Console: PSP Handheld System
Price: $19.99 USD
Genre: Rhythm-Real Time Side-Scrolling Strategy
First and foremost, a lot of people will possibly say "what the hell is a rhythm real time side scrolling strategy game?" And all I can do is point at Patapon and say "another name for awesome".
The premise of the game is rather simplistic in design but gets to the point and doesn't break from the formula as it goes along. It consists of the exiled Patapon Tribe (the armed to the teeth tribe of bipedal eyeballs...yes, bipedal eyeballs) by the evil Zigoton Army (Red Square Eyeball People) in search for their great Earthend, a promised land for the Patapon tribe (Think of it as Jerusalem to the Jewish people in the tale of Moses.) and are willing to vanquish giant monsters and the Zigoton Army that stands between them. You play the role of the Great Patapon, the godlike being from the heavens that lead the Patapon to victory with your ferocious drum beating rhythms.
The graphics are fairly simplistic, yet the manner they're design make them actually work. Colorful in areas followed by the classic backdrop characters (and the Patapons themselves) of coloration of prime monochrome features with attacks and other things of other colors. The semblance to the strange, yet addicting LocoRoco is obviously present as the same design team that made the previous game did this one as well. Cutsie and still strangely gratifying, the animations are not as rigid as you'd think. Advanced cell animations would prove to seem as if they're drawn in a java format to make a two-dimension movement more fluid as the cells are capable of fluid bending. The manner of how the game is finds these graphics quite suitable and gives it an unique feel to it entirely.
Much like LocoRoco, there is a lot of gibberish as spoken dialog but not as harsh as The Sims. As well, there is a lot of sing along or in this game's sense, chant along. The atmospheric music and sound effects do what they're suppose to do, nothing really stand out on negative or positive level when it comes to individual sound effects. This isn't a good or bad thing, but the sound effects blend in and you focus on the best thing, the music. This being a rhythm game would mean that the entire music line is interactive and it most definitely is. I will explain this in the next section. The music fits the mood of the game, giving it a psuedo-tribal feel moving onwards into great directions as you progress.
Concept and Playability:
This is where it gets fun, a lot of people ask what the hell is rhythm real time strategy game; the entire actual core of the game involving the actual exploration and combat relies on this. The game uses the four buttons ( X, O, Triangle and Square) to do this. Usually involving a chain series of these buttons, for example Square, Square, Square, X gives the Patapon army to move forward. This being a beat game, you need to keep one, so you're always actively doing combinations of rhythms to keep things moving. The higher the chain, the more efficient your Patapons are in the field. Which in turn, when battles become far more large scale, does in fact get frantic. You need to keep your cool at all times when doing this. Outside of actual fighting, you have the "tribal meet" as I'd like to call it to go about. From the main area to hear about rumors, moving over with either L or R shoulder button, you can do things like examine your spoils of war, revive/make new units and go out on missions.
There seems to be only two types of actual missions aside from story progression and troop acquirement. That of hunting and that of land expansion. Both of them are quite interesting and neat, as hunting is required to get new troops, increase your stock, and revive fallen troop. Before every battle (regardless of what type) you can assort your usable troops, you can position which part of the platoon you command you want said troops and finally, you can equip them with new gear you've acquired. Now the actual customization usually goes around the concept of armor and weapons of what they carry. Seeing as you each equip individual troop in each part of squads of your platoon, you will be bouncing gear back and forth ever so often until you acquire enough to go about. Don't worry though, they will always start out with basic gear. Combat is handled the same way as exploration which makes it quite interesting as you bounce in different constant beats.
Now on to the negative things. The only real negative thing I have here is the fact the hunting missions are all the same and get repetitive, other then that, no complaints. The system format is quite tight and responsive to the rhythm button pressing. Another some might find annoying is the fact the game doesn't support any multiplayer at all either.
For such a low, easy to afford price for gaming, this game will hold your attention for quite a while with it's nice unique format, easy to play method and the constant feel of being involved in a new way of a RTS that doesn't involve a simple point and click mechanism. Aside from the two negative things I mentioned above, this is a worthy title you cannot afford to miss for your PSP collection.
I give it a 9.5 out of 10 on my rating.