come up with new ideas to make his popular drum game "Taiko no Tatsujin" more enjoyable.

News photo
Bang on the drum all day: Ken Nakadate, a game producer with Namco Bandai Games Inc., poses in front of a "Taiko no Tatsujin," a popular drumming game he developed for arcades, on Jan. 10. KYODO

"It feels good taking on challenges and using coworkers' ideas to help complete games," said Nakadate, 36, who heads a team of about 50 working on the 11-year-old game series.

The team has come up with a variety of ideas to improve the game, including using recent songs and creating popular gizmos to make the game more exciting.

"Taiko no Tatsujin" has sold 4,000 units so far. Game machines used in video game arcades are usually regarded as hits if 1,000 units are sold.

The machine, a huge arcade hit, has parts that resemble "wadaiko," or traditional Japanese drums.

Players use drumsticks to mimic the music played in the background and earn points according to their performance.

"There aren't many people who have played a wadaiko — even if they have seen it at festivals," Nakadate said. "People love the game because they like using the 'dondon' and 'katsukatsu' sounds to create a harmony," he said.

About 150 tunes — including J-pop hits by groups such as AKB48 and theme songs from animated movies — are used in the game.

"It attracts a wide range of users from children to adults, including parents and children playing together."

As a university student, Nakadate, a Tokyo native, eyed work in other fields. But when considering what kind of firm he wanted to work for, he recalled his elementary school days as a video-game lover, which ultimately led him to Namco.

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