|Patapon bears a lot of similarities to the PSP's Loco Roco (see entry 1192): had lots of hype, sports cute characters rendered in bouncy 2D vector graphics, and boast a unique gameplay experience. Whereas Loco Roco was kind of a platformer, Patapon is kind of a rhythm game; however, it shares yet another similarity with Loco Roco: the gameplay is weak.|
In Patapon you build up a little army of cute eh Patapons, who march along gaily slaying their enemies--but only in time to a beat. You have to provide the beat by tapping out various specified four-beat sequences with the PSP's face buttons; as far as I got, I'd learned three: march, attack, and defend.
So you sit there incessantly repeating these few four-button sequences in time to the overall beat sound while your Pataponians beat up on very similar-looking enemy things. They also smash walls sometimes. The Patapons and enemies do a lot of talking in cute little speech bubbles, but these get repetitive fast. Each level usually has some scripted sequence to vary things up a bit, like a particularly tough bad guy, or an ally who comes along sporting a new weapon. This doesn't really change what you're doing, though, which is, again, tapping out one of those few four-button patterns over and over and over. There's a lot of animation of little dudes throwing spears at each other and dying and stuff, but that's all the game playing itself; ALL you do is tap the four-button patterns again and again and again.
That gets dreary and tedious, but what actually makes it infuriating is that once you've successfully done ten in a row without flubbing it, your army goes into FEVER mode where they're supposedly much more effective. The problem is that THE BEAT STOPS for some significant fraction of the four-beat meter--I mean that the sound that you've been following the whole time and basing your button presses on just stops while the FEVER jubilee plays. In theory you can just keep time in your head and tap through it, but almost invariably the FEVER celebration and beat stoppage throws me off, and I promptly lose my chain, and FEVER ends immediately after it began. It's true that I suck at rhythm games, but the fact that the celebration of you sticking to the beat actually interrupts the beat--yet the game is still holding you to it--is just really, really aggravating, and definitely didn't need to have been done this way.
Another annoying thing is that there's a lot of mumbling around and managing your army in between stages, in a series of little campground screens you scroll through with the shoulder buttons. There's resource management, so if you want a soldier of type x (like a spearman, axeman, bowman, etc), you have to spend x money, y of resource a, and z of resource b. The resources are scooped up more or less automatically as you go through a stage, although there's also at least one aggravating rhythm minigame in campground mode that you can use to swap one resource type for another--it's aggravating because you're supposed to mimic the beat of what a giant tree is saying, but what he's saying doesn't seem to sound out in any audible beat--maybe I'm simply tone-deaf--and it's hard to tell how many you're getting on-beat anyway since the tree is just jerking around the whole time, whether you're getting it or not.
Anyway, resource management in a rhythm game isn't something I look forward to, so I didn't really bother and just kept going on ahead--until I got to a hot desert level that just burned my army to death, anyway. When that happens, you have to grind a resource-gathering level repeatedly to regain money and items to build your army back up. Excuse me, but there is no way in hell I am going to sit there tapping out those same damn four-button combos over and over and over just to rebuild my little army of ant men who blather the same annoying things over and over, and will probably just burn to death on the same level again.
So that's that.