PSP Review – Patapon 2
Patapon 2 has finally made it to the US, and marks the first UMD-less retail game for the PSP (i.e. download only). We at PSLS are very happy to see this and judging from our review of the first game we are big fans. Patapon was a cute, fun, and deep game that took us by surprise. So can Patapon 2 improve upon the original’s solid formula?
The story starts where the first one ends. The Patapons are sailing to Earthend, and the perils end up being far greater than expected. For 59 days and 59 nights they fight on until they cannot continue, and their ship sinks.
When they are washed up on shore, Hatapon is the only Patapon that has hope for the Great One’s return. Hanging onto the sacred drum, he is hoping for a miracle. Suddenly, the darkness fades and there is a drum beat; the Great One has returned. Once Hatapon knows of your return, he rises to his feet and raises his flag. And with your command, he moves forward in search of Meden, the Patapon princess, and any other surviving Patapon.
Once rescued, Meden asks if you can lead them to Earthend so that they can gaze upon “IT”, a sacred object whose appearance and purpose is unknown to the tribe. Though it will be tough, the Patapon have tremendous heart and courage, and will fight through anything. You will lead them through scorching deserts and frigid blizzards. The Patapon will face new enemies as well as old, some of which tower over the Patapon. You also will come into contact with a new masked enemy, the Karmen, who are far fiercer then the Zigotons. As the Great One, it is up to you to see them through this epic journey.
The gameplay is pretty much what you have come to expect from the original Patapon. You control an army of Patapon with different rhythms. Each command has four beats which are assigned to the face buttons. You will command your Patapon to do everything from advance and attack to jump and defend, as well as a few other moves. After four or five successful rhythms in a row, the Patapon will go into Fever mode. This sends them into a frenzy, shooting arrows and delivering more deadly attacks. All of these different beats are crucial to securing the Patapon a successful journey.
Your main base of operation is Patapolis, and from here you can create new Patapons, as well as upgrade existing Patapons. There is an altar where you can check your inventory, a map to find your next battle, and also some mini games that you can play to gather some much needed resources.
All of the mini games are locked at the beginning of the game, but throughout each mission you will occasionally come across the cap of a Patapon that controls a particular mini game. Each of these mini games are crucial since they aid you in completing each mission. These mini games may give you supplies to help create or upgrade your army, or boost your hit points and attacks.
Another resource at Patapolis is the character creation area. This time around, there are three new units, making for a total of nine different units: the Yaripons, Tatepons, Yumipon, Dekapons, Kibapons, Megapon, Toripon, Robopon, and Mahopo, each of whom has different abilities and weapons. Some are useful for long range attacks, while others are for close encounters. And since you can only take three units into battle, this really does make for some interesting fighting options.
The big addition to this game is the evolutionary tree. From here you can really get into some details with each Patapon. Basically from this area you select a Patapon once selected you can either level him up which will increase is Hit Points, or advance him within each unit. There are multiple classes within each unit and as you progress new ones become available. What these new classes offer are some new abilities; maybe you want a Patapon that is speedier and resistant to ice, but he is bad against fire. Or maybe you want a stronger Patapon, but he falls asleep easily. The possibilities are relatively endless and even though it sounds confusing it really is not bad, and it helps to add even more depth to this wonderful game.
Most of your game play will be held on the battlefield, and you will encounter three different battle areas. There are the hunting grounds where you gather resources, the battlefield where you fight enemies and make your way through forts, and the boss battles which pit the mighty Patapon against giant creatures. These are some of the more entertaining battles which will challenge all of your skills as a leader.
Upon completion of each of these levels, you’ll be granted with the ability to play through them again multiple times. The multiple play rounds really are the key to how successful your journey will be. The hunting grounds can give you much needed resources and Ka-ching, which is used to upgrade characters. Boss battles, which increase in difficulty with each playthrough, will usually give you some of the more rare items. Also new to this game is the ability to play through training grounds and fort battles. These are usually harder versions of levels you have already played through. These levels are usually some of the more valuable ones, since they usually will supply you with multiple weapon upgrades.
Before each battle, you can select three units to take with you. Within each unit, you can select each individual Patapon’s helm and weapon. You also can add JUJU, which are magical spells the Patapon can conjure up, like rain and snow. You will need to be in Fever mode to deploy these, but abilities like rain are pretty invaluable since they can stop lightning and sandstorms, as well as put out fires.
In addition to the three units that you take into battle, new to Patapon 2 is the hero. He is the chosen one whom you rescue along the way, and his skills are much needed. Once he charges up, his special abilities are quite devastating. He is always selected to go into battle, but by pressing triangle you can pull up a menu before you go into battle, and then square you can change the heroes class. Each class has their own special ability, and each one is as effective as the last.
The replay value for this game is extremely high as well. You could play through this game a dozen time, and still not have the same experience. It is very easy to miss items as you play through the game. During my first playthrough, I only unlocked six units and three mini games. It all depends on what the levels give you, and how you use them.
The audio work is just as good as the first one. Each song is enchanting and will bring a smile to your face. The visuals are also just as stylish and impressive as the first one. The colors and depictions of each Patapon are cute and fierce at the same time. To cheer on a bunch of little round guys with spears and arrows is pretty fun.
As far as negatives go, there are only a couple. You still cannot buy resources that are needed. I had a very hard time leveling up one unit because no matter how many times I went through the levels or mini-games, I just could not find any ore. I know this is supposed to add to the depth, but it can get a little frustrating.
Another negative is although this is an entirely new game some areas still felt recycled. There are a couple new bosses, but you end up fighting all the same bosses from the first one. The missions also seem somewhat identical to the first one even though you are in new environments. It still is a wonderful game, but it just seemed like it was lacking a couple new missions.
Patapon 2 is the first game that does not come on a UMD. It is download only, though the retail box does come with a voucher. The advantage is that you’ll never have to lug around a UMD to play this title. But at just under 400 MB, this game will take up a pretty big chunk of space on your Memory Stick. That said, it was definitely the right direction to go, and it’ll be interesting to see how far Sony takes this business strategy.
Overall, Patapon 2 is just as good, if not better, than the first one. It still has all the fun and epic battles from the first outing, but with even more depth and energy. New bosses and new features really help improve an already stellar game. This game really is a must own, regardless of whether you’ve played the first one.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Each playthrough is unique, enhancing the replay value.
An innovative experience, and one of the best strategy titles available.