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Pop'n Music (ポップンミュージック), most commonly shortened to Pop'n, PM or PNM, is a music video game in Konami's Bemani series. The game is notable for its bright colors, upbeat songs, and cute character graphics. Although Pop'n Music was originally intended to be played by couples on dates, it has greatly escalated in difficulty since early versions, and has since attracted many players of Beatmania and other Bemani games. Originally released in 1998, the game has had 15 home releases in Japan as well as many arcade versions.
- Pop'n Music (1998)
- Pop'n Music 2 (1999)
- Pop'n Music 3 (1999)
- Pop'n Music 4 (2000)
- Pop'n Music 5 (2000)
- Pop'n Music Animelo (2000)
- Pop'n Music 6 (2001)
- Pop'n Music 7 (2001)
- Pop'n Music 8 (2002)
- Pop'n Music 9 (2002)
- Pop'n Music 10 (2003)
- Pop'n Music 11 (2004)
- Pop'n Music Iroha (12) (2004)
- Pop'n Music Carnival (13) (2005)
- Pop'n Music FEVER! (14) (2006)
- Pop'n Music ADVENTURE (15) (2007)
- Pop'n Music PARTY! (16) (2008)
- Pop'n Music THE MOVIE (17) (2009)
- Pop'n Music Sengoku Retsuden (18) (2010)
- Pop'n Music Tune Street (19) (2010(Location Test))
Pop'n Music Mickey Tunes (2000)
Consists of Disney music. The PlayStation port is known as Pop'n Music Disney Tunes.
Pop'n Music Animelo 2 (2001)
It is notable for being the most expensive Pop'n Music version to date, due to its songlist consisting completely of anime- and television show-licensed songs.[ This version has also been famed because of its exclusive possession of the infamous "double" and "triple" mods. These options were originally made with the intention of allowing one or two extra people to play along by respectively adding one or two extra notes for every note in the chart, sometimes resulting in a chord of all nine buttons. However, it became a popular challenge for a player to play a song with "double" or "triple" by themselves. ]
The following games have only been released in Japan and Asia.
Pop'n Music and Pop'n Music 2 were released on the PlayStation and the Dreamcast, and for both consoles two further append discs were released: Pop'n Music 3 and Pop'n Music 4. These later two versions required a "key disc", i.e. one had to already own Pop'n Music 2. A special controller featuring the nine colored buttons of the arcade version of the game was released for both consoles.
Pop'n Music 5, Pop'n Music 6, Pop'n Music Animation Melody and Pop'n Music Disney Tunes were then released for the PlayStation, but there were no further releases on the Dreamcast. Pop'n Music 5 and 6 could be used as "key discs" to play the append discs mentioned above.
Pop'n Music 7, 8, and 9 were released on the PlayStation 2, as well as an anthology version, Pop'n Music Best Hits.
10, 11, Iroha (12), Carnival (13), and FEVER! (14) were also released on the PlayStation 2. These versions are a step up from the previous PS2 games with their more advanced interfaces and introduction of arcade accurate hi-speed mods ranging from 2 - 6. Pop'n Music 11 introduced hi-speed 5. The recent PlayStation 2 release of Pop'n Music FEVER! (14) as included hi-speed mods at .5 increments, which first appeared on the arcade version of Pop'n ADVENTURE (15).
A revised controller was also released for the PS2 at the same time as Pop'n Music 10, though it is also compatible with the original PlayStation.
The Game Boy Color also had three Pop'n Music games: Pop'n Music GB, Pop'n Music GB Animation Melody, and Pop'n Music GB Disney Tunes.
Unlike most of Konami's Bemani series, the Pop'n Music interface is not designed to represent any actual musical instrument. Instead, it uses nine buttons each three-and-a-half-inches in diameter, laid out in two rows; five on the bottom, and four on top. Like in most Bemani games, color-coded notes (in this game called "Pop-kun" (ポップ君) and anthropomorphized with faces) fall from the top of the screen in nine rows that correspond to the buttons. When a note reaches the red line at the bottom of the screen, the player presses the button, which triggers a sound within the song.
