Quantcast
Patapon for PlayStation Portable
×

America - Front

America - Back

Review Scores

VGChartz Score
8.5
                         

Ratings

     

Alternative Names

パタポン

Developer

Pyramid/JAPAN Studio

Genre

Platform

Other Versions

PSN

Release Dates

02/26/08 Sony Computer Entertainment
12/20/07 Sony Computer Entertainment
02/22/08 Sony Computer Entertainment

Community Stats

Owners: 232
Favorite: 6
Tracked: 3
Wishlist: 7
Now Playing: 4
 
7.9

Avg Community Rating:

 

Review: Patapon

By zexen_lowe 16th Aug 2009 | 1,936 views 

The drums will shake the castle wall…

It’s hard to find a quirkier game than Patapon. Impossible to categorize in genre, as it’s in equal parts rhythm, role-playing game, strategy and 2D scrolling action; with an art direction unlike anything I have seen before and some catchy music that has stuck with me since I saw the trailers, I knew beforehand that the experience I’d find in it would be unlike any other. And, for sure, I wasn’t wrong.

In this game, you’re the Mighty Patapon (essentially, a god), revered by all the Patapons, which can only be described as a race of eyeballs with black limbs. Their ultimate goal is to reach a place called Earthend, to see 'IT'. Yes, that’s right, IT. Who doesn’t want to see IT? And so, as their almighty god, your task is to guide the Patapons through all sorts of hardships until they reach their objective. This includes the Patapon’s arch enemies, called Zigotons, who have the same objective as you and look the same, except they’re red. The story of the struggle between Patapons and Zigotons, while not anything surprising and definitely not the focus of the game, does a good job in keeping things together, and includes some memorable scenes with the Patapon’s priestess, Meden, who’s the (rather useless) leader of the tribe. Also, you’ll want to find out what the 'IT' is that the Patapons want so much to see.

When playing, you’ll find yourself on a 2D screen with your forces in the leftmost, and your objective is to traverse the stage and reach a strange-looking building that ends the mission. Sound simple? It isn’t. You cannot directly move your Patapons. Instead, you give them commands with “songs”, and that tells them what to do. For example, you start with an “advance” song and an “attack” song, and you’ll get more as you progress through the game, like “retreat” and “defend”. To execute these songs, you have to hit the face buttons. Each of them corresponds to a certain drum - Triangle is CHAKA, Square is PATA, Circle is PON and X is DON, and every song has a certain combination. For instance, the “advance” song is PATA-PATA-PATA-PON, and thus to give that command you have to press Square-Square-Square-Circle. But you can’t do this at your leisure, there’s a beat that can be heard in the background, and you have to strike the drums according to that beat. Furthermore, after you execute a song, the Patapons perform it by repeating the chant. So, after you perform a four beat song (every song has four beats - which equates to four button presses - except a special one) you have to wait four more beats while your army does what it was told, and only after that can you issue a new command, and so on.


It’s important to keep on the beat, because if you chain successful commands together you’ll trigger a combo. Moreover, a 10 point combo will put you in Fever mode. In Fever mode it’s harder to keep the combo going as you’ll need very timely button presses (and any missed one will put you out of Fever), but all of your Patapons are much stronger than normal. Furthermore, Fever is the only mode where you can cast the “miracle” song, where you will perform the miracle you have equipped. You might make it rain (necessary to cross a desert that burns your forces), generate strong winds (that make your arrows fly further and prevents enemies’ from reaching you), and more. The issue with this is that they’re cast with a five beat song and I never managed to get the tempo right. Furthermore, given that when you don’t time it right it drops you out of fever mode, miracles can be more than annoying, and I personally only used them where necessary (and even then they still caused me quite a lot of frustration). Still, miracles notwithstanding, rhythm elements inserted into a strategy game is both innovative and exciting, and while you may feel that repeating the same button combinations all the time may become repetitive, that’s not the case here; Patapon manages to be as engaging at the end as it was when you first started.

