Elite Beat Agents Impressions
In short, I expected Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan USA... and pretty much got it.
Ouendan has a few natural advantages. Being the original, being in a language where I can't tell if the music is stupid, and me being a bit of a japanophile, an Americanized version with popular music has an uphill battle. However, it seems to have worked out pretty well, mostly. I still can't even stand the spelling of Sk8er Boi, but for every one of those there's a YMCA and September. The balance is tilted towards recent music, but there is more 70s and 80s stuff than I was expecting.
The stories, drawing, and humor are all par on Ouendan. Sometimes you'll even notice a familiar character design or sound effect used. All stages in Ouendan and EBA are in short "Person(s) get in a jam and cal for help from Ouendan/EBA", but a few in EBA are recognizable as direct counterparts. I know it's what the game is supposed to be, but it really does feel like what Ouendan would've been if it had just been born in another country to begin with.
The Agents themselves are pretty great. I don't remember who it was that described them as a cross between the Blues Brothers and the Men in Black, but that's a great description. Nothing against Ouendan's male cheer squad, but these guys with their suits and sunglasses and fancy dance moves have a greater sense of cool. An additional creepy alternate-Ouendan thing is that even the player characters, while not looking like Ouendan's characters in different outfits, noticeably follow a similar pattern. The standard difficulty guy has tall hair. Easy difficulty guy is younger with close-cropped hair. Hard difficulty guy is older, higher-ranked, and wears a hat. I haven't unlocked EBA's highest difficulty yet, so I can't compare there.
The gameplay all seems quite identical. There is a bit more of it, though. There are the same number of main stages as in Ouendan, but it seems that upon reaching certain cumulative high score goals, bonus stages are unlocked. I've got 2 of I believe 3.
One addition I didn't even remember hearing had been added in was Rumble Pak support. This is my third Rumble Pak compatible game, but my favorite in its use. For purposes of pinball or being a complement to hitting an enemy, it's pretty weak and even noisy at times. However, the slight rumble when you tap a circle on screen, along with the percussive audio that accompanies it, gives it a sort of bubble-popping feeling which is just fun.