If you’re a PSP gamer, and the first two Patapon games somehow crept past you, then you’d really be well served to take a look at the series. A well designed and sharply implemented merging of rhythm game and real time strategy RPG made the first two games both addictive and joy inducing.
My wife used to laugh at me bouncing up and down on the couch in time to the beat, until I made her play the first one. She got the appeal right away, which was great because it was another game that we could talk about and share, but also a curse, since I didn’t see my PSP (or my wife) for the next month. Needless to say, I was excited to get my hands on the demo of Patapon 3 in the Sony section of the E3’10 show floor without my beloved one there to steal the system.
For those that are unfamiliar with the franchise, Patapon puts you in the role of the deity of the Patapons, who revere you and are inspired and guided by you. The face buttons correspond to different drum tones, and combinations of these different drums hit in rhythm will issue commands to your Patapon devotees. As you add drums and rhythms to your arsenal, you can order your minions to advance, attack, defend, and retreat.
Patapon 3 continues the tradition that was begun in the original Patapon, but brings a much higher level of accessibility to the game. The first game was great, but many of the Patapon upgrade mechanics could only be mastered through vast trial and error or a quick trip to the land of FAQs. The requirements for upgrades are now very clear, and so the player can make much more informed decisions on how to use rare materials to develop their army.
Success in Patapon gameplay is greatly enhanced by getting your Patapons to enter Fever Mode, which is only accomplished after you successfully execute a number of drum commands in perfect rhythm. Fever Mode increase attack power, speed, and other attributes vital for beating boss characters and large groups of enemies. Patapon 3 is much more forgiving, which is a welcome tweak from the first two games which made it frustratingly difficult to maintain at times.
The stylized art style of the game is even more charming than ever (if that’s possible), and a co-op play mode will hopefully mean that I see my wife once this one comes out.