|Release: April 12, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence|
The gameplay itself has gotten some changes as well. Most gamers, I think, are familiar with the Patapon formula at this point, but it bears repeating. The four face buttons are different "drums" that make unique noises (Pata, Don, Chaka, and Pon). You string those sounds into four-beat songs that instruct the patapons in your army on what to do. Want them to attack? Pon Pon Pata Pon! Want them to retreat? Chaka Chaka Pata Pon! There are many different songs to choose from based on what's best at that specific time. If you keep up the beat and don't miss anything, then you'll go into "fever" mode, which amplifies their abilities.
Patapon 3's biggest success is that it introduces some new gameplay into the stalling franchise. Without giving too much away, one such game has the player competing against the computer in a tug of war-style game. The two armies clash and fight for position on a 2D battlefield. If you push the army back you can gain locations on the battlefield that give you points towards victory. Those points also spout cannons that help you defend that position. These kinds of new gameplay varieties are most welcome, and really help keep the experience fresh.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the new visual style Patapon has adopted. New players won't notice, but veterans will see how far the series has strayed from its original awesome art. At first Patapon was what we'd call minimalist. It was almost entirely black and white with orange backgrounds. The result of that was that it made even the tiniest bit of color stand out. When you got a neat piece of gear or special Patapon, it looked amazing by contrast. By the end of the game your army was shimmering. It was a fantastic technique. In Patapon 3, the game is pretty, but color is everywhere. It's visually pleasing, but it loses everything that its predecessor gained by being restrained.
The audio remains great however. The restraints have been nearly entirely lifted on how close you need to be to "on rhythm" to continue the song. Previous games were very strict and a momentary lapse of concentration could cause you to fail. Patapon 3 is much easier in that regard. Plus the game does an even better job of letting you know that you're off rhythm. Subtle sound changes in the drums hint that you're not quite on the beat.
Overall it's hard to say that this new direction is a positive one for Patapon. Again, I'd like to stress that if you're a fan of the series, there's no reason to shy away from this game. It's a cheap ($20) game with an awesome formula, but that doesn't mean it stacks up to the original games. The big question here is whether you're a Pata-veteran or a newcomer.
If you're new to the series, you definitely want to start at the beginning. The gameplay is almost unchanged, and it's a far better, more immersive game. If you're veteran, then you'll be able to look past some of the annoying window-dressing in order to get to the thankfully largely unchanged core gameplay.
The question of whether Patapon 3 is a good game is largely a question about the process of reviewing a video game. If you're looking for advice on whether this game will give you your money's worth: yes, it will. If you're concerned with the craft of making games and iterative design, then Patapon 3 is an almost complete failure whose only successes are carried over from past games.
CCC Contributing Writer