Review: If PaRappaTheRapper had nightmares, this is what it'd look like.
Patapon is a game that's hard to put down, yet very easy to throw down. There are many difficult levels in which you'll nearly break your PSP out of frustration. However, players who are determined and people who have natural rhythm will see this unique handheld title to ?Earthend.? That's the name of the location where you lead a tribe of one-eyed, two-dimensional creatures as a drum-beating god.
Although being a god sounds easy, dictating to your minions isn't straightforward; that's where the fun as well as the frustration comes into play. Using the four face buttons in time and in the right sequence, you order these tiny black creatures to march, attack, defend and cast spells. So, to move your ten-creature tribe forward (the only way you can move, actually), you hit Square (which makes a Pata sound) three times and hit the Circle (which makes the Pon sound) button one time. Doing it in time with the game's underlying beat is the key. As your tribe marches forward, they'll echo your drum beat sequence by singing Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon. If you want to reach fever mode, which increases your ability to attack and defend after ten consistent beats, you must time the same Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon sequence or another sequence right after they sing the first one.
In effect, your drum beating and their signing never stops in Patapon and your creatures never cease moving or attacking if you're good at pulling off the fever mode combos. As the game's many axe-wielding, spear-chucking and horseback jousting classes fight giant dinosaur-like and worm-shaped monsters, they gain skill points and items. Equipping your army with more powerful weapons, stronger helmets and tougher shields becomes an essential part of your winning strategy, so much so that you'll addictively venture back into easier hunting levels to boost your growing creatures' performance levels. If you're not into editing your troop formations once you acquire new items, you can press the triangle button twice on the Patapon roster and the game will auto-equip your forces with the best item configuration. Of course, it's more fun planning everything out yourself and auto-equip isn't perfect in all cases.
By the time you play through Patapon's 30 missions and the five mini-games, your creatures will have literally grown before your eyes like the maturing of a child actor; from adorable and cute to lanky and mutated. No matter how far you're into the game, though, the music is always cheery and upbeat. It's like the soundtrack of LocoRoco (the other inventive PSP game by developer Japan Studio) in that you're going to be embarrassed to play this in public because of all of the high-pitched, kiddy chanting coming out of your PSP. Worse yet, unlike LocoRoco, you really
can't turn down the volume of Patapon since keeping with the beat is the only way to beat this game.
Even if you have the volume turned up, you're still going to mess up the beat and end your fever mode no matter how good you become. And, that's where the most frustrating part of Patapon comes into play: when it really isn't your fault. The creatures' chanting that echoes your drum rhythm is something you constantly work off of: you drum, they echo, you drum, they echo, etc. However, sometimes their chanting changes ever so slightly (especially when fever mode kicks into gear and new sounds start to emanate), throwing your rhythm off balance and breaking your combo at the worst possible time. Singing the rhythm yourself and tapping it out with your foot when your minions let you down demonstrates how hard it is to be a god and how into this game you can become.