Did you know Konami can still make good games? It was news to me. A decade ago most of my rhythm gaming was DDR/StepMania on Xbox and Pop’n Music on PS2. IIDX is cool but was never really my game. Konami’s home (CS) releases dried up when the PS2 finally died, and most of my interest dried up with it around 2010 with the release of terrible game after terrible game like DDR X, Pop’n Music Wii, and Rock Revolution. Pop’n continued briefly on PSP with Portable and Portable 2 in the place of ADVENTURE CS and PARTY♪ CS, but what’s the point if you can’t plug a controller into it?
A friend recently rekindled my interest in Bemani with videos of a new series, Sound Voltex.
It hasn't made it to this continent (Nevermind!!) despite being on its third style, but there is a PC simulator called K-Shoot MANIA we can play instead. I got to try it with an arcade-style controller and knew I needed one of my own. C.x.M, VIRGOO, and Gamo2 all manufacture Sound Voltex ASCs with the Dao SVRE9 on the very high end and the cheap C.x.M on the low end. It’s still possible to build your own with four 60mm square buttons, two 45mm rectangular buttons, and two analog encoders, but my time and workshop space are limited these days. I’d rather buy one and be done with it.
I ended up getting a VIRGOO Turbocharger with Sanwa buttons and 0.49N Omron switches. It’s more attractive than the SVSE5, smaller and cheaper than the giant SVRE9, and the shipping is included in the price unlike Gamo2’s expensive EMS.
Sound Voltex’s soundtrack is heavy on Vocaloid and Touhou Project with a few crossover remixes like gentle stress and 遠く and original songs like Crack Traxxxx. The simulator discourages arcade conversions, but I’ve played several anyway since I can’t play the real game here. You can find user-created charts in difficulties way higher than the original game if that’s your thing. In the few weeks I’ve had the controller I’ve cleared lots of level 14 charts and am working my way into 15s. Maybe some day I’ll get my Skill Level ∞ :)