Saturday, April 5, 2008

Patapon: electronic drum circle


If you haven't heard yet, Patapon is a very unusual and addicting combination of a rhythm game and an SRPG. Think Fire Emblem meets Rock Band, but only with fewer buttons and no clunky peripherals. Like a drum circle on a college campus, the rhythms are strangely addicting and somehow draw you in, hyponitic and inviting, primal and exciting. But, unlike a drum circle, there are no smells of unclean hippies and 'art students' to have to struggle through.

To continue this weak analogy to its end, this game is as polished and clean as you could hope for with simple and addicting gameplay somewhat like a puzzle game. The battle system is based on tapping out rhythms using the face buttons and then your Patapon army reacts accordingly, depending on what kind of combinations you use. Being a big Fire Emblem fan, I enjoy a good SRPG and also being a Rock Band fan, I like the simplicity of a rhythm game, so I had a feeling this would be up my alley, especially when Shane Bettenhausen of 1UP talked so highly of it and we seem to have some of the same tastes when it comes to RPG's.

When you are not in battle, you reside in the Patapon village, which allows you to create new Patapons of differing types as well as a host of other features. One standout is that unlike the first Fire Emblem for the GBA, you control where you want to go on the map, allowing you to repeat hunting missions to build you army if you aren't tough enough to take on the task, or if you want some time to get use to new Patapon commands. It's this small sense of freedom that adds a seriously important +1 to the game.

I've only put in about 2 hours of play and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's fun and fairly simple tactically at the beginning, while still being enjoyable, which is a hard balance to strike.

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