Last Updated on April 22, 2023
If you ask people want kind of games they enjoy with your mates, they will almost certainly respond with games like Mario Party, WarioWare series, etc.
This is understandable since they are very popular party games. But to those who say “Bishi Bashi,” you might get a few head scratches, with people asking “What’s that?”. Because most Bishi Bashi games were released in Japan (with some imported to other countries), the franchise is largely unknown.
As a Bishi Bashi fan, I’m here to tell you what is it about, and why it is one of my favorite series.
Bishi Bashi explained
A Bishi Bashi mini game gameplay starts as follows: you are presented with 3 buttons (red, green and blue in order); the mini game starts with a crazy announcement before the ‘Attention’ word shouts. Instructions follow as to how to play the game and the target score required. Once it commences, you do exactly as it says. After some time, it picks up the pace where you will quickly have to press the buttons.
Once the game ends, the result will show up. Success means advancing to the next stage, while failure means you lose a life before going to the next stage.
Sounds simple right? But that what makes it so fun. This series has so many mini games and such varied gamplay. At one point, you have to choose the largest number on the dice in quick time. Next you have to quickly press the buttons in order to achieve something. Plus mashing the buttons can really hurt your hands. This, along with many funny and beloved characters appearing over the series, makes this Konami series a joy to play with your friends and family. Konami may have stumbled of late but they never failed to entertain the gamers with this series.
Below are my favorite Bishi Bashi games (including an honourable mention) and why I love them so much till this day.
1. Gachaga Champ
Gachaga Champ is one of the many Bishi Bashi releases that were released in 1999 along with Hyper Bishi Bashi, Step Champ and Hyper Bishi Bashi Champ. This game uses two joysticks for each player instead of buttons.
Player 1 is the woman name Gachami and Player 2 is the male character, Gachahiko. They compete on many mini-games. Not only that, you can even try to run past each other as they go from one stage to the next. While not the first game of the series, it is THE first Bishi Bashi game that I encountered.
Because of that, I had thought that joysticks were needed to play the game, until I later discovered that this and two other games (Handle Champ and Step Champ) use different controllers. Even so, me and my friend really enjoyed playing this game, occasionally thinking we’d broke the joysticks as some mini-games need fast reflexes.
This was the very game that started my love on the series.
2. Great Bishi Bashi Champ
Released in 2002, this game has more characters to choose from and more mini games to play.
Now you can enjoy the game with your mates with the original 3 buttons each in different color. I remember playing this for hours, to the point that I was almost addicted, but it couldn’t be helped when the game is so good and colourful.
Arcades in the west were pretty much dead by then so it was really nice to see games like this appearing occasionally. Seeing this really amazes me about the arcade culture that was and still is strong in Japan. The only bummer is that the two characters from Gachaga Champ aren’t playable in this game but they do appear in a mini-game and sometimes pop up as cameos.
Even so, this Bishi Bashi game was absolutely enjoyable and cemented my love for this series. It’s rare to find this unit these days but if you do somehow find it, spend some time on Great Bishi Bashi Champ.
4 years after the Bishi Bashi Champ online, the series returned in 2009 with The★BishiBashi. The characters return with a new 3D model design but the gameplay art remains 2D and as colourful and joyful as ever.
The 3 common buttons have returned but now a yellow button has been added, which is necessary to finish the mini-game and to score additional points if successful. I remember when I saw the game’s intro music, and was so hooked by the attract mode that I immediately started playing and I really enjoyed it. The game still has the Japanese wackiness that it has on the previous games.
The only 2 down sides of this game are: it only has 25-27 mini games (too short in my opinion), and the multiplayer overhaul changes things.
Instead of trying to eliminate opponents, The★BishiBashi requires you to complete the mini-games as a team and if one fails, all players suffer. Sometimes one can progress, depending on the score. Despite those issues, I enjoyed this 3 player mini-games party.
I first discovered this in Sydney, Australia at a gaming centre so you can’t imagine my joy when I first saw the arcade cabinet.
4. Honourable Mention: BishiBashi Channel
This game was released in 2018, 9 years after The★BishiBashi and while I really enjoyed the game, it has some key changes. You can now play with up to 4 players and the green button is now a rotating button
I preferred The★BishiBashi over this is because all the characters that were part of the past Bishi Bashi games are all gone, save a certain bunny girl character. This was a big ‘oof’ moment for me as it kinda takes away the charm of the game. While I like the new characters, I do wish that some past characters could appear.
The multiplayer plays the same as The★BishiBashi. For that, I leave it as an honourable mention. Like The★BishiBashi, I also first encountered it in Sydney.
5. Bishi Bashi Special (PS1 Euro Version)
So far Bishi Bashi has seen some console releases, all on PS1. Upon all releases, this one is far my favorite.
In this European version, you get the combined version of the Bishi Bashi Special 1 and 2 (both in Japanese version) and renamed as Super and Hyper Bishi Bashi. This includes the many mini games from the arcades like Gachaga Champ, Handle Champ, etc.
Not only that, it is wholly translated into English so people who struggle to understand the Japanese version should play this game. Both games in one package means double the fun, and with so many mini games to play, family and friends will never bore of it
You won’t get the button mashing buttons that you would get on the arcades. Luckily, this version will definitely show you how to play various mini-games with the PS1 buttons. This game is a must play.
Bishi Bashi is awesome!
Despite Japan-only releases for most Bishi Bashi games (aside from a few local exports), I think the fact that these game cabinets feature visual instructions is key to their enduring popularity.
Simple mechanics, colourful characters, a wide variety of mini-games, and great music also play a big part, of course. My only wish is for Konami to release a new Bishi Bashi game since it has been years since Bishi Bashi Channel was released. Don’t be too deterred though, as the series has enough entries for you all to enjoy with your mates.
So what are you waiting for? Get your hands ready, insert the coin and go BISH BASH!