Apparently there’s well over twice as much content here as in the original, but you wouldn’t know to look at the screens and hear the same old PATA PATA PATA PON and PON PON PATA PON commands.
Everything you loved about Patapon is back – from the cute high-pitched voices to the lengthy boss battles that can sometimes take over ten minutes to win – only it doesn’t seem quite as charming and certainly not as fresh and original the second time around. You start to notice the things that ticked you off about the game before, such as the need to replay the same hunting missions over and over and over again, and you wonder why there isn’t a better system in place in the sequel to avoid this. It’s a real mystery.
The new content is really just a wider selection of items and resources to collect, which you put towards equipping your army, upgrading them and evolving them. As before, you need to choose the right type of Patapon for each mission and optimize their weapons and armor. Then, once in a mission, it’s all about switching commands and dropping in and out of the ability-boosting Fever mode to advance, retreat, defend and attack.
The customization is so deep and the tactical options so concentration-sapping that it’s misleading to believe Patapon 2 is a casual game just because of its graphics and the fact it’s based on rhythm action. You’ll hit a few brick walls until you take time to experiment with your troops and are prepared to advance through trial-and-error and even more hunting.
The only telling new feature is the introduction of a Hero Patapon who leads your troops into battle and is automatically revived if any of them are still alive. You can change their class, which determines whether they use a ranged or melee weapon and therefore alters their special ability. For example, a Yaripon Hero’s Iron Fist ability causes damage over a wide area, making him useful against enemy structures. A Hero’s special ability is only triggered if you get perfect on any chant apart from PATA PATA PATA PON while in Fever mode.
With over 100 missions and 22 bosses, there are definitely hours and hours of gameplay to soak up. The first few missions drag when you need to keep hunting and slowly evolving your Patapon into a substantial force, but after this the game just keeps opening up with new items and Hero classes to experiment with. There isn’t quite enough new stuff to convince fans of the first game to shell out again, though seasoned Patapon players looking for a new challenge might get something out of it.
Mar 9, 2009