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Old 12-29-2009, 03:44 PM   #160
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,005

Sony PlayStation Portable
1 Player
Developer - Pyramid, Japan Studio
Publisher - Sony

My Bias
-I like Rhythm games
-I am drawn to cute games

My Completion
-Main story beaten

The story of Patapon is ridiculously lighthearted. I mean sure the little Patapons take it seriously and are brutally slaughtering things, but they do it while singing cute little songs. The Patapons are on a mission to see “IT” and will not stop until they finally do. They constantly break the Fourth Wall by talking to you as the almighty God that controls them. It’s up to you as their ruler to guide them with music

Along the way the Patapons run into the opposing army of the Zigotons. The Zigotons fear that “IT” should not be uncovered and try to stand in the Patapons way, so the two armies are constantly clashing. Eventually the Zigotons pray to the dark forces and sell their souls to defeat the Patapons. The story never takes itself too seriously which seems fitting for a game about singing eyeball creatures.

The Zigatons are obviously evil because they have red eyes

It sounds strange but throughout the game I actually cared about the little guys. They have somewhat adorable voices and little movements that they do while fighting. When one of my Patapons would get killed I would feel bad.

The ending is really disappointing and funny enough; the Patapons think it is disappointing too. So unsatisfied they embark on a journey across the sea to find the real “IT” and that is the premise for Patapon 2

Patapon has a very unique style to it. Everything in the game is minimalist and yet has a good sized resolution which gives the whole game a very modern look. All of the units in the game including your Patapons, the Zigotons and Creatures are all done in pure black which looks really nice over the colorful gradient backdrops. You can tell this game is made by the same developer that gave us the LocoRoco series because they have the same look. Almost like a really complex web game in Adobe Flash.

This worm boss is one of the easiest

Everything runs smoothly and looks awesome once a lot is going on. Sometimes there can be too much going on and it’s hard to see what is happening to your army. This only happened a couple of times though so it wasn’t that big a deal.

The music of Patapon is entirely dependant on the beats you produce in battle. There is a simple pattern that follows you giving a 4 beat drum command, and then your Patapons sing that beat. Once you start to get a combo going and achieve Fever mode the Patapons will stop repeating your beats so much and start singing their own little tunes.

The music is all very Tribal sounding thanks to the drum beats and sometimes gets a little obnoxious. It’s a little weird playing a rhythm game without catchy compelling music, but Patapon just works. Because the music is like this I can’t post a few tracks from the game like usual.

The last battle has a really cool theme which is made even more awesome when the Patapons start singing along to it. The rest of the game should have had cool themes like this because it was the first and only time I actually felt fueled by the music.

In Patapon you are some sort of music playing God that directs the Patapon army in battle with drum beats. The Patapons march from left to right on a 2D plane and fight anything in their path. The commands you give them are simple things such as Walk, Defend and Attack and later in the game you start learning more advanced moves like Retreat and Miracle. However you can only issue these commands along with the 4 beat rhythm of the game. This forces you to think ahead and plan your movements out in advance because you can’t instantly order your army. If you can keep the beat going without any hiccups, your Patapon will enter Fever Mode, which more than triples their attack power. A majority of the game requires you to be in constant fever status if you want to pull through. The only other way to enter fever is to perfectly time your 4 beats, and I italicize perfectly for good reason because the timing is picky as hell.

So to attack these evil Zigoton you play PON PON PATA PON

This premise for gameplay is part of what frustrates me about this game. It seems like there is an art to controlling the Patapons that I never was able to grasp. I did well enough to beat the game but there were many instances I found myself yelling at my Patapons “no you idiots, don’t run back into the fire!” I’ve read the secret to this game is to learn how to break your rhythm and issue commands out of sequence. This would of course ruin your fever status so unless you’re amazing at pulling off perfect beats, it will most likely do more damage than good.

There are a few different classes of Patapons as well as different varieties of those classes. Because I never could remember the weird naming conventions this game uses, the classes consist of Melee, Spear Throwers, Archers, Horse Riders, Ogres and Music Players. You can only take 3 different kinds of Patapon into battle at one time so it offers a little bit of strategy. I didn’t find this customization to be put into practice very well however because Melee, Spear, Archer worked the best for 95% of the entire game.

To grow your army you can make more Patapons by combining the materials you find on missions. Certain combinations will make different shaped Patapons with higher stats. I’m not sure if there is a structure to this combining system, if there is I was never able to figure it out. The game certainly doesn’t give you any sort of guidance and so you are left to experiment with the limited materials you acquire. It comes down to 3 options: Grind missions over and over for more materials to experiment with, constantly reset your game, or consult a guide. Since the first two options were not fun and time consuming, I had to find a guide.

There are parts of this game that get very hard. No matter how good you are your Patapons are always going to take hits. This means that if your defense or attack is not high enough then certain battles will simply wear you down. There were a few missions I played where this exact thing happened, I played perfectly avoiding/blocking/attacking at all the opportune times and I simply couldn’t wear down the enemy before my army died of small block damage.

It is SOOO much fun when this guy launches his unblockable bite attack that perma-kills one of your units

Which brings me to my next issue, equipment is hard to find. Patapons do not level up or anything so the only way to make them stronger is to find better equipment for them. Getting good pieces of equipment to drop from enemies is random and sometimes takes a long time. I found myself constantly playing the same stages over and over looking for equipment and materials. What makes this even worse is that every time you play a Boss stage to find good equipment, that boss levels up. This puts you in situations where the Boss can eventually get too strong to defeat and can no longer be farmed for items. I luckily never ran into this because I consulted and learned to reset the game if I defeated a boss and didn’t get a good drop, but I can easily see how a player could ruin their save file.

Despite my frustrations with this game, there were instances that I really got into “the zone” and had a great time. I was really feeling the music, my attacks were all happening at just the right times, and I totally decimated the enemy. I would say buying Patapon is worth it for these moments alone. I only wish that they happened more often than they did.

Get into Fever Mode, start slamming on a boss, and it's good fun

I generally don’t knock a game for the platform it’s on, but Patapon really suffers from being a portable game. You absolutely need to hear the music and I found when playing in public (school, work, ect) it’s too hard to hear unless you block out the world with headphones like some anti-social high school kid. I ran into so many instances where I would be out in public wanting to play and couldn’t. The game does flash a white border around the screen as you play, but without the music it does little to help keep the rhythm. I asked myself the question several times “If the only time I can play this game is when it’s quiet at home, why is it on a portable?”

Lasting Appeal
Patapon lasted me 15 hours according to my save file. However I know my actual play time was more than this because I had to reset the game so many times. 15 hours may not seem like a lot to some but remember this is a rhythm game with stages that only last a few minutes.

After you complete the game you can go back and continually fight the bosses to build an even stronger army. I had absolutely no interest in doing this but you could make quite a powerful army if you keep going. I’ve read that it’s possible to get the bosses so strong that they are impossible to defeat even with the strongest possible army.

Final Thoughts
This is a really interesting way to make a rhythm game. Like I said above, when the game has it’s moments it becomes really fun. It may sound like I have a lot of complaints but I enjoyed Patapon. I recommend it if you own a PSP and like rhythm games.

There are a lot of people who swear this is one of the best games on the PSP but I definitely was not feeling it like they have. Maybe I played it wrong, maybe I just don’t “get it”, who knows. I did like it enough to purchase the sequel so take that for what it’s worth.
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