Rhythm & Action - Patapon

Since having a chance to play Silent Hill: Origins on the PSP I’ve pretty much been hooked.  So it was with great pleasure that I took delivery of the highly innovative Patapon very recently – and I’ve had much fun playing it ever since.

The storyline follows the Patapon tribe that has lived in a desolate frontier, driven away by the evil Zigoton army.  However, they have a ‘fierce warrior sprit’ that is waiting to be commanded by their God’s war drum.  Finally, the ‘Almighty’ has returned – the player.  You command the Patapon tribe with a variety of different drumbeats.  Get them to attack, defend, power up etc.

If you get the chance to play Patapon, you’ll notice a couple of things straight away.  The first is that, very clearly, it is similar to the brilliant Loco Roco, in so far as you’ll be commanding a bunch of characters around your PSP on 2D plane.  Aside from this, things are far more developed in that you have access to RPG/real time elements with stuff to collect and even a bit of character development.

When playing the game, you have access to four drums (which are of course mapped to the four face buttons on the PSP).  You must give your orders via the drums in a time that matches the beat throughout each mission in the game.  The orders you give come from sequences of the drums.  This may sound simple on paper (or on screen rather) but in fact it is incredibly simple.  Not only that, but it works fantastically well.  Powers go even further with weather effects (such as an earthquake) for more difficult sections of the game.

Your Patapon army come in a variety of specimens, including archers, soldiers, spearmen, cavalry and musicians who have large instruments that launch what can only be described as shells toward your opponents.  Interestingly, the real time strategy element kicks in by giving you only three different unit types per mission.  Unless you choose wisely, you might get unstuck – but a careful choice of orders will also ensure that you can get past a tough mission.

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The game has more than 30 missions that you can really break down into three basic types.  These are hunting the enemy, battling them and of course the requisite boss battles.  These are a theme of games I’ve played on the PSP so far!  Mentioning battles, the equipment that enemies leave behind are up for grabs, so make sure you pick it up to ease your way in the future.

To keep you busy and returning to the game, there are minigames available back at base camp.  These are of course rhythm action based, so if you like the initial concept you’ll like these too.  This will give you access to more resources in game and further types of soldier with upgrades.

Overall, due to the way in which that Patapon has been brought together, you will be able to say for sure that you might have played games with similar elements, but truly you won’t have played anything quite like it before.  For this reason alone, and for the fact that it’s truly a one off on the PSP of all formats, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

The game is out now for about $29.99 on the PSP.

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