The PSP is already home to quite a few unique and engaging titles that we gamers can’t find anywhere else, and one of them is Patapon. It’s easily one of the more entertaining titles featuring an original premise, and not surprisingly, Pyramid is planning a sequel, which we’re hoping will release some time early next year. If you’re not quite familiar, you can read our review of the original or let us give you the quick rundown: the game is like a music/rhythm/strategy hybrid that pits the brave little Patapons against invading forces. During battle, you press the face buttons in time with the rhythm of combat; if you’re precise, you will be rewarded. That’s the rhythm aspect of the title, but the strategy part revolves around the Patapons themselves, whom you can upgrade as the adventure moves on. There are different types of soldiers, which means that depending on the units you send into battle, you may be at an immediate advantage or disadvantage. The combination may sound bizarre, but it worked extremely well.
And they’re bringing this now tried-and-true formula back with Patapon 2, much to the delight of the fans. Therefore, we won’t spend much time on this; we’re going to assume that if you played the first title, you’ll be up to speed when you pick up the sequel. However, we are expecting plenty of little enhancements, ranging from new unit classes/jobs and skills to a whole new storyline. Remember, this game includes a bit of the depth commonly found in a role-playing game, along with the easily grasped rhythm mechanic. If anything is going to change or receive a bit of an overhaul, it likely won’t be the music aspect; we should get more robustness on the part of the Patapons themselves. Just think of all the possibilities! While you were playing through the first title, you likely thought of a few possibilities yourself, and don’t think for a second that Patapon 2 will be a rehash. Sure, it uses the same foundation, but the rest should be entirely fresh and new.
Perhaps the biggest addition comes with the new multiplayer mode. The original game didn’t have this option, and as soon as you try it out, you’re gonna realize how much you missed it. The sequel will let four players head out onto the stylish 2D battlefield and test their abilities against all sorts of foes, but first, you must try to hatch the eggs. …that’s right, the eggs. In any other game, this idea might seem zany: working together to hatch these giant eggs will grant your team new items that should prove very useful at a later time. Of course, we don’t think we’ll have to sit on the eggs to hatch them; that really would be too silly. Furthermore, each member of your party can customize his chosen Patapon hero to his heart’s content, and that includes outfitting him with a plethora of new equipment. According to IGN, there will be masks that boost attributes, “like giving them a bump in hit points or making them more resistant to damage.” You just better hope your buddies are as “in-tune” as you are; otherwise, if you get all out of whack and start missing those rhythmic button presses, you won’t hatch any eggs. Yeah, we all have that problem from time to time.
However, even if one of your friends bites the digital dust, you can keep going. Only one player needs to stay alive in order to keep the quest moving forward, and if that player can survive long enough, the other players will resurrect. On the other hand, this only applies if you’re actually battling an enemy of some kind; if you’re trying to hatch an egg, all four of you need to work together to get the good stuff within. Now, if you combine the already absorbing single-player campaign with this new and obviously promising multiplayer mode, Patapon 2 ought to be yet another must-have. If you still have any reservations about the idea of putting RPG/strategy elements into a loopy handheld music-based title, you’ll probably be able to pick up the original game at a discounted price at some point. For those of you who are always complaining about how we don’t have enough innovation and originality in this new generation, the PSP has offered plenty of refreshing experiences. And we absolutely guarantee that Patapon 2 will be one such experience.
Onwards, resilient Patapons!
11/8/2008 Ben Dutka