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PSP Review – Patapon

March 8, 2009 Written by Adam Wolfe

patapon

“Pata, Pata, Pata Pon!” your army yells, “Pata, Pata, Pata Pon!” the anticipation grows, “Pata, Pata, Pata Pon!” swords raised arrows ready, “FEVER!” your army attacks, swords swinging, horses charging, arrows flying. You will make them pay. You will have your revenge!

Now you may be asking yourself, “I’ve seen screenshots, I’ve seen the trailers, what can these cute eyeball-looking creatures want with revenge?” You thought “Bright colors, cute characters…this has GOT to be a kid’s game!” I’m here to tell you that beneath the cute graphics and the rhythmic gameplay lies an addictive and surprisingly deep game. Still don’t believe me? Continue reading to see how this can be!

The Patapon were once a thriving civilization that has since been decimated by the Zigoton tribe. You will become the Patapon’s god, and with your drums you will aid them in defeat of their sworn enemies the Zigotons, and ultimately make it to Earthend to look upon “IT’; of which purpose and appearance is unknown.

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The core of Patapon’s gameplay is all in rhythmic button presses. There are set button patterns that you must hit at the right tempo to make your army attack, block, defend, etc…The key to a successful battle is to be able to maintain your tempo while incorporating all the different combos. If done enough times in a row, your army will be sent in to ‘fever’ mode which will have your archers firing more arrows, your horses charging faster and just more overall damage delivered by your army.

Along the many levels of the campaign you will acquire new members to your tribe, six in all, as well as new abilities. These new abilities will cause earthquakes, wind changes and rain, and can only be accessed by being in fever mode. Earning new members and abilities is vital, and helps not only with the increased difficulty of each level, but also the rather large bosses you will come across.

Before each level, you get to visit your base camp, which is where a lot of the depth becomes apparent. You can set three groups to take into battle, which can be a very challenging task since some levels work better with different members. You also can upgrade each member’s armor and weapons by scavenging from the battlefield.

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As well as tend to your army’s needs, you can also create new members. This will require ‘ka-ching’ and raw materials such as meat and rocks that can be acquired by hunting, playing mini-games, and defeating enemies. You can also bring back to life those that may have fallen in battle.  Each Patapon that dies in battle will drop their hat. If you pick their hats up, you can revive those Patapon upon your return to base camp. However, if you happen to miss their hat, they will be lost forever.

The mini-games found in the base camp are very important. Besides giving you more resources, some will give special abilities which can help you cause more damage or take more damage. All of this just adds to the overall RPG quality of of the game.

Upon leaving your base camp, there are 3 different kinds of levels you will encounter. The hunting levels, which allow you to hunt down animals for food, ‘ka-ching’, and raw materials. The basic fighting levels, which will pit your little guys against the Zigoton army. And then there’s the boss battles. The boss battles are some of the more enjoyable levels, as these bosses are massive and can be quite challenging. The best way to prepare for these bosses is to replay the prior hunting and boss levels in order to build up inventory and upgrade your army. Although the boss levels get more and more challenging, they are still a blast to play.

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The overall music and visuals of this game are quite charming. It is near impossible to pick up this game for a few seconds and NOT crack a smile. The chants are mesmerizing, and will have you singing them in your head all day (for better or worse).

Now even though this game is fun, there are some minor faults. First off, when creating new members or outfitting your army, you will find on many occasions that you are missing vital materials. Unfortunately, there is no way of purchasing these. And though you can replay hunting missions, boss fights and mini-games as much as you want, these usually only give raw materials. You can not go through the basic fighting levels where you fight the Zigotons, so whatever equipment you have you are stuck with. It does make you more wary of picking up rare items, but it would have been nice to have a purchase system to lean on, especially for weapons.

One of my other main issues is that there is no pause button. Now this may be seem like a big deal to you, but being in the middle of one of the battles while someone is trying to talk to you can really throw off your rhythm. Although pausing would still throw off your initial rhythm, some of the boards can take 15 to 20 minutes to complete so starting a level means you are in it for the long hall. What would have rectified the pause problem is having a warmup of one music measure (4 beats) before the gameplay resumed.

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Overall, Patapon is such a blast to play. It fits perfectly on the PSP as one of those games you can sit down and play for 15 minutes or two hours. And although there are some minor issues, the sheer depth of the gameplay plus the replay value makes this a must have title for any PSP owner.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score


Art style is immediately charming.

Simple controls, complex gameplay.

Addictive, deep combat system with a musical twist.

9 out of 10