When a note is played, an accuracy rating is displayed, either "Great", "Good", or "Bad". "Great" scoring notes are worth 100% of their portion of the score, "Good" scoring notes 20%, and "Bad" notes 0%. The maximum amount of points possible in any single-stage song is 100,000, and unlike beatmania or beatmania IIDX, can not be exceeded as no additional score bonuses are given. A "Combo" tally is kept of properly played notes like in other Bemani games, but always excludes the first note played; for example, if a song has 322 notes, the maximum combo will be 321. Until Pop'n Music 6, "Good" notes would interrupt a player's combo.
Additionally, in "Expert Mode", and more recently "Cho-Challenge Mode" (超CHALLENGE モード, "Super Challenge Mode"), another accuracy score is added, "Cool". This makes songs played in these modes significantly more difficult to achieve high scores on, as the value of "Great" and "Good" are decreased.
In all modes from Pop'n Music 6 and onward, after a song is selected, a splash screen that is displayed showing the character, banner, and BPM of the song. When the player presses both yellow buttons at this screen, an options menu is displayed, where the player can edit the following gameplay options:
- Hi-Speed: Initially only provided in x2, x3, and x4, current versions allow up to x6 in increments of x0.5. The notes move faster, but are spaced further apart, which may make them easier to read.
- Pop-kun: This option changes the appearance of the notes that appear on the screen, emulating beatmania ("BEAT-POP"), Pop'n Stage ("STAGE-POP"), or even the icons of the opposing character ("CHARA-POP").
- Appearance: The options here affect the visibility of the notes on the screen. "Hidden" conceals the notes once they're about halfway down the screen, while "Sudden" hides them until about halfway. "Hidden+Sudden" only shows the notes for a brief sliver of the screen's area.
- Random: These options affect how the patterns of notes are processed. "Random" will shuffle the rows so patterns are slightly different- for example, all notes on one button may instead be played on another button. "Mirror" will swap the patterns horizontally. "S-Random" or "Super Random" will shuffle every note individually- however, no button will have more notes on it than in the original chart. For example, if a song has no notes on the Right Yellow button, an S-Random pattern will not place any notes on that button.
Like other games in the series, Pop'n Music has a "Groove Gauge" that shows the player's performance. Continually playing the notes in the song properly will cause the Groove Gauge to rise. The goal of the player is to finish the song with the Groove Gauge in the "clear zone", a red portion that represents the top quarter of the bar. When the gauge is at its maximum, "Great" notes become "Fever"- this is purely aesthetic, providing no bonus to score, and usually causes the player's chosen character to perform a different animation. If a player ends a song while in Fever mode, the character's win animation is also often different. In Expert and Cho-Challenge, "Great" does not become Fever, and instead "Cool" flashes in a similar manner to how "Fever" is displayed in other modes.
In the Challenge and Cho-Challenge Modes, players are not only scored on their individual songs, but are also given a Challenge Score. Each song is assigned a point value on a scale from 1 to 43, and at the end of a game in one of these modes, the total is tallied. On specific numbers, a player may be allowed an "EXtra Stage", an additional stage in which the most difficult charts ("EX" charts) for certain songs may be played and unlocked. EXtra stages use a different gauge than usual, a "Stamina" gauge similar to the life bar in a fighting game, or Dance Dance Revolution's Groove Gauge, where complete depletion means the end of the song.
Additionally in these modes, options called "Norma" and "Ojama" may be used to add point values to the player's Challenge Score. A "Norma" is a set goal, like achieving a combo of over 200 notes, or a score over 90,000, while an "Ojama" is an active means of periodically distracting or disrupting the player, like "Dance", where the opposing character jumps to the middle of the screen to block the notes, or "Bomber", where additional Pop-kun with sunglasses are added that, when played, not only explode with an obscuring cloud of smoke, but also cause damage to the player's Groove Gauge. Up to two options can be activated at once. Before Cho-Challenge was introduced, a player could choose to have one option selected to play for the entire duration of the song at 1.5 times the point value of the Ojama, but Cho-Challenge comes with the option "Zutto On!" (ずっとON!, "Always On"), which enables the player to do this with any two options.
Another popular mode of play is Battle Mode. Two players compete against each other on the same cabinet or controller using only three buttons (Green, Yellow, and White) to play the same note chart, and a fourth "action" button (Blue). As a player scores "Great" ratings on notes, a power meter increases near the bottom of the screen, and once it reaches a certain level, the player can press the action button. Doing so starts a minigame along the bottom of the screen, requiring the players to alternate pressing the action button in time with the song, in addition to playing the note chart. When one of the players misses, an Ojama is inflicted on them.
