How enticing does becoming a rhythm god to a group of walking talking eyeballs who follow your every command sound? They’ll wage war, hunt, and even go to the moon and back for you, as long as you can drum to the beat. Putting it simply, this is what Patapon is all about, following the beat as you march your way and lead your tribe towards victory.
Patapon was quite the unique game when it was first released on the PSP way back in 2007 (2008 in the West). It was a blend of rhythm and strategy where you controlled a tribe of eye-looking creatures called Patapon into battle. It was fresh and infectious, with everybody humming the pon-pon-pata-pon beat wherever they go, as it introduced innovation into the rhythm game genre. Fast forward to 2020 and Playstation 4 owners are treated to a remastered version of its sequel Patapon 2. Would you be better off spending your hard earned cash elsewhere or could you spend just a teeny tiny bit more for a piece of gaming nostalgia?
Off the bat, you’ll notice the Remaster tag plastered across the title. Remasters, in laymans terms, is simply a visual upgrade while a remake similar to Resident Evil 2 for example, is a start from scratch type of project that takes the whole game into consideration. With Patapon, it’s hard to go wrong with a remaster, since the graphics are simple shapes and colors and effects and with that said, this is a very clean and correct remaster. Gone are the jagged edges and the ever so slightly blurred backgrounds and visual effects. Patapon 2 is presented in vivid color, with popping reds, soothing blues, and deep blacks, it’s certainly a treat for the eyes as you lead your tribe into battle.
The basics of the beat
If you’ve played the game from over a decade ago, then you’ll be glad to know that not much has changed except the visual upgrade, for better or for worse. Jumping into the game is easy, whether you are a newbie to the game or not. Patapon is very easy to pick up but the game is deceptively tough to master, especially as you learn to shift commands in between the heat of battle.
You’re basically given 4 buttons to play around with, each providing you with an action based on the combination. Square Square Square Circle or Pata-pata-pata-pon is your basic marching command while Circle Cirle Square Circle, or Pon-pon-pata-pon is your attack command. Inputting these combinations to the beat will see you successfully command your troops to finish the level but fail to input it during the proper timing will have you repeat things all over again.
As you progress throughout the game, you’ll learn more advanced combinations of sequences that can heal status ailments, charge your energy, or even jump really high up in the air. Unless you’ve got a good memory, it’ll do you well to actually keep a cheat sheet handy for the times that you’ll need to quickly remember what sequences does what!
The game sprinkles RPG elements in between levels, where you’ll need to farm materials for crafting, go on side missions, and level up your troops to face the dangers that lie ahead. Each Patapon you can deploy into your army can develop into a certain type of warrior depending on how you choose to upgrade them. You can create frontliners that are resistant to cold attacks or even cavalry riders that can knock back any approaching enemies. The choice is yours and while it gives you a LOT of combinations to play around with, it can get overwhelming at times.
You’ll need to gather materials in between story missions, going back to previous levels to find that item you need to finally upgrade that last unit or to craft another archer to bolster your back lines. It’s a choice you’ll have to make and you’ll be doing it quite often because you don’t add units by the bunch, you’ll be adding them individually, hence the emphasis on repeating a lot of the previous levels to create a formidable eyeball army. There is a heavy push for farming and crafting, which makes sense if you’re wanting to really memorize all the commands, something you’ll do quite easily due to the repetitiveness of the game.
Also new to Patapon 2 is the addition of Hero units, super powerful… eyeball units that special abilities of their own that can turn the tide of battle in your favor.
Your toughest challenge, more often than not, is yourself. In the later levels, you’ll need to juggle a lot of things simultaneously in order complete the mission. Reading the movements of the enemies, placing the proper commands, tapping to the beat -- it’ll all get a tad bit too complex at some point which is why, despite the simple appearance and mechanics of the game, Patapon 2 isn’t to be taken too lightly.
Adding to your woes is the audio not being in sync with the visuals at times, prompting you to miss out on a long combo string you’ve been working on simply because you completed the command at the right time, or so you thought. It’s quite an oversight which we feel is inexcusable in rhythm games, where the main point of the game is to stick to the beat. Sadly, this is the same issue that plagued the initial release so it’s quite a shame that this hasn’t been fixed in this iteration.
It’s also quite a shame that the multiplayer aspect of the game has been removed from this offering, as it could have made for quite an experience with friends. It was the big differentiating factor the sequel had over the first game and to see it not make its way into this remastered version is quite heartbreaking.
What we liked:
- Classic Patapon rhythm gameplay well translated
- Crisp and vivid 4K visuals
What we didn’t like:
- Input lag is present and irritating
- Multiplayer is gone
All in all there’s a reason Patapon and its sequels were a hit during their time. As to whether it’s a must buy, that will really depend on your preference. At $14.99 (or roughly around PHP750) in the Playstation Store, it’s actually cheaper than the original PSP port but we’re going to be honest here and if you’ve already played it on the PSP, there’s no other reason aside from nostalgia for buying the game again apart from a graphical overhaul. If you’re a complete newcomer to the series, the price may not seem so bad but at this point in time, it really sounds like a hard sell. The simplistic and repetitive gameplay may be a turn off to some and it really feels like an experience better suited to a portable gaming device. However, if you are really itching for something unique to play and want to buy something badly, then by all means give the game a shot.
*Patapon 2 Remastered was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.