Sony Computer Entertainment Patapon
- Team mates have quirky characteristics, minimalist control scheme and captivating essence
- If you're rhythmically challenged you may find this hard to play!
Patapon is based on controlling your team of warriors through rhythm. It's a strange and unusual game, but lots of fun to play.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
A funky visual vibe mashed up with a unique, rhythm based control scheme equals a bona fide hit for the PSP. From the creators of the happy-go-lucky Locoroco comes another charming title, Patapon!
LocoRoco's bright and sunny outlook hit the PSP like a ton of Nerf bricks, and drilled home the point that you don't have to be constantly mashing buttons to have fun. The creators have since moved on from what's been called the world's happiest game and developed Patapon, a unique and charming game that takes its minimalist control scheme and captivating essence in a much more combative direction.
The Patapons are a tribe of two-dimensional warriors on their way to Earthend, but all manner of enemies and obstacles lie between them and their goal, and only their deity that would be you can lead them to their destiny. The basic setup might seem broad and familiar, but the execution of it is anything but, and your first clue to Patapon's unique nature is its eye-catching art direction. The three spear-throwers you start with are just hollow circles on legs, with a single inky dot for an eye rolling around the interior, and yet they're filled with personality, from the way they twirl their weapons in the air to the fierce expressions they don when they enter combat.
The word "idiosyncratic" doesn't begin to cover it. From the ever-changing palette of the landscapes you'll traverse to battles with fire-breathing bosses and rival Zigoton forces, Patapon bursts with shadow puppetry theatrics and visual charm. Screenshots can give you a good feeling for the character designs and scenery, but to see the whole affair in motion is a minor revelation, like a child prodigy's drawing come to life, brimming with imagination. This display of inspired aesthetics might not do much to tax the hardware, but no other game looks anything like it.
Human Beat Box
Mind you, you don't so much command these quirky abstract misfits as guide them. Your control over this crew is strictly indirect, relying entirely on their shared love of diverse music. Rather than fiddle with the directional pad or analogue nub to manoeuvre them around, or issue orders to individual soldiers like a traditional real-time strategy general, you rally your entire crew by drumming out four-beat tattoos on the drums you acquire over the first few hours, and listen to their enthusiastic performance while mulling over your next move. Each drum makes a unique sound pon, pata, chaka, and don and you string them together into short songs that tell the troops to attack, defend, march, and so on.
Though the tempo is forever constant, the music becomes more and more elaborate as your forces get into the groove, simultaneously helping you with staccato chants and hindering you with off-beat embellishments and free-form vocal breaks. How well you stay on the beat determines the quality of sound you get from each drum hit, which in turn influences the strength of your squad's actions. Scoring successive combos can mean the difference between your troops tossing out a handful of ineffectual arrows versus a powerful shower of pointy death.
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