Review: Patapon

Review: Patapon
Review: Patapon

What would you get if you took LocoRoco, The Lost Vikings, Dance Dance Revolution, and a real-time strategy? Well, obviously we'd have some mess and a bit of confusion but we would also get Patapon, a new game for the PlayStation Portable.

Created by the same team that brought you the colourful LocoRoco, Patapon sets you up as a God among Gods. You know you're a God but now the tribes of Patapon need you so you will command them.

The first thing you'll notice about Patapon is the quirky art style it's adopted. It's so unusual that there really isn't anything like it. It's cute and strange and very cool and while it's not the most graphically brilliant game as it takes place in an almost entirely two-dimensional world, it still has a style of its own. From the crisp colours and broad strokes in the worlds and characters, you'll know you've found something truly brilliant the moment you start taking in the world upon your trip to Earthend.

The sound is the next thing you'll notice and it's pivotal for playing Patapon. Following a simple rhythmic structure, there isn't really a soundtrack that's distinctive and different from how you play the game. In essence, you are playing the soundtrack and while you could argue that games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution already do this, not to the same extent as Patapon.

In current rhythm-based games, you're hitting buttons to the music. Patapon changes this by making your buttons mashing the music itself. Where the rhythm game formula changes in Patapon is that instead of just making music, your rhythms will make your followers perform various actions like attacking, praying for rain, and marching forward. So when you stop making the music, your little men and women stop trying to beat the crap out of their enemy. This means that to win all the battles, you're going to be playing a lot of drums.

In Patapon, you'll have to hunt for food and take on evil and unusual but brilliantly stylised monsters to get your followers to the end of the Earth. To get them to do this you'll be playing drums in various orders but one of the issues with this game is that it can get a little boring to do in one sitting. As a result, Patapon is one of those games that is probably best played over time. If you sit there and really hammer out the levels one by one only to find a dragon breathes fire and kills your crew almost instantly, you're likely to bludgeon something with your PSP.

That's one of the problems with Patapon: while it's insane and ridiculous while still being fun, it begins to lose its addictive properties somewhat early into the game when your little men are constantly being gobbled up and you find that you need to play the repetitive hunts over and over again to make more men. It's not hard to get back into it and the loading screens will provide tips to help you make it through, but that doesn't stop it from getting a little tedious.

It also needs a pause button. Short of turning your PSP off, you can't actually pause the game (or you couldn't in the copy I was playing). They just continued on in the background so it really is one of those games that if you're going to play, make sure you're all there otherwise you're going to lose the rhythm and get eaten.

It should be noted though that Patapon is one of the better games to see the light of day on the PlayStation Portable. It's strange because it's not the sort of title you'd expect on a Sony system but rather that of a Nintendo DS. It's a blend of the bizarre and quirky while still being insanely brilliant. As a result, Patapon is so brilliantly addictive that you won't be able to get Pata-pata-pata-pon out of your head anytime soon.

Should you buy it?: Yes. Undeniably yes. One of the best PlayStation Portable games I've ever played and a brilliant mix of genres.

Developer: Interlink / Sony Computer Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Classification: G
Formats: PlayStation Portable
URL: Patapon

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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