Gitaroo Man (ギタルマン) is a video game for the Sony PlayStation 2, published by Koei and developed by iNiS, with visual production by 326 (Mitsuru Nakamura) and music performed by COIL. The player character is U-1 ("Yūichi": a common Japanese boys' name; pronounced "you-one" in the North American and European releases), a young boy who is frequently ridiculed by classmates and passed over by Little Pico, the girl of his dreams. The story proper begins when Puma, a dog with the ability to speak, teaches U-1 to play the guitar, simultaneously teaching the controls of the game to the player, and subsequently revealing to him that he is the last legendary hero of Planet Gitaroo, a title which makes him a target for many varied individuals.
Despite a number of positive reviews, the North American and European versions of Gitaroo Man were produced in very low quantites by Koei and, as a result, have become somewhat rare, and is regarded as a cult video game.
Around November 2005 in North America, copies of Gitaroo Man began popping up in GameStop game stores. This was due to a reprint by GameQuestDirect, similar to their previous reprints of PlayStation RPGs Persona 2 and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, both of which were previously very rare. Due to this reprint, the game can generally be found in most EB Games and Gamestop retail stores in North America.
The game was ported to the Playstation Portable (PSP), titled Gitaroo Man Lives. Its Japanese title is Gitaroo Man Live (ギタルマンライブ!).
The exceptions to this format are "Void", which is purely Guard phase, and "Legendary Theme (Acoustic)" which is purely Attack phase. These songs, as well as "Overpass/Legendary Theme (Album Version)" are excluded from the multiplayer mode.
Each level typically opens with a Charge phase, in which the player increases their health through playing the Gitaroo. A series of alternating Attack and Guard phases follows, in which the player attempts to drop his opponent's health bar by playing the Gitaroo, and avoids the same by dodging incoming attacks, respectively. If the player survives until the end of the song, then he must complete the Harmony phase to finish the level. The opponent's health bar doesn't so much represent his/her health as it does the progress through the song. If a player does not deal enough damage to an opponent by the end of a segment, that segment will be repeated (with the exception of some levels, most battle phases have two different tunes per segment, that are randomly selected each time a level is played.)
During the Charge, Attack, and Harmony phases, a line called the "trace line" scrolls toward a dot in the center of the screen (the "attack point") from outside of the visible area. There are yellow circles with orange tails on the trace line (called "phrase bars") corresponding to the rhythm of the song. When the beginning of a phrase bar reaches the attack point, the player must follow the direction of the trace line with the analogue stick while simultaneously pressing any face button for the duration of each phase bar.
In the Charge phase, successfully completing a phase bar grants the player a little more health; in Attack phases, completing phase bars drops the opponent's health, while missing them drops a little of the player's health. The Harmony phase acts the same as an Attack phase, but at this point the enemy's health is irrelevant. The magnitude of the gain in health or drop in opponent's health depends on how accurately the player hit the phase bar. Long phase bars can give their effect a second time if the button is released before the end of the bar, the bonus being greater the longer the button is held.
The phase bars tie into the music by fading in Gitaroo Man's guitar track in the song when they are hit, and causing it to fade back out when missed. Thus, the quality of the player's game playing ties in with the quality of Gitaroo Man's guitar playing.
The Guard phase differs in that the player is responsible for pressing one of the four buttons on the controller at the correct time; the analog stick is not used. Corresponding to the layout of these buttons, a triangle scrolls in from the top of the screen, a circle from the right, a square from the left, and an X from the bottom. When these icons hit the aforementioned attack point in the center, usually following the rhythm of the opponent's part of the music, the player must press the corresponding button to avoid losing health.
Most of the game's music uses a call and response pattern in order to allow for alternating Attack and Guard phases, with Gitaroo Man and his rival dominant in each respectively. The Charge and Harmony phases are typical intros and codas, with the rival tending to musically dominate the Charge phase, and Harmony phase led by Gitaroo Man.
Gitaroo Man: The alter ego of U-1 and the last of the legendary heroes of Planet Gitaroo. U-1 transforms into Gitaroo Man whenever he is challenged to a battle. Wields the legendary last Gitaroo. It is said Gitaroo Man will reveal his true form when all eight Gitaroos are one.
Puma: U-1's loyal talking pet dog (see AC-30).
AC-30: The alter ego of Puma. He is responsible for teaching U-1 everything about battling, as well as throwing the Gitaroo guitar to him when a challenge presents itself.
Pico: One of U-1's classmates and the girl of his dreams. She is always with Kazuya to U-1's dismay.
Kazuya: A snobby classmate of U-1 who comes from a rich family. He is great at skateboarding, is a straight-A student, and is U-1's social rival.
Kirah: Kirah is one of the main characters. She is identified as a powerful, if misguided warrior of Gravillians who eventually turns over to Gitaroo Man's side to help him defeat Zowie.
Zowie: The prince of the Gravillians and the antagonist of the storyline. His desire for power has led him to an attempt at collecting the eight legendary Gitaroos (of which he already has seven), which can, together, control the universe.
Panpeus: A devil wearing a black diaper using the Axe Gitaroo. He is the first Gravillian to fight U-1. He warps the reality in U-1's room, but is sucked back into his own portal in the end.
Flying-O: A UFO robot (mistaken as a hamburger) Gravillian that uses a built-in Synth Gitaroo. He uses mind control to control citizens in U-1's city but is blown up soon after.
Mojo King Bee: A Gravillian dressed in a bee and disco suit who plays the Trumpet Gitaroo. He is defeated by sinking into the swamp whose animals he controlled.
Ben-K: A shark that U-1 must escape on the way to planet Gitaroo; he later transforms into Mecha Ben-K, who uses his Turn Table Gitaroos on his pecs to do damage. He is hurtled into space by Gitaroo Man's mecha and explodes.
Sanbone Trio: Three skeletons who use their own bones as Gitaroos. Their names are Pine, Carrot, and Soda. Their pelvic bones are shaped on Dual Shock controllers. The life is sucked out of them when their Gitaroo is taken.
Gregorio Siegfried Wilhelm III: A Gravillian who operates a cathedral as his Gitaroo, located on Planet Gitaroo itself. He is obsessed with his own beauty.
The backup band: A group of musicians dressed in animal suits, who follow U-1 throughout the Cosmos. Their names are Noren (rabbit suit), Yung (monkey suit) and Mr. Yasuda (panda suit). They are almost always seen at one point in every level.
The following songs are exclusive to the PSP remake, Gitaroo Man Lives!, in the Duet mode.
|Gitaroo Man Original Soundtrack tracklist|
| Disc 1 (62:03)|
In 2006, a Gitaroo Man port was released for Sony's PSP console. is a direct port of the PS2 game, but with two new songs that can be played in 'Duet' mode, a newly introduced cooperative mode. The songs are 'Metal Header', a rap/rock track, and 'Toda Pasión', a fast-paced samba number, similar to a Carlos Santana song. The game features Wi-Fi multiplayer and the ability to choose easy or normal difficulty settings, a feature which was only vaguely available in the original PS2 game as the unlockable 'Master's play'.