bitparade: Patapon (PSP)

Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon! Get used to that phrase as its going to be stuck in your head for a long long time, however, its one of those things that you just won’t give a damn about and find yourself smiling at when it does manage to randomly rise to the surface as you make your way to the bus stop or some other activity that requires walking.

This is because Patapon, the latest game from LocoRoco developers Pyramid is just as charming and addictive as LocoRoco was.

The game takes the same 2D visual styling that everybody grew to love from LocoRoco, but the palette changes this time around. Instead of larger than life primary colours, everything in Patapon is more of a silhouette which seems to fit in well with the games themes of a minority struggling back to their former power.

The game plays out in a strange rhythm-action, real-time strategy hybrid. In effect you tap out different rhythm’s on the PSP’s face buttons in order to command your troops to do certain actions, whether its walk forwards, attack, defend or one of a few others. As you tap out these commands, you chain them together in a combo until you eventually reach “Fever” mode which makes your attacks stronger. However, it is Fever mode that causes the most problems with the game as your Patapon tribe begin to shout out random noises which leads to distraction and you losing your rhythm, lose your rhythm and you lose Fever mode, starting you back off with the need to re-fill your combo. This also affects other things, such as the ability to summon miracles using the Don drum (placed on the X button) as you need to be in fever mode to do this, adding some difficulty to the game, thats not saying, however, that the game is easy, as it really isn’t.

Theres no way to describe what makes Patapon so difficult, other than by saying the game can be incredibly vague at times. Early on in the game your required to find and discover a rain miracle and the Don drum as you need both to progress across a red hot desert. You’re not informed as to the location of either, meaning you find yourself randomly marching across the locations you’ve already traversed searching for anything that may give a clue, its only when you notice a totem-pole at the start of the first area and tap out the markings on it, causing it to rise a little that you believe you may have discovered something, keep doing this and your eventually rewarded with one of the two parts that are needed, and also opens up the area you can find the second part. Now I’m not one who likes their hand being held throughout a game, but Pyramid have made this particular part of the game unnecessarily vague and therefore difficult and frustrating, especially for a moment that is so early in the game.

Yet despite this, somehow you find yourself drawn back to the game time and again to try and discover the secret to this particular bit so you can move on and absorb more of the charm that Patapon has to offer.

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