It feels surreal that it has been a decade since a little device in my hand so effectively charmed me with its rallying cry of “Pata Pata Pata Pon!”. Patapon was originally one of the PSP’s very best and 10 years later it’s back, remastered for Sony’s PlayStation 4.
The Patapon are a tribe of anthropomorphised disembodied eyeballs. Once a great and prosperous tribe, the Patapon have been forced from their homeland by the invading Zigaton army. While they’re adept warriors, without some ultimate guidance they’re a little scattered and lost. In the direst of situations, their revered deity returns to guide them. It just so happens that the great and benevolent divine being is you. As The Almighty, it’s your job to guide the Patapon to a mysterious place called Earthend, so that they may gaze upon the wonders of “it.”
You don’t have direct control of the little guys. Instead, you interact with and control the Patapon through the use of four battle drums, each mapped to the DualShock’s face buttons. Orders are given to the tribe by drumbeats, using a cadence that matches the level’s music. Specific beats dole out different orders; the simple “Pata Pata Pata Pon” commands your troops to march forward, while “Pon Pon Pata Pon” has your troops attack. Later, you’ll learn other songs which have your army charging, defending or retreating. You’ll also learn to use your omnipotent powers to perform miracles to help your army across parched desserts, or melodies that can create powerful earthquakes to help fell the game’s large and often challenging bosses.
Patapon is more than just a rhythm game though, playing much like a linear real-time strategy. You can only take three different unit types, and up to six of each type with you on each mission. Choosing the right units – foot soldiers, archers, spearmen, cavalry and even bards – is just as important as maintaining the right rhythm. Keep up a combo and your units go into fever mode, where they move faster, hit harder, and are more resilient. Break the chain and the Patapon lambaste you for your lack of rhythm.
There are three distinct level types among the game’s 30, dozen-hour spanning levels. There are hunts, battles, and bosses. Hunting levels will let you gather resources from the flora and fauna of Patapon’s simple silhouetted world. Battles – usually objective based – will have you and your assembled army taking on the Zigatons. Lastly, you’ll get boss levels, which have your Patapon going up against dinosaurs, crabs, giant plants and more as your army makes its way across the plains. After beating a boss, you have the option of replaying the boss levels, with the difficulty – and spoils – increasing with each successive attempt.
When you’re not doing any of those three things, there are a handful of activities you can do at home base. A sprinkling of smaller rhythm-based minigames can be played to earn a few extra resources, while the tree of life can be used to birth new warriors or bring fallen ones back from death. The quality of resources you spend determine how strong your warriors are. You’ll also collect new armour and weapons for your Patapon, with a vast collection of unique and varied worthwhile loot to embolden your army. It’s something you’ll want to do, because behind those simple (yet striking) visuals lies a game that can be brutally challenging.
It looks wonderful in its new home on the PlayStation 4. Its visuals are crisp and colourful, but as simple as they’ve always been. Unfortunately, just as we saw with Loco Roco, while the in-game visuals are lovely, pre-rendered cut-scenes that are up-scaled from their PSP originals, the end result makes them look fuzzy. The game also – just like the original – has no autosave. It’s an omission I found out after making it half way through the campaign in a single sitting, only to have that progress forgotten.
With the game so reliant on audio, you may also experience input lag depending on your TV and audio system. I experienced no issues in this regard – but your mileage may vary. As with Parappa the Rappa Remastered, there is no way to account for audio and input lag.
Last Updated: July 31, 2017