Pata Pata Pata Pon! Pon Pon Pata Pon! Chaka Chaka Pata Pon! Pon Pata Pon Pata! These words won’t mean much to you now, but after 15 minutes in the charming company of LocoRoco-meets-Rome-Total-War-hybrid Patapon, you’ll find yourself chanting them in public. Once the tribal beats get in your head, they refuse to budge.
The game is essentially a test of your ability to correctly press a handful of pre-defined button combinations in time to a four-four beat. There’s one combo to advance your Patapon army from left to right, another to attack structures and enemies, a third combo to defend and a fourth to retreat.
What at first seems like a simple rhythm action game soon develops into a surprisingly in-depth strategy game. The most important thing is timing - when to advance, attack, defend and retreat, especially during the tough boss fights - all the while keeping the rhythm combos going so that you can enter Fever mode and temporarily become a killing machine. You must also master tricky element chants to bring about ‘miracles’, for example creating rain to cool a scorching desert terrain that fries the Patapons alive.
Apart from the main action, Patapon is about resource management, with items collected either during battle or by playing bonus minigames used to create and upgrade specialist units such as archers and axe-wielders. You can also equip these units with over 100 different types of weapons and shields and place them at the front, back or middle of the marching army to get the best out of them. There’s a hell of a lot to consider, and our only quibble is the vast amount of times that you’ll need to replay missions to unlock necessary items and new levels. Still, when you have a game that’s this fresh and addictive, you don’t really mind retracing your steps.
Once you try Patapon, you won’t be able to put it down. It’s massively addictive and soon you’ll be chanting on the street with the rest of us.
Feb 19, 2008