Apr 27, 2011

[Games] Patapon (PSP)

Patapon (PSP)We recently bought a PSP as a sort of anniversary present to share between my partner and I. We got the turquoise green one since we often joke about how I come from a more or less "Blue" family in terms of our school colors and he comes from the "Green" side - traditional rivals in the local sphere. It's not as if we care about these petty school rivalries that no one can explain what they're all about anymore. So having a PSP that is shaded with the mix of both colors is a sort of inside joke for us.

Now this is not the first time that I've laid my hands on a PSP. My brother owns one and a good friend also allowed me to play a few games on it here and there when I used to hang out with him and his partner. While it's a shame that I don't get to seem them as much as I used to, the memories of the old game certainly live strongly in my mind and that's sort of influences our early game purchases for this new handheld console that has joined our little geeky family.

As much as it's frustrating how game developers like to torture gamers like us by making certain games exclusive to certain consoles. And as much as I fell in love with this game the first time that I got to play it, the fact that I had to get a PSP to be able to play it for myself was amazingly annoying. But after years of waiting, I've finally given in to those urges deep inside of all of us - the ones that demand that we engage in rhythm battles using tiny little tribesmen to who seem to swearing in Filipino.

Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Patapon is a game that combines traditional rhythm game elements with the role of playing a god and fighting a variety of a other creatures and challenges. The game was developed by Pyramid and was produced by Japan Studios exclusively for the PSP.

In the game, you are a deity of sorts who has come to save the Patapon people from their sad fate. While once a strong and mighty nation, they were defeated by the Zigoton Empire and are now a pale shadow of their former selves. Now that you have come to save the Patapons, you'll gather sacred drums that will allow you to control your Patapon army through a series of commandss that have to be keyed in along with the steady beat also set by the game.

Each four-drum command will have the Patapons do different things such as moving forward, attacking or going into a defensive position. At the same time, keeping up the combo of moves will lead to you and your army reaching a "Fever" state which unlocks new abilities and new environmental effects together with offensive and defensive bonuses for the various units.

The premise sounds strange and the gameplay rather simplistic but once you combine the elements together with the adorable 2D silhouette art environment, it can become quite tricky. After all, you need to think of your actions one "measure" ahead in order to keep your Patapons on the offense and largely successful. And it's not as simple as changing actions every measure - some actions take a bit of time for the Patapons to warm up to, thus requiring you focus your efforts accordingly.

There are also different types of Patapons that you'll get to command in the game. The most basic one that you get is the Hatapon, who is pretty much your flag bearer and the center of your Patapon army. His movement dictates where the rest of the army will go to as a group. Another basic unit that you'll control is the Yaripon, who carries a spear. Your Yaripons are your most basic attack unit that can also be used for hunting. In time you'll find the "memories" of other warrior types that you can use to purchase additional units of these types provided the right ingredients.

Despite what appears to be a rather linear progression for the story, the game actually provides you with opportunities to "grind" - or in this case repeatedly go to the hunting groups to gather more food and thus more materials to use for creating new Patapon. So in this manner you get to increase the size of your army before you progress forward in the story. There are other locations that you can visit to find special items, further challenge your Patapons and thus rewarding you with new items such as better head gear, stronger weapons and so on.

The game has a great sense of humor about it that keeps the mood rather light and playful all throughout. Sure, you have to face some pretty scary challenges in the form of the rival Zigotons, and monsters such as a giant T-Rex and a caterpillar that can survive a burning dessert of fire. But still you'll find yourself laughing here and there while you continue to try and defeat the enemy forces and keep moving forward to get to the next checkpoint.

Patapon remains one of my favorite games regardless of console and probably one of the best reasons to still get a PSP. The franchise has expanded over the years with the third installment just recently released. And I look forward to every chance to move forward and play the next stage. Patapon gets 5 crazy catch phrases like "spank them bottoms" out of a possible 5.

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