|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Pyramid / Interlink||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 5, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
April 24, 2009 - It's happened again. Somehow Sony has managed to get the pon-pon-pata-pon drum sounds back in my head, and now I can't get rid of them. It was tough enough to leave the drumming echoes from the first game behind, and now Patapon 2 is coming, ready to bring the fever to us all over again.
They say it's better late than never, and even though we've had the demo in our hands for a while, we haven't taken the chance to share our thoughts with you so you can get ready for the next installment. Patapon was one of our favorite handheld games last year, so to see it come back, revamped and with multiplayer gameplay is definitely a treat. With drumming sounds and everything, Patapon is an experience that's worthwhile and incredibly rewarding, especially if you're into the rhythm game vibe.
Patapon is not a Guitar Hero knock-off or anything like that. Patapon is a cute tribe of one-eyed warriors looking to reach Earth End by marching at full force. If you follow the rhythm properly, you'll be able to lead them through the sound of your drumbeats. Different combinations will have different effects. For example, hitting Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon makes them march forward, Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon encourages them to attack, and Chaka-Chaka-Pata-Pon will put them on defense mode, while still attacking the enemy the best they can. Patapon 2 includes a couple more combinations and miracles that didn't exist in the first game.
As you know, drumming sounds are achieved by hitting the face buttons in a four-drumbeat sequence. If you perform these sequences properly, the Patapons will enter Fever mode with strengthened attacks and defense. Additionally, in Patapon 2, if you are able to hold the Fever status long enough, the "hero" will come to assist you with even stronger attacks. He's not available from the start, but he'll play a major role in the game. I really enjoyed this addition, as his bright green spear seems to be very effective!
Another great thing about Patapon 2 is that it's backwards compatible. After the introduction to the new story and the first cutscene, you'll be asked if you want to transfer data from the previous game. If you do so, you'll have access to your old inventory as well as certain army upgrades. You still have to pay for them, but at least they'll be within reach quite early, rather than making you wait until you advance further in the game. Granted, there will be a lot more to find and unlock in this new title, as it includes 500+ items and three new warrior classes.
Just like in the previous installment, by putting together effective army deployments, you'll be able to take your Patapons hunting, upgrade their fighting skills, pick up special items, evolve them, and ultimately battle your way to the end. Many dangers await, including a familiar foe, Dodonga the dragon. He's not very tough to beat at first, but he sure evolves! He'll be one of the bosses you'll be able to fight at your leisure in order to become stronger and obtain rewards. However, Patapon 2 contains 22 bosses, so you'll have plenty of "love" to share.
I found many of the new additions to be very exciting, and they make a lot of sense. For example, the way you evolve your Patapons (once you find the Bud of Mater and restore the Tree of Life) is more advanced. There's a timeline that shows the possible evolution of your tribe members, and it offers a few different paths that will make your Patapons stronger in some ways and more vulnerable in others. This furthers the already-existing RPG vibe of the series. But, don't worry - Patapon never makes you waste too much time on inventory management and the likes. Being able to optimize your army with the new weapons you pick up with the hit of a button is a good way to handle things if you're not really into the whole equip/unequip deal.
Oh! Another thing I didn't mention yet that makes me really happy is the option to change the difficulty settings. You can pick between Easy, Normal, and Hard. This is such a relief for me, since I appear to be rhythmically impaired, just like the game says when you select Easy mode (you should see me playing Rhythm Heaven!). If you're not a Patapon veteran, you should probably start in Easy mode, as the game is much more forgiving, while still holding plenty of challenge. You can change the difficulty setting at anytime, so, as you gain confidence, you can move on to Normal mode, and eventually Hard, if you have the guts.
The game is looking as good as the first one, full of bold colors and cute little characters created by the artist Rolito. Some of the backgrounds seem more detailed and vibrant, as opposed to the more standardized look of the first game. As far as sounds, you've basically heard it all. It sounds very similar to the first title, though for some reason I seem to pick up on the rhythm a little better than the first time around. One thing that drives me crazy is, once the Patapons enter Fever mode, they start singing a little differently and sometimes make me lose concentration. But hey, that's where the challenge is at, right? If you're good, you're good, and if you have problems with following the pace, I guess you'll need to improve! Or I need to improve...
It looks like Patapon 2 will be a worthwhile upgrade, plus the inclusion of multiplayer modes makes it very enticing. With all these changes, I'm liking Patapon 2 more and more, and I just can't wait to get my hands on the finished copy, as it'll be packed-full with new missions (80+), bosses, weapons, and mini-games that will surely keep us all busy for a while. Patapon will hit U.S. shores on May 5th, but you may not need to run to the store, because you can just download it from the PlayStation Store. Or you can also go to your local retailer and buy a code to download it. The fact that it won't be released on UMD is strange, but perhaps they're testing the waters to see what would happen if the PSP 2 worked through download-only. Hmmm... we'll have to wait and see.
CCC Site Director