Introduced in Pop'n Music 6 is Expert Mode, similar to Nonstop Mode in other Bemani series. The player selects from a pre-made course of four songs and plays through the selected course with a "Stamina" life bar that does not recover. Expert Mode was removed after Pop'n Music 18 Sengoku Retsuden.
Introduced in Pop'n Music 9 is Osusume (オススメ, Lit. "Recommendation") Mode, where the player is asked a series of questions, and the game provides an Expert course based on the player's answers. It was removed after Pop'n Music 11.
With the introduction of the "E-Amuse" system in Japan, Pop'n Music 12 Iroha is the first game to feature "Net Taisen Mode" (NET対戦 モード, "Net Battle Mode"). This mode allows players to compete over the E-Amuse network in real time with players on other E-Amuse-ready cabinets. In Pop'n Music 17 The Movie, a CPU-emulated version of this mode has been added, similar to the "Taisen" mode found on consumer releases.
Starting in Pop'n Music 12 Iroha, "Normal Mode", the standard mode of play, has been removed, replaced instead by "Enjoy Mode". Enjoy Mode is a simplified mode for beginners with a reduced song list, simple note charts, and a less complex grading system, in which the player begins with 100 points and is docked one for each note they fail to play properly. Enjoy Mode incorporates many of the games licensed tracks, providing most players in Japan a mode in which they know the songs and can more easily become interested in the game.
At the start of PM6, the access on extra stage is enabled and introduced. If the player is now playing Challenge mode, and if they access the ojama, 80K Points and at least 500 combo, then they will be eligible for the extra stage. The extra stage is using the expert mode gauge, options applied on final stage, Cool! enabled, and also facing a harder song. (Normal mode using 18-21, Hyper mode using 32-36 and Ex mode using 40+ on those songs) The score bonus will be applied on the total score, but on the release of Carnival!, Cho-challenge score is used in separate modes. Cho-challenge mode has also have the Extra stage effect.
Design and Difficulty
Compared to the rest of the bemani series, Pop'n Music does not actually mimic an instrument. Instead, you play different instruments throughout the song using the buttons. The graphics are brightly colored and primarily solid shapes, rather than the metallic and textured interfaces of other Bemani games. As in earlier DDR versions, players may choose a character to play as. The songs are separated by genres like Reggae, Disco Queen, Spy, or Anime Hero, in addition to the usual bemani genres of eurobeat and forms of electronica. In addition to the genres, there are also series of songs with similar elements, like the Classic series (which are medleys of classical music) and the Powerfolk series. Each song has an Enjoy Mode (beginner and Easy notes), 5-line Mode (for 5 buttons) and Normal mode (on-beat notes and simple chords), most songs have a Hyper mode (with more notes and harder chords), and some songs have an EXtra mode (with lots of notes and complicated chords). Unlike other Bemani games, Pop'n Music has no other visuals except the character the player chose, the character for the song the player is playing "against," and the notes coming down to the bar at the bottom. Where Beatmania and Beatmania IIDX have videos of some kind, Pop'n Music has no video at all. However, the characters are animated, and react based on how you play.
Pop'n Music becomes extremely challenging at high difficulty levels. The higher difficulty levels are considered by some to be the most challenging songs in any music game. Difficulty levels range from 1-43, 1 being the easiest. The spectrum is very broad, allowing new players to easily adapt to the game play as well as presenting a high level of challenge for even the most experienced players. High-level players can work up a heavy sweat due to fast-moving arms and the stamina drain it causes.
Pop'n Stage is a dancing game based around the Pop'n Music design and songs, with ten "switches" (four diagonals and a center on each side, just like Pump It Up's panel placement). It is a combination of Pop'n Music and Dance Dance Revolution, using Pop'n-style graphics with DDR-style gameplay. The game has a bright, colorful interface and machine design, and is easy compared to most other Bemani games.
Pop'n Stage only supports one player at a time; 6-switch and 10-switch modes are available (corresponding to Pump It Up's half double and full double; in other words, 6-switch mode doesn't use the four outer corners).
- Pop'n World, Konami of Japan's official Pop'n Music site.
- Konami - Pop'n Stage Top
- Solid State Squad pop'n division, an American Pop'n Score Tracking Site
- Bemanistyle.com, Major North American Bemani Site.