Patapon 2 Review
After a year the original rhythm game Patapon has earned its sequel. The first game was a huge success and garnered critical acclaim. Is Patapon 2 the sequel we’ve all been waiting for or has this series lost its footing in the rhythm?
The gameplay in Patapon 2 hasn’t changed at all from the first. You use the face buttons to issue your drum commands, the left/right arrows move the screen, the select button shows your list of commands, and the start button allows you to quit the mission. I should note my tiny gripe that the start button still doesn’t allow you to pause the game. I understand this is a rhythm game but having to put the PSP in sleep mode every time I needed to pause was just annoying.
Patapon 2 has an RPG element which involves levelling your units (more on that later) and collecting equipment to make your army stronger. The stronger weapons and pieces of armor also include various status effects like sleep, freeze, and burn. My major annoyance about this game that wasn’t change from the original game is that you still get all your weapons from missions. In missions the weapons you get are all completely random and if you happen to kill an enemy and they drop a rare weapon but have a horde of enemies you have to fight that weapon might disappear if you take too long. This gets increasingly frustrating if your bow units happen to kill enemies behind towers and you have a tower or two to get through, and not to mention the Karmens you have to fight.
The first Patapon had around 35 missions, while Patapon trumps this by having 80 missions. Missions usually take 5 minutes but can stretch up to 20. There are three types of missions: Hunting missions involve hunting various creatures for materials, boss battles which pit you against one of the game’s giant behemoths, fortress missions which involve you commanding your army through the defenses of a Karmen fortress, and missions that are similar to fortress missions but without the fortress. Fortress, boss battles, and hunting missions can be played repeatedly. Fortress and boss battles increase in level and difficulty every time you complete it.
One of the big additions to the single player campaign is the Hero unit. These are stronger than your regular Patapons and wear masks. These masks have different abilities that boost your Hero’s stats and can be acquired in multiplayer mission (more on that later). Hero Patapon can take the form of any class and rank of Patapons, and each class has a special ability which can be activated by performing a set of Just Timings. Just Timing is beating the drum (button) perfectly on beat and the amount needed to trigger your Hero’s special ability depends on the difficulty.
When you complete a certain amount of perfect beats your Patapon will get into Fever mode where the music gets faster, your Patapon get stronger/faster, and their specific skills get much stronger. For example the Tatepon’s shield gets much bigger when the defense beat is used, Yumipons get faster and fire 3 arrows at a time, and Yaripons throw their spears farther.
One of the biggest gripes with the first game was the fact that if you upgraded your Patapon to a faster class for example, and wanted to change it for a stronger class you’d have to throw out the first Patapon to make room and losing all the materials and Ka-ching you spent on it. In Patapon 2 they have added an evolution map that has a vast majority of classes to upgrade to. The best part about this is if you create an ice resistant Patapon for a mission but need a fire resistant for the next mission you can just switch their caps in the equipment screen. You can also level up each separate class up to 10. Within the map are 6 memories to unlock advanced Patapon units. Once you unlock a class near a memory you’ll get the memory and be able to create new Patapons of that memory. The brute Dekapons, horse riding Kibapons, and musical Megapons return once again accompanied by the fist-fighting Robopons, magician Mahopons, and the flying Toripons.
Mini-games return to Patapon 2 and include some old favorites with new ones. The mini-games from the first game return with a twist. When you start up the game it’ll ask you which level you would like to start at. As you play the mini-game and if you get a perfect score you will unlock the higher levels. The newer mini-games have a twist on the gameplay by having notes move across the screen which you must hit at the right moment.
There isn’t much to say about the story. It takes place immediately after the first game and after landing on a mysterious new island you encounter the new enemy tribe called the Karmen. After that it’s your job to guide the Patapon tribe to through this new land. There’s also another tribe you encounter led by a Dark Hoshipon, but I’m going to keep as little spoilers as possible.
Rolito does it once again with the designs in Patapon 2. Each sprite is colorful and their animations are full of personality, style, and wit. The bosses are huge, menacing, and their animations all feel different giving each one its own personality. Rolito’s designs truly stand out and are a huge part of what makes the game so adorable.
The music in Patapon 2 is just as amazing as the first game. I found myself tapping my foot to the beats and humming the songs when I wasn’t playing. As you beat your drums and your Patapon army begins singing it’s hard not to smile. You’ll mainly hear the sound of your drums and Patapons singing during gameplay but the background music is a treat to the ears and I really hope they release a soundtrack.
Probably the biggest addition to Patapon 2 is multiplayer. Once you unlock your Hero character you are able to join 3 friends via Ad-Hoc in a co-op mode where instead of commanding your squad you control your hero. The mission is to transport a magical egg to the end of a level, and then hatching it by completing a minigame.You acquire eggs from bosses and some missions. You can then play these with your hero character and unlock upgrades for your hero. After each mission is a rhythm mini-game that involves hitting the correct beat for Ka-ching. The better your score the better the reward will be when the egg hatches. The big rewards are masks for your hero. There are 4 per egg to acquire. If you don’t happen to have 3 friends you can play all these missions by yourself with the aid of 3 AI heroes. You can also acquire new heroes to help you by playing the missions. Acquiring newer masks for your hero will aid you in the story mode by allowing you to use them.
The Final Word
If you couldn’t tell by now Patapon 2 is definitely a must own for all PSP owners. Nearly all of the problems with the first game are fixed and all the additions to this iteration are pushing this series in the right direction. With added multiplayer, more than tripling the campaign, and all the new things added getting this for $20 is a steal.
– MonsterVine Rating: Excellent