So, Patapon 2 is Sony’s big UMD-less release. Since we got an early copy, I thought it would be cool to talk (briefly) about how you go about getting the game on your PlayStation Portable. It’s quite simple, really.
Patapon 2 (PSP)
Patapon 2’s story is zany, if not completely ridiculous. You’re a god who is praised and revered by the game’s mini-protagonists, the Patapon. Your objective -- and really, it’s the curious creatures’ will -- is to lead an army of these pocket monsters to a magical place called Earthend. Many enemies and obstacles, big and small, will block your path and slow your progress. But clearing these impediments doesn’t require tactical genius. All you need to do is feel the rhythm, and, uh, an affection for upgrading.
A couple notes on similarity and difference: Patapon 2 stays true to its source material. The progression for both levels and troops is handled in the same manner. The art design appears identical, and the game’s quasi-tactical combat is largely left alone in this installment. Adjustments have been made, of course, but they’re extremely subtle ones -- the kind that you don’t write home about. The tweaks and miniscule additions have made Patapon 2 a better game than its predecessor, but you’re still getting the same core experience wrapped in all the old frustrations and bliss.
If you’re down with the game’s groove and you’re hitting the beat perfectly, you’ll be rewarded with Fever mode, which makes the attacks and defense of the Patapon stronger. Let’s not piddle around here: the biggest key to success in the game is keeping Fever mode going throughout the entire level. The game expects you to be able to manage this feat. Difficulty is adjusted accordingly.
One thing that does help is the Hero unit, completely new to Patapon 2. This guy is capable of unleashing massive destruction when the Fever gauge is at its highest point. They’re also very durable and respawn after being knocked out of the fight. It gives a face to your army, almost literally. The Hero unit can don “masks,” which turn it into any type of troop in your army, be it archer, spearman, clubber, or cavalry.
The thing that keeps me from gushing over Patapon 2 is the blurry line between victory and defeat. Boss battles are always harder than the previous level -- one that you probably breezed through. But every once in a while, the game throws in a particularly challenging confrontation. At this point you’re expected to replay levels for hours and collect items needed for upgrades. In other words, you’ll be spending numerous boring hours rehashing old content.
Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
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