Your army is composed of three different types of units, plus the Hatapon (that’s the leader and he basically does nothing, but you lose if he’s killed), and for each type you can hold three or six soldiers (depending on the unit category). There are six different units in the game, including Infantry (called Tatepon), Lancers (Yaripon), Archers (Yumipon), and more that you will unlock during the course of the game. While the game offers you the choice to use any of the units you’ve unlocked, I always found myself more comfortable with the three basic ones (Tatepons, Yaripons and Yumipons), as the others are either too complicated to use or too expensive to buy.


Patapon is broken down in stages, and there are three types of them: hunting stages, Zigoton battles and boss battles. In hunting, you’ll simply traverse the field trying to kill wild animals that are pasturing and will run as soon as you get close to them. If you manage to kill them you’ll get meat, cash (called ka-ching) and occasionally an item. You can replay hunting missions as many times as you like, and you’ll do it often because they’re the best source of the ka-ching that you need to create new units. In Zigoton battles, you’ll have to face a Zigoton army in varying situations (assaulting a fortress, trying to save Meden who was kidnapped, and so on). These missions are often the hardest in the game, and the ones I got constantly stuck on. One thing to criticize is that you can’t replay these missions once you’ve beaten them, something I really would have appreciated since they’re the best (and almost the only) source of equipment for your Patapons. In Boss Battles, you have to beat an oversized beast. These are the most fun since they’re the ones that force you to vary your strategy the most.

Whilst in Zigoton battles you’ll mostly advance and attack, and in the end it’ll boil down to whether you’ve got the better equipment, units and if you can keep Fever for some time, in boss battles you have to react according to what your enemy does. Bosses have a set number of attacks (usually three or four) of varying effect and damage, and each of those has a different animation that precedes it. It’s up to you to recognize the attack the boss is going to execute and react accordingly. For example, if he’s about to perform a close range attack you’ll want to do the Retreat song, but if his attack hits the entire screen the Defend song would be more effective in reducing the amount of damage sustained. Of course, this means that the boss battles involve a lot of trial-and-error, but they’re the missions I enjoyed the most in the game by a long shot, and there’s nothing more satisfying than beating a boss that’s 10 times your size. You can replay boss battles as many times as you like, they’re a good source for rare items you’ll need to create Patapons, and every time you beat it the boss “levels up” and becomes harder to beat the next time.

When you’re not battling you can create new Patapons by spending ka-ching and materials found on missions. Materials have different levels, so a combination of the most basic ones will yield you a normal Patapon, but rarer ones will give birth to special ones called Rarepons that have innate stat boosts and a special coloring that identifies them. More powerful Rarepons cost more money, so you’ll have to carefully consider what you want to make, as it’s not easy to just get the most powerful Rarepon for every unit. You can also play the different minigames - it costs you an item to enter, and if you do well, you get a better one. All of them involve good timing of the Circle button, and while some can be fun, they’re a bit too repetitive and unforgiving (you’ll only get the best items if you never miss). It doesn’t help that every time you play them you’ve got to listen to the introduction and can’t skip it. In the end, you’ll play the minigames over and over because they give you much needed items, not because you particularly enjoy playing them.


After playing some missions you’ll start noticing that this is not a game that you can breeze through easily, far from it. You’ll sweat and suffer a lot to pass this game, and you’ll see the Mission Failed message far too often. But Patapon’s biggest flaw is that the difficulty is not something you can overcome with careful planning and good execution (though, keeping Fever going for a long time is very important, and if you’re very good at it the game may become easier), but with grinding. When you’re stuck on a mission for good, your best option is to hunt and beat bosses to win better materials and create better Patapons, and then try again. The problem is that you’ll find that you have to do this not once, not twice, but almost all the time. People that love a challenge will be in heaven, but I wish the game had included multiple difficulties, because, while the gameplay is very good, playing the same stages over and over to get better items just to have a chance of beating the next mission gets tiring.

