I always meant to play Patapon 2. I was an early adopter of the PlayStation Portable, and the original Patapon was definitely a highlight of my time with that doomed piece or hardware – so it seemed like a no-brainer than I would immerse myself in the sequel soon enough. Sure, it’s 12 years late – but I have played Patapon 2, and enjoyed it.
Pon Pon Pata Pon
Sequels can be difficult – and in Patapon 2’s case it is a beautiful example of an iterative sequel, where the developers took the opportunity to tune what made the first game great, and fix whatever was less than stellar. Everything that players identified with previously is present within its charming and quirky gameplay, with a smattering of new features to distinguish itself from Patapon 1. The core of the gameplay is simple – you are some kind of percussion-based deity, inspiring your Patapons to march forward to battle by communicating to them via a four-button combination of beats. The sequence of these beats tell your minions what to do, whether they are advancing forward (PATA PATA PATA PON) or going on the attack (PON PON PATA PON). Once you hit your stride, you feel enveloped in a weird send/response trance, as your little Patapon friends mimic back what you tell them and spring into action. It is exceptionally simple gameplay, but deceptively deep when you start analysing it.
Chaka Chaka Pata Pon
From a remaster standpoint, it nails what someone would expect. The simplistic Japanese artstyle is beautifully crisp and animates incredibly fluidly – your little ‘Pon friends groove and march their way across the screen with vibrant colours intermixing the stark silhouettes of friend and foe alike. I questioned if the handheld nature of the original titles would diminish when blown up to a full console release, but I am relieved to be entirely wrong on that suspicion. Cutscene-wise, I was confused at how some cutscenes seemed to display with a lower fidelity – like they had been upscaled from the portable release, and not re-rendered at a higher resolution. It was grating when you’d then see a similar cutscene (it usually happened in tutorials) where effectively the same cutscene played out, but now with much crisper detail. It struck me as an oversight, and perhaps one that will be fixed in a future ‘polishing’ update.
The only real irksome note within the game is when you actually try and get into the beat of the game. When first playing the game on my TV, trying to hit the same tempo that the game demanded seemed to be impossible – I was flubbing and fumbling my PATAS and PONS like a madman. At first I chalked it up to my own ineptitude – it had been over a decade since I played a ‘Pon title – but soon it became hard to ignore. Eventually I came to realise that it was a matter of delay between the games audio reaching my ears. Whether it was just the distance between me and the TV (I was playing on a couch) or the actual output delay from the console to HDMI cable to TV speakers, I eventually changed to playing at my PC desk where a smaller TV was much closer, and found some proper success. It actually conjured a hazy memory of the utility present in Guitar Hero games, where you could calibrate some kind of understanding between your input latency versus the audio/visual element, and wish I had access to it for my lounge playing experience. I wanted to be a beatmaster, but I was more of a beatmasher on my lounge suite.
This is the definitive Patapon 2 experience. A truly unique gameplay concept that may not suit all tastes, but for any aspiring rhythm gods out there this is an addictive, solidly priced experience that is hard to pass up.
Reviewed on PS4 // Review code supplied by publisher