PSP marches to the beat of a different drum and no other game illustrates that more than Patapon 3.
Less a full sequel than an extension of the previous game, new elements have been overlooked in favour of more content. Patapon 3 does nothing to mess with the rhythmic action of the previous two games, relying instead on the quirkiness of its musical gameplay to justify a third outing.
The face buttons once again serve as drums, with each button sounding a particular tone. 'Chaka,' 'pon,' 'don,' and 'pata' are tied to Triangle, Circle, X, and Square respectively. Instructing your cute army of characters to move and act involves tapping out a measure using these beats: for example, moving forward means tapping 'pata, pata, pata, pon,' or Square, Square, Square, Circle.
It's a mechanic unchanged from the last two Patapon games. A helpful bar along the bottom of the screen lists the various commands that can be entered, ensuring that if you've forgotten any of