You may think that being a 2D game, the developers might not have put great care into the graphics, but that’s not the case here. Every single unit looks very detailed, and both your forces and the enemies exhibit a wide range of expressions and animations depending on the situation. Bosses in particular look excellent, and some of them reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus. While there are a few palette-swaps (of the 11 bosses in the game, four of them use the same design as each other, just with a different color), their design is very unique. Environments are varied; you’ll traverse deserts, marshes, and plains, every one of them with settings that make it unique, such as the desert burning you, a marsh with constant rain, and so on. What’s more admirable is that there's not a single hitch in framerate, and load times are virtually non-existent. The sound department is easily the strongest part of the game. Every single song you perform is echoed by the Patapons in a very cute manner, and progressive combos make the background music and your army’s chants more powerful and frantic. Different stages have different chants, so there’s a lot to be heard, and hearing the Patapons scream “FEVER!!!” never gets old. It’s difficult to describe why the music is great, because I can’t point to a certain song and say “I loved this song!” like I do in many games, but rather, when you find yourself humming PATA-PATA-PATA-PON while you’re not playing the game, you know the sound of the game has gotten into you.


You can expect Patapon to take you 20 hours or more to beat (after the final boss had fallen, my playtime marked slightly over 22 hours). While that may sound like a decent length, the main problem is that of my 22 hours, 5-10 of them were spent grinding through earlier stages because I was stuck and needed better Patapons. I would have appreciated a much shorter playtime where I wasn't forced to play the same missions over and over again in order to improve. After you beat the game you can replay any of the hunting missions or try to beat any of the bosses again, so, should you get addicted, it’s possible to keep on playing Patapon and killing bosses forever.

In the end, it’s hard to score this review, since I found most parts of the game to be brilliant; from the superb presentation, unique art design and catchy soundtrack, to the innovative and engaging gameplay. And yet, I can’t fail to mention the unfair difficulty of the game and the endless grinding it forces you to endure, and that’s a shame, because ultimately it makes Patapon less enjoyable than it should have been. Still, it’s hard not to recommend such a unique and memorable game. Just be warned; Patapon will not only make you want to smile, but will also make you want to smash your PSP against the floor at the same time.


VGChartz Verdict


8
Great

Read more about our Review Methodology here

Sales History

Total Sales
0.07m
Japan
0.33m
NA
0.25m
Europe
0.17m
Others
0.82m
Total
1 16,076 n/a n/a 16,076
2 9,195 n/a n/a 9,195
3 9,329 n/a n/a 9,329
4 3,705 n/a n/a 3,705
5 3,082 n/a n/a 3,082
6 2,530 n/a n/a 2,530
7 2,303 n/a n/a 2,303
8 1,978 n/a n/a 1,978
9 1,833 n/a n/a 1,833
10 1,676 n/a 5,915 76 7,667

Opinion (96)

Boutros posted 11/02/2011, 12:30
The user score is now below 8 thanks to the Boutros!
Message | Report
patapon posted 03/11/2010, 05:32
Alright, the fucking moron who made the user score 8.1, pleae come forward so I can kill you.
Message | Report
non-gravity posted 17/08/2009, 01:29
chaka chaka pata pon. It's too hard. I don't want to put effort in this.
Message | Report
Burning Typhoon posted 18/06/2009, 03:35
I really didn't like the game very much.. it was... ok, but, I have a thing against trading in my games.
Message | Report
Strategyking92 posted 26/05/2009, 11:38
I don't care what my psp brethren say.
This is overrated. Sales are deserved for a developer trying something new on the psp though. Especially for the locoroco crew.

Funny fact though: the first titles in the series (loco roco, patapon 1) sold ok. Not so much for the sequels.
Message | Report
Aj_habfan posted 10/03/2009, 12:57
The game came out over a year ago, it's not exactly rushed.
Message | Report
View all