I was excited at work today because we finally got our demos for Patapon. For those of you who don't know, this game comes from the creators of LocoRoco. Unfortunately I still need to get a copy of LocoRoco, but Patapon is looking like it will be another great title for the PSP.
This game is about a mighty society of people known as the Patapons. They were strong and prospered thanks to the leadership of the Great Patapon, which is essentially their God. By leading them with a magic drum, it instilled strength and vitality in the Patapons. There was no foe they could not overcome, no treasure out of reach. The story at the beginning also mentions them in search of something called IT. Yes, they are in search of IT. Who knows what that could be. I find it pretty hilarious myself. Anyways, over time the Patapons lost the guidance of the Great Patapon and lost their strength. Now you, as the Great Patapon, must use the rhythm to help bring their society back to its former glory.
In the demo you find out also that the Patapons are at war with a people called the Zigotons. Your early missions involve you first gathering food for the Patapons. Then next you must launch an attack against walls placed around the Patapon's city, Patapolis, which is guarded by the Zigotons. Patapon is a 2D game, but what makes it unique is that it's a rhythm action game. I suppose the only game that comes close by comparison would be DK Jungle Beat, but even that is a very loose at best. In the demo you only get you hands on some simple commands, I imagine there will be more in the rest of the game, but it's a good glimpse into it.
A beat plays in the background and you have to hit the face buttons on the PSP in a particular order in time to the music to command the Patapons to act. Square is the "Pata" and Circle is the "Pon" different combinations yield different results. "Pata Pata Pata Pon," for example, will advance your army. Meanwhile "Pon Pon Pata Pon" will command them to attack. It's a whole new take on fighting that I've never seen before. It's really very cool. Successfully issuing commands in succession will build combos, like most rhythm games. Once you reach a x10 combo your Patapons go into Fever mode where the music speeds up slightly so you can issue commands faster.
While the gameplay sounds simple, half the fun is in the presentation. Just like LocoRoco, this game is highly stylized. If you know me well enough then you'd know that styIe really scores major points with me, the quirkier the better. The look is very graphic, with great animation, is colorful, and overall very fun to watch. The characters are very simple in design, mostly just walking eyeballs, but they can be fairly expressive, and dare I say it, cute. Second is the music. Music is pivotal in rhythm games, and Patapon most certainly delivers. So far I have absolutely loved the soundtrack with ethnic drum-heavy beats that play well with the look and premise of the game and just sound fantastic overall. I also love how the Patapons will repeat back your series of drum hit commands after issuing them. It's great.
This game is also looking like it will also contain a decent amount of strategy to some degree. Before entering levels, you can set up your Patapon armies. While I only had one at my disposal, from what I could see you can configure three smaller groups at once. It's looking like you will have different Patapons to make up these groups and further still, you can change their armor and weapons for certain specialties. Again, this is some speculation since obviously not everything is open in the demo.
In the end I am even more excited about this title than I was before. I very much look forward to getting the full game and if you guys with PSPs get a chance, try to snag a demo if you aren't sold on it. Either way, it's fun and an awesome value since it will debut at an awesome price point of $20!