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Patapon - PSP - Preview


Posted by: jkdmedia

Well, what an insidious little title this is!

Patapon offers itself as a two-dimensional platformer that is a side-to-side scroller, but it combines that with rhythm-based movement commands. It starts off by looking cute with little Patapons (the name of the tribe you control), referring to you in such reverent terms as ‘almighty,’ hooks you with the simplistic gameplay nature, then twists you around with the challenging aspects of guiding your tribe to victory against a variety of foes.

And only then do you realize that this SCEA title for the PSP also has elements commonly associated with role-playing games. Yes, you actually can collect and level up (re-equip) your little warriors. And - *gasp!* - you may even start to feel a certain affinity for some of the little guys.

Truly, Patapon is more that simply a stylized platform title for the PSP. It is deep, engrossing and a whole lot of fun.

While there is no real need for it, there is a storyline for this title. The Patapon tribe lives on the desolate frontier, driven from their homeland by the Zigoton army. While they do possess a warrior spirit, they wait patiently (well, maybe not too patiently) for the “Almighty” to return to them and lead them from the frontier back to their homeland and prosperity. Only the Almighty can wield the drum, which through a set of hotkeys pressed to a certain tempo, will have the Patapon warriors marching, attacking or defending. The goal is to build up your combos to reach a 'Fever' pitch, at which point your army really is able to do a bit a damage to its enemies.

The game contains more than 30 missions in a variety of environments. Players will traverse swamplands, volcanic territory, gorges and deserts collecting resources and fighting to collect drops to outfit the army. There are five music-based mini-games as well in this title, which will give the players upgrades and bonuses. With a total of six drumbeats to learn, players will have to think quickly while planning ahead. The game’s mission structure includes boss battles, hunting, and escort-type activities. There are also more than 100 items and weapons to find and use to create a powerful army.

As one might surmise, music plays a vital part of this title and the musical score is very nicely handled. The beats are distinctive enough to allow players to recognize a rhythm and work in time to it.

Graphically the game sports a very simplistic stylized appearance that works very, very well. The game’s look was designed by renowned French graphic artist Rolito and uses simple abstract character designs juxtaposed against brilliant solidly colored backdrops. The game almost has a silhouette graphical style that really works well here.

It does not take long for this game to weave a spell of its own and draw the player in. The first couple of missions are too easy, but then the challenge starts to ramp up and losing a unit early will likely mean failing the mission.

Patapon is a wonderfully inspired game that oozes addictive gameplay elements. You begin playing and thinking it “cute,” but before long you find your foot tapping to the game’s rhythms as you try to think not only about what is happening but anticipating what may happen in order to be prepared to change the beat but not lose the rhythm.

Look for this title to release February 26.

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