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Under 100K Club: Gitaroo Man/Gitaroo Man Lives! (PS2/PSP)
Posted on Sunday, April 24 2011 @ 19:46:36 PST

One of my favorite rhythm games was brought back to my attention recently... actually, about when I came up with the idea of this "Under 100K Club" blog series.  Many gamers seem to already know about the crybaby hero of the planet Gitaroo, but I don't know how many people have actually played the game to know why he's important.  So first, for any newcomers, a quick history lesson.

Gitaroo Man was originally released in the first few years of the PS2's lifespan, and was met with little fanfare.  Between the small release numbers, the lack of widespread advertising and the quirkiness of the game itself, it's not surprising that the sales were pretty poor.  There was a reprint from the Game Quest Direct, but unfortunately I couldn't find ANY sales numbers on either printing.  But I know it wasn't a huge run... just ask any of your hardcore gamer buds if they've played it themselves, and chances are even that number is slim.  Thankfully, the PSP incarnation, Gitaroo Man Lives!, has some sales numbers to go off of, and they're not especially promising either.

According to VGChartz.com, a grand total of 36,612 copies have been sold in the US.  That's pretty measly for such a fun, unique, original game with a fresh take on a then-burgeoning genre.  Instead of what we expect from a music game - the "hit the right button at the right time" take on playing a song - the songs themselves are weapons, and the button presses are to either attack or defend against an opponent.  The full breakdown can be found here, and it's a fair enough breakdown of how the game plays out.

Why didn't it take off then?  Unique art, all-original music, a playing style all its own, cult-classic... maybe that's it.  Maybe it wasn't destined for anyone but the kids crazy enough to want something so off the beaten path, so different from what was available already, that they would show it the proper amount of tongue-wagging and tail-shaking it deserves.  But then, it's presentation isn't so terribly different from two well-of titles - Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy - which both did well enough in cold hard dinero, so that might not be the right though.  Is it the play, too difficult for the casual player?  Naw, it takes some getting used to but isn't terribly difficult to pick up... I give up, I don't know why it didn't sell.

Maybe it WAS just that Koei only delivered about 20 copies to US store shelves.  'Tis a shame, really.  But at least the PSP incarnation is still easy enough to find for most players... a quick search on Amazon has it coming up for under twenty bucks, too!  Sure it's a little short, but it's especially worth the purchase for a budget price.

Have you played Gitaroo Man before?  Share your thoughts in the comments!  Until next time, fellow underdogs...
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