An Essay on the Necessity of Headphones - A Patapon Review
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Art has a place in gaming. In everything from stylish graphic design to establishing character personality and setting.

By that regard, Pyramid's Patapon for the Sony PSP is a shining example of successful merger of form and function. A mixture of rhythm and strategy, Patapon is a simple 2D Side-Scrolling music game. The player assumes control of a God who commands the mighty Patapon army through the use of war drums.

The player has two main tasks in Patapon. To amass resources and build his or her army of Patapons, and to command these Patapons into battle. The execution of this system is where the strategy elements of the game come into play.

The first task is to maintain the Patapon army. This is the bulk of the strategy element of the game, which is comprised of assembling equipment and unit types for battle. You build new units and equipment by combining or spending resources gathered from hunting or boss battles. This is a unique system that provides a lot of variety and interest to the game that wouldn't normally be there. This is the hinging point that separates Patapon from other simple music games.

So here's a giant enemy crab...

The second task is to lead the Patapon into battle, which is quite fun. The actual gameplay portion of the game is comprised of leading the Patapon to attack, defend, or move based on a four-note series of drum beats that match the game's rhythm. These drum beats are simple commands, and easy to remember in the heat of battle. After a large enough combo, the Patapon will go into a fever mode where they will attack more often, press harder, or get more range to their attacks. The game rewards you quite ably for being able to maintain Fever, but will punish you quite readily for even the slightest of mistakes. Sometimes it proves to be too finite, and will pull you out of Fever mode even if you successfully continue the combo, though this doesn't happen often enough to produce a very large negative response.

The tribal drums, chanting, and very "earthy" feel of Patapon does a lot to really put the spark of charm that brings Patapon full-circle. It's a very charming game because it carries itself artfully. It does so very, very well. It is because Patapon is so charming that the game is as strong as it is. The rhythmic chanting and tribal music with artistically simplistic scenery and characters really brings the experience to a personal and immersive level. This is Patapon's greatest strength.

Sadly, this charm is also its biggest flaw.

Management isn't Patapon's strong suit.

Part of what makes Patapon so great is that it doesn't try to be something it isn't. A simple rhythm game with some strategic elements and charming art design. The problem is it sometimes has a little too many strategy elements. The fun and forward gameplay is what makes the game so strong, but gets bogged enough when trying to manage and grind resources to build the army strong enough to crest the next hill. The segments where I could crush three to four missions at a time without having to hunt or revisit bosses were amazing. The segments where I repeating hunting six to seven times to amass enough resources to build up my army the next step higher was slow. It was also dull. Worst of all, it wasn't fun.

The game's strongest element is the battle, the drive, and the rhythm. If the player spends too long grinding, or considering amassing resources to upgrade a few units, the real strength of the game gets lost in the shuffle. Managing a limited amount of resources is part of most people's work for a reason. "Work" doesn't have a lot of ground in this game. The leading of armies and the chanting of Patapon is what makes this game. The occasional over-emphasis of strategy and management will be the crushing blow that (if anything) will break it.

Bottom Line: A disarmingly witty and charming game whose strength comes from its simplicity, but occasionally slows itself down by introducing too many elements at once.

Recommendation: Buy It. You won't find another game that does rhythm in such a stylish way.

Excellent review NewClassic, it's always a pleasure to read such good material.

Sounds like an excellent game as well!

Regards,

-Joe

Very nice read, and quite true on the negatives. Although I found the game and music to be relaxing enough to get through the "grind" sessions.
This game gets a huge thumbs up from me, probably one of the best PSP exclusives.

Makes me wish I had a PSP. :\

NewClassic:
The problem is it sometimes has a little too much strategy elements.

Shouldn't that be too many?
Good review, though I can only hope that the PSP crashes and burns so that this game comes to the DS so I can actually play it... though there's not much chance of that.

Lukeje:

NewClassic:
The problem is it sometimes has a little too much strategy elements.

Shouldn't that be too many?
Good review, though I can only hope that the PSP crashes and burns so that this game comes to the DS so I can actually play it... though there's not much chance of that.

Can't believe I missed that. I think the original line read "Too much strategy." Which didn't feel right to me. Ah well, thanks for the heads-up. It's been fixed.

As far as the PSP, I honestly don't expect it to. It's a very strong system. Although I'm sure why so many people don't have one, considering how many times I hear "Man, I wish I had a PSP." or "Why can't the DS get the good games the PSP gets, too?"

I love my DS and my PSP, so I never understood why no one seems to consider getting both. Their combined cost is about as much as your average single next-gen console, so you're not exactly hammering the bank by investing in them both. (A cost that's halved if you already own one or the other.)

Very nice. Looks like a great game; I love strategy. Coincidentally, I have my eye on a strategy game for the DS right now. Wierd.

NewClassic:

I love my DS and my PSP, so I never understood why no one seems to consider getting both. Their combined cost is about as much as your average single next-gen console, so you're not exactly hammering the bank by investing in them both. (A cost that's halved if you already own one or the other.)

