Patapon Remastered Review – Fever! (PS4)
Patapon was a refreshing hit when it launched on the PlayStation Portable in 2008. It’s unique blend of rhythm-strategy ended up being the second-best reviewed game for the platform that year. Almost a decade later, the game has been remastered for PlayStation 4. Has time been kind to the adorable Patapon warriors?
Since Patapon was originally designed with the PSP in mind, its native assets would definitely not scale very well to the 1080p output of the standard PS4, and especially not to the 4K resolution offered by the PS4 Pro. Japan Studio and Sony Worldwide Studios appear to have completely redone all of the game’s assets. In 4K resolution, for example, I could not see any aliasing at all. Patapon used simple assets, and naturally the console has no trouble keeping the game running without any stuttering. The Patapon have never looked better!
Patapon’s audio would likely also have suffered in a straight transition to the home console format, since the PSP was such a technically limited platform compared to the PS4. Thankfully, most audio samples sound are of a high quality. Each of the four drums were crisp, and fun to use. The Patapon sound as adorable as ever, with high-pitched and highly-filtered voices which border on the annoyingly-cute level of timbre.
Same Game, Just Prettier
Gameplay remains the same as in the original. I played as the Almighty Patapon, tasked with helping the Patapon to thrive in their tribal world by beating four drums in rhythm. Patapon, for the uninitiated, is a refreshing mixture of rhythm and turn-based strategy – as I issue each four-beat command, I then must wait a full measure as the Patapon repeat my command in song while they also execute the command. This turn-based nature becomes much more important against boss levels. As bosses attack, I have to decide if now is the time to execute a Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon, which is a straight attack using all of my deployed units while dropping their defense down, or a Chaka-Chaka-Pata-Pon, which is a move focused on defense, while also performing a lighter attack on the boss character. The enemy can also occasionally move further away from us, and so I will have to issue the Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon command to move my units forward.
Then there’s also fever mode. By keeping my rhythm up for a certain number of measures (a variable amount that hovered near 10), the Patapon would enter fever mode, causing more damage and blocking more attacks than when in their regular attack mode. This is used a little later in the campaign, for producing Miracles. For instance, in some missions, the temperatures can reach soaring highs – enough to set my Patapons on fire! But by using something called a Rain Juju, I was able to summon the miracle of rain by first entering into fever mode, then using my Don drum (the cross button): Don-DonDon-DonDon. This would start the special dance that reversed the role a bit – the Patapon would recite a handful of rhythms, which I would have to repeat back. If we were successful in this back-and-forth, we would return to the game world. While fever mode would be expended, it would start raining. Rain would help to cool the hot world and not kill my Patapon, but it could also be used in hunting levels and allow me to get my Patapon closer to wildlife before going in for the kill.
Some Tough Warriors
The original Patapon was never an easy game – I remember having to replay missions several times back in the day in order to pass a level. This same difficulty level is present in the remake. This will no doubt frustrate some gamers who aren’t used to higher skills being required to complete even some of the game’s earlier levels.
So if gameplay has remained the same, what, exactly, is different? Well, sadly, there are no real modern additions to Patapon Remastered. For instance, at the end of each successful run through a mission, a stats screen was shown to me. This would tell me how many (if any) caps of Patapons I lost or found, any spoils I picked up from the battlefield, and level clear time. Something as simple as an online leaderboard, to see who could complete a level in the shortest amount of time, would have been great to see, and feels like a missed opportunity.
Patapon Remastered is a worthy remastering of a classic game that deserves to be checked out. If you can’t take an intense difficulty curve, however, you may find yourself frustrated at a lack of progress early in on the campaign. Sticking with it, and getting used to Patapon’s many mechanics being used, however, will likely result in a slow but steady mastering of all your drums. A lack of modern features, such as even simple leaderboards for each level, feels like a missed opportunity, but most fans of the series will be happy just to see a return of the beloved Patapon, and at a reasonable price of $14.99 ($11.99 for PS+ members) to boot.
Patapon Remastered PS4 review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.