Pop'n Music series for the PS2, PS1, Dreamcast, and others
Today's game is called Pop'n Music. It's a series that has a total of 20 versions in the arcade (1 through 17, plus Animelo, Animelo 2, and Mickey Tunes). Home versions have been released for Animelo, Mickey Tunes, and versions 1 through 14, plus a Best Hits version. Versions 7 and newer are on the PS2, the preferred console for these games.
This is a rhythm game (like Guitar Hero or DDR), except that it is played by hitting 9 big, round buttons with the palms of your hands, assuming you use the Arcade Style Controller (ASC) instead of the smaller Pop'n Mini controller (both shown below).
(Custom made ASC; image pulled from http://edointokyo.com/?p=21)
The interesting thing in Pop'n Music (and in many other Japanese-only rhythm games) is that pressing a button always makes a sound that is in the song. Pressing the wrong button will make it play the song incorrectly, while pressing the correct button too late or too early will make the correct note play too late or too early, respectively.
Also, Japanese rhythm games tend to be harder than American ones. Example:
Don't let that scare you away, though! The songs don't start off nearly that hard. Here is one that's still a little harder than the beginning songs:
As you can see, it essentially amounts to musical Whack-a-Mole! It is truly great fun, although it is admittedly expensive to get the full size controller.
More information about the Pop'n Music series can be found by clicking HERE
The most recent version of the game can be purchased HERE
The official arcade style controller is hard to find and generally costs around $500. You can check eBay for it. The official Pop'n Mini controller will generally cost you around $50, but again, it's a little hard to find. An excellent alternative to purchasing the official ASC is to purchase a home-built one from www.desktoparcade.com, or other similar places. You might be able to find one of those on eBay as well.
Have fun playing!