Good morning/afternoon/evening, all! Last week, I talked about why a simple game about graffiti matters.
Today, we'll look at a game that's a little sillier, and also one of the best games for the PSP.
Patapon came out in 2008 for PSP and was developed and published by Sony. It's difficult to place it in one genre, as it's a god game, strategy game, and rhythm game all at once. Let's start with what it's about.
Patapon tells you the story of the Patapon tribe, a group of small, one-eyed creature-things. (Remember Unown from Pokemon? You're about halfway there.) The Patapon have been cast out of their land by the evil Zigoton Army, and it's up to you, as the Almighty, to rally the Patapon and help them take back their home. It's a pretty neat, cute story, and you'll find yourself feeling for the little cyclopes.
So how do you lead these little warriors? With a drum.
See, you never show up on screen. You aren't playing as a "hero unit" or even an on-screen cursor. You play as...well, you. Cast in the role of the Almighty, your only method of communicating with the Patapon is a war drum. Which you control with the face buttons on the PSP. A four-count beat constantly plays through the levels, and you're tasked with playing the drum in time with the rhythm, using the PSP's face buttons.
You start off with the basic "Square-square-square-circle" combination, which makes the Patapon march forward, and "circle-circle-square-circle" which makes them attack. But you'll soon learn additional commands, like a defensive command and a retreat. Later, you get additional unit types, and you'll have to decide what types to bring to each mission. The game is deeper than it's cutesy, 2D exterior would have you believe.
The rhythm aspect, though, is probably the most important part. You don't have to be super great at rhythm games (for example, you don't have to be able to FC Jordan in Guitar Hero 2) (remember Guitar Hero?) but you do have to be able to keep up a 4-beat rhythm. Doing so-perfectly-puts you into fever mode, speeding up and strengthening your Patapon tribe. Plus, it's just fun as hell to do, as you hear your Patapon chant marching orders, chanting "PATA PATA PATA PON," in time.
Patapon's art style is just amazing, and if you've kept up with these GOTW articles I write, you know I love me some art. Like last week's game, Jet Set Radio, or this, or this. Patapon stands tall in the art department, featuring a cartoony, silhouette look. You can see in the screenshots, that there's an awful lot of black and white, particularly in the Patapon themselves, with other stark color contrasts appearing in the boss creatures. It's a deceptively simple look that helps the game stand out, even amongst it's PSP contemporaries like LocoRoco. The backgrounds are very expressive, too.
Patapon can be found at GameStop or Amazon for super cheap. Like, 3 bucks at GameStop. Pick it up if you still have your PSP lying around; the game's a joy to play, and there's two sequels too, both of which are just as enjoyable. Trust me, you'll fall in love with those little, unstoppable guys.
Hit the comments section for questions, comments, and future GOTW suggestions!
Also, you can tweet me now! Hit me up @WingZero351, you can suggest games there, or we can just chat!
Next week, I'm going to talk about the first game in the greatest game series of all time. It's my favorite series, anyway, and I'm a little surprised at myself for not covering it sooner. It's not as obscure as some of these games by half, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Even though it's dangerous to go alone.