MMW-62 -- The Latest in Mobile Music Games

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on Japan's music technology news

Issue No. 62
Monday, July 5, 2004



++ FEATURE: The Latest in Mobile Music Games

** Tower Mobile Moves To Provide Mastertones in Japan
** Japanese Mobile Content Brings in 394 Billion Yen in Fiscal 2003
** Yamaha Starts New Mastertone Service For Piano

++ EVENT: PremiumMusic Fair

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++ FEATURE: The Latest in Mobile Music Games

Arcade and PC versions of games featuring music, dance and rhythm themes
have enjoyed a strong wave of popularity in Japan over the last several
years. When the first Java-capable handsets appeared here in 2001, a
few adventurous content providers introduced scaled-back mobile versions
of some of these games, including Konami's "Dance Dance Revolution."
Because of program size restrictions and various handset issues,
however, the mobile versions proved extremely difficult to develop
and maintain. As a result, there was very little in the way of new
mobile music games introduced in the years that followed.

This situation appears to be changing this year, though, and already
we've seen the release of three new music game adaptations since
January. Taking advantage of Java technology advances in the latest
models, software developers are now able to add all kinds of sound,
graphics and synchronization features that have been virtually
impossible with earlier handsets. Let's take a look at three of
these recent mobile music game releases:

1. beatmania IIDX

This game from Konami is based on the latest arcade version (beatmania
IIDX 10th style). The idea is this: As your selected song plays, you
must provide scratches and other DJ-like percussive effects at the
right points in the song. Each time you hit a button to produce an
effect, your rhythmic accuracy is rated on a scale of 1 to 5. At the
end of each song, you are given an overall "DJ" letter grade ranging
from A to F.

2. Bust A Move

In this game, you choose and control a 3D character and try to
"outdance" your computer opponent by creating different combinations
of dance moves in time with the music. You get more points for
rhythmically difficult combo moves, and you can throw in other
moves intended to mess up your opponent. Made by Square Enix, the
game features some nice 3D effects and comes surprisingly close to
replicating the feel of the PC game console version.

3. Taiko No Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master)

Adapted from Namco's popular PlayStation version, Taiko No Tatsujin
is similar to beatmania in that the object is to play a rhythm part
in time with different songs. Rather than a techno DJ feel, however,
the game has an "old-time" Japanese festival theme, with Japanese
traditional drums (taiko) used in place of DJ rhythm effects. Namco
has done a good job of using authentic taiko sounds and putting taiko
parts to modern pop songs (often to very humorous effect).

These games are all representative of a new generation of Java applis
that work only on the latest models. Until recently, it had been
difficult to obtain approval for new applis that did not support
older handsets, and this tended to dissuade content providers from
launching new appli projects. This year, however, we are
finally seeing a new crop of applis that take full advantage of
the sound and graphic features of the new phones.
This is an encouraging trend for developers and content providers,
who can now spend more of their time creating new applications rather
than maintaining old ones.

Screenshots and other information: (Japanese only)
beatmania IIDX:

Bust A Move:,1082349068,23979,0,0.html

Taiko No Tatsujin:

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** Tower Mobile Moves To Provide Mastertones in Japan
In brief: Tower Mobile, the mobile division of Tower Records Japan,
announced last week that it will begin offering a mastertone download
service in Japan. The new service will be offered as a joint venture
with UK-based AIM (Association of Independent Music), and production
of the digital music files will be done by Japanese mobile technology
company Crosswarp.


** Japanese Mobile Content Brings in 394 Billion Yen in Fiscal 2003
In brief: Japan's market for paid mobile content rose to 394.1 Billion
yen ($3.58 billion) for the fiscal year 2003 (April 2003 through March
2004). These figures were compiled through a survey conducted by the
Mobile Contents Forum (MCF), and represent a 31 percent increase over
fiscal 2002. Ringtones accounted for over 60 percent of this market.


** Yamaha Starts New Mastertone Service For Piano
In brief: On Friday, July 2, Yamaha Corporation opened a new
chaku-uta (mastertone) service for the Vodafone Live! portal in
Japan. The new service will be part of Yamaha's "Piano Hearts"
ringtone service and will feature an initial selection of 100 songs.
The service will cost 210 yen ($1.91) per month and subscribers can
download up to 4 songs per month.

Source (Japanese only):

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++ EVENT: PremiumMusic Fair

The PremiumMusic Fair will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at
Potsdammer Platz in Berlin. This fair aims to to bring together
exhibitors (indie labels, producers, repertoire owners) with music
content providers and others who need music. The PremiumMusic fair is
organized in a similar way to a fashion fair, with no presentation
booths and an emphasis on communication and networking.

More information:

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Written by: Steve Myers (
Steve Myers is president and chief enthusiast of Theta Music
Technologies, which specializes in the development of music-related
software applications.

Edited by J@pan Inc editor: (


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