The problem is then that you end up buying twice as many games (or I can see myself doing at any rate). At least when you don't own both systems there's an extra amount of money on top of the game for every game that you would want (if that makes sense) thus deterring you from buying it.

Well written review, though I'd like to add that the game is awfully grind-heavy, even more than you mention in the review.

Were you not annoyed by the 5 mini-games (the tree, the flower, the baby mountain, the cooking pot and the smithy thing)? They used the same rhythm, thus button press pattern each time you play them, which made the grind even more obvious. Thankfully tehre's a level near the end in which you can get loads of Ka-Ching by saving a special patapon in a short and easy hunting area, but even then, it doesn't feel like they wanted you to not grind your way through the (very short) story.

Still, I consider this one of the (if not THE) best game on the thing. In a few weeks, the sequel will be out, and I'll definitely be getting that one as well (as from what i've seen, there's difficulty levels at the mini-games, new units and 2 new commands etc.) ^^

Isn't the game a year old? Anyway, interesting review. I'd try, it if I had a PSP.

Great review, Mr. Nuke. I'd definitely play Patapon if I had a PSP - I'm a sucker for artsy games with quirky graphics.

I think a good point that you seem to have overlooked is the price - I believe it was only $20 when it came out, probably even less now, which is quite cheap even for a PSP game.

PON! PON! PATA! PON!

During this sequence, my mind was like "bunka dunka bunka dunka bunka dunk".

Anyway, good review, I can't see anything you made a mistake on or was too out of line. I personally didn't enjoy Patapon because after about 5 minutes it was a bit too repetitive for my taste, but to each his own.

FEEEVER!!

Top review Nuke, though the transition between the first paragraph and the second feels a tad jerky to me, so I'd drop the first altogther and move around the second to fit.

Other than that, great stuff. Then again, do we really expect anything less? :P

I have played/finished this game at a friends and I have to say that it was great, as for your review it was stellar. One of the best i've seen, but then again good reviews is how you earned your title.

Patapon is my favorite psp game I love it so much.

Great review, looks like the psp might actually get a bit more money out of me :O

First of all it is an excellent review, I find your style engaging and the review insightful. My only problem with it is the opening. I find that it doesn't flow very well and that the second sentence makes no sense, I would find a way of reconciling the two sentences, as it doesn't fit the style of the piece.

Lukeje:
The problem is then that you end up buying twice as many games (or I can see myself doing at any rate). At least when you don't own both systems there's an extra amount of money on top of the game for every game that you would want (if that makes sense) thus deterring you from buying it.

Games for portable consoles always 'last' me longer than other games because I can play them anywhere. I only have a few PSP games compared to the vast amount of 360 games I have, but I seem to play my PSP more because it's easier. I don't mean the games are easier, but just getting round to play. Plus, the PSP doesn't have too many games regularly coming out meaning that you spend longer on games before you start another.

Here's an example, THUG2 was an amazing game, I played it quite a bit got pretty far and then stopped playing it. A little while later I bought THUG2 Remix for my PSP and played it in dribs and drabs every so often and completed it.

This looks very interesting. Do you think I would be able to download it for the PS3?

Pfft, you call that an essay?

10,000 words on my deskby Monday mister!

Nice work.

NewClassic:

As far as the PSP, I honestly don't expect it to. It's a very strong system. Although I'm sure why so many people don't have one, considering how many times I hear "Man, I wish I had a PSP." or "Why can't the DS get the good games the PSP gets, too?"

I love my DS and my PSP, so I never understood why no one seems to consider getting both. Their combined cost is about as much as your average single next-gen console, so you're not exactly hammering the bank by investing in them both. (A cost that's halved if you already own one or the other.)

Cause buying twice the consoles means buying twice the games, not to mention that probably you have other console or PC to buy games too. And thinking about it will make one of your gaming platforms become obsolete. Which blows. :(

oliveira8:
Buying twice the consoles means buying twice the games.

The main appeal of the PSP & DS is that buying games isn't necessary.

harhol:

oliveira8:
Buying twice the consoles means buying twice the games.

The main appeal of the PSP & DS is that buying games isn't necessary.

I dont have a PSP or a DS so I might sound stupid...but if you dont buy games for them what good are they for?

I know the PSP has some sort of media center in it, but like in some ZP review watching Full Metal Jacket for 100th time in a tiny screen on a bus is not the greatest of ideas.

oliveira8:

harhol:

oliveira8:
Buying twice the consoles means buying twice the games.

The main appeal of the PSP & DS is that buying games isn't necessary.

I dont have a PSP or a DS so I might sound stupid...but if you dont buy games for them what good are they for?

I know the PSP has some sort of media center in it, but like in some ZP review watching Full Metal Jacket for 100th time in a tiny screen on a bus is not the greatest of ideas.

Sorry... I mean the ease with which games can be acquired for free makes them very appealing. They're both very prone to piracy. Once you get the system it only takes a matter of minutes before you're playing anything & everything.

 

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