Nine years ago, the western world discovered how weird and wacky a company from Japan could be. In a world with fewer indies, Sony still funded small and strange games such as LocoRoco and Patapon for the PSP. The former was remastered for PS4 recently, and the latter has finally been re-released for old and new audiences alike.
Kicking in I was concerned as the game started, with visuals that clearly looked ripped straight from the UMD, the proprietary PSP format for those too young to remember. Fortunately, this concern eased immediately as the animation of the four buttons that appears now and then was the only thing that looked that way, when the actual game kicked in it looked glorious. This is fortunate as it’s the reason this version of the game exists, to be a prettier, more available version of the classic Patapon.
For those who didn’t play this classic on the PSP nine years ago, Patapon is a rhythm game with an edge. The purpose of the game is to motivate the Patapon, a weird looking people with a monstrous eye, armed with tribal weapons to venture and defeat their enemies. The Patapon tribe travels from left to right in each 2D level depending on your commands, and it’s the way you command them that makes the game unique, interesting, but also frustrating. They do what you do based on a four button prompt you put in, for instance, square, square, square, circle will tell them to move forward. Now if this sounds weird, it’s because it is, but it’s also what makes Patapon such an interesting game.
There is a selection of commands which vary from moving forward, attacking or defending. It’s not as easy as remembering the commands, you must also keep rhythm or you’re out of rhythm command will fail. This isn’t too much of a major as the game has a soft metronome to help you get back into rhythm but you will lose your combo, of which you need to maintain if you want to enter fever mode. When fever mode kicks in if you continue to maintain the rhythm, then a worm comes in to help you with your enemy problem. Annoyingly the easiest way to fail is if you get distracted by something on the screen such as a text bubble as it’s very easy to be off by a couple of seconds when you are reading the dialogue.
This alone is what makes Patapon unique, great and worthy of your time with its short levels being perfect for short or long play sessions, being super easy to pick up then put down. The game doesn’t stop there however, it then adds some depth with customisation. As you progress you find new types of Patapon, meaning you can move from your usual spears and arrows to the axe welders you unlock first, plus more. Collecting loot allows you to birth new Patapon, with a weird in game ritual you get to witness, of any of the types you unlock. Then upgrading their weapons makes each member of the Patapon stronger, so you can maximise your attacks, as well as pick the Patapon that will suit the level in front of you best.
8/10 – Patapon, at its price of under $25 is a bargain. It’s a fun game that has been made prettier, thanks to its simple art style, and the gameplay still holds frustratingly strong. If you’re a fan of rhythm games or smaller titles that use different gameplay mechanics to provide a unique experience, it’s hard to look past Patapon Remastered. Unfortunately, there isn’t new content for players of the original, but it is great to revisit.