The sounds of war are once again emanating from the world of Patapon. This time, the Patapon have journeyed from their home, across the majestic sea only to be attacked by a kraken. The kraken defeats the Patapon, leaving them to wash ashore onto an unfamiliar land. During their journey, they’ll fight large enemies, go up against mysterious tribes, and they’ll do it all to the sounds of the war drums.
The question is: Will this journey be any fun?
Patapon 2 is a music-based strategy game where the player issues commands to their units by playing a specific beat. To issue a “March Forward” command, you would need to press Square, Square, Square, Circle (or a PATA PATA PATA PON command). To issue an attack command, Circle, Circle, Square, Circle is the set of beats necessary. There are a number of commands the player will learn during the game, some of which require to dig up jujus. Jujus are power-ups players can equip their army with in order to perform miracles. Is your adventure taking you across a hot desert? So hot that it’s damaging your units? Simply perform the rain juju and you’ll be able to cross the desert without a problem.
The game is forgiving if you’re not exactly on time with the beat. Although, the more precise you’re on the beat, the more combos you’ll get, and the quicker you’ll be able to trigger FEVER mode. In FEVER mode, your Patapons’ attack and defense are raised. If you plan on making the most out of the FEVER mode, you’ll need to be precise with your key presses as the game warns you when you are slightly off beat. If you are able to match the following beat precisely, you’ll continue in FEVER mode. If not, then you’ll lose your FEVER mode and you’ll then need to build up your combos again.
One major difference between the original game and Patapon 2 is the ability to create a more diverse army. You can create Patapons that can be spearrmen, archers, or even big, hulking Patapons that are made for all out offense. You are then able to upgrade your units up to level 5 in their current role, but you can also evolve the Patapon unit into more diverse Patapon units by way of the evolution map. These further evolved units vary in their strengths and weaknesses, so the player needs to be wise with their decision on how to upgrade their Patapons as you cannot retract the resources you spend to evolve your Patapons. Patapon 2 also introduces the Hero character, which can take the form of any class you have successfully researched in the game. The Hero also has a special attack that can be triggered if you time your commands perfectly four consecutive times. It may be a little tricky to perform the hero’s special attack, but it became easier for me the longer I played the game.
You equip your units with new armor and weapons as you progress through the game. You can either mix and match any armor and weapon, or you can let the game do the work for you and allow it to optimize your units. I found the game was more rewarding when I took the time to upgrade all of my units personally, but it’s good that the game allows both casual and hardcore players to make the most of their experience.
You would think a game whose focus is based on rhythm-based inputs would have an amazing soundtrack, right? Well, consider that another great thing about Patapon 2. The game’s music really brings you into the game. The Patapons’ also respond to the rhythm of the music with chanting and sometimes singing. You can begin to understand what is going to happen or what just occurred simply by their singing queues. Another addition I enjoyed was at the beginning of a stage, you are told the name of the map and the name of the song playing in the background. There have been times that I actually became excited seeing a battle I was about to take part in would have one of my favorite tracks playing, which would then help me in battle.
Patapon 2 also introduces a multiplayer mode, which allows you to take your Hero character and play with up to 4 people locally. It would have been great if the game had online multiplayer, as finding anyone within your local vicinity with a copy of Patapon 2 could pose more of a challenge than the actual multiplayer component. When you do find someone with Patapon 2, the experience could be mixed as playing with someone in your imediate vicinity can pose a challenge if everyone is playing without headphones. Hearing the different beats aside from yours can be a bit distracting. If everyone plays with headphones, then you’re playing with your friends but aren’t able to share in the experience as you’re so focused on the game.
FINAL WORD: Patapon 2 is a fine sequel to an already amazingly unique experience. The gameplay mechanics, graphics, and soundtrack have held true to the original game’s style, which is what makes both games not only fantastic works of art, but they’re fun, interactive works of art.