The more sections passed, the better the ending to the story, although the appearance of more people in distress doesn’t seem to depend on whether or not there was a 100% satisfactory resolution to the problem. They just pop up on the 3D city map, running around and yelling for help, until you touch them and spread a little more musical happiness. There are 19 songs in all.
Hardcore Ouendan masters might find the songs a little simple to begin with, since so little has changed since the original. But there’s a challenging difficulty level in which the beat markers disappear shortly before they’re activated. It’s stupidly tough.
Not being particularly masochistic when it comes to rhythm games, we found the standard setting more than adequate. The Easy mode, however, goes too far the other way - it throws up only one or two beats per second, and even then a little hand floats around the screen, showing where you should be looking next. There’s nothing in between, so memorizing the songs is the only way to get past the later levels. Because just a handful of missed beats will result in failure, tricky sections toward the end of a song will require countless attempts, by which time the first verses will be hardwired into your brain in a nightmarish fashion. Playing before bedtime is not advised.
In the interest of getting a perfect score, an instant replay is available after every song. Should you prefer not to have to listen to it immediately after playing, up to 10 can be saved on the game cartridge. There’s also a graph that shows how you did for accuracy over the course of the song, and a final rating that accumulates to unlock the harder levels and different cheerleading squads.
The best thing about Ouendan 2 is the way the music, comic strips and beat choreography all tie together so perfectly. Change any one part of it and you’d have a less successful game, as demonstrated by the lukewarm reception received here by Elite Beat Agents and its soundtrack of Avril Lavigne and Madonna covers. It somehow doesn’t seem right without the J-pop, and whether or not this is the kind of thing you’d listen to normally, it’s exactly what’s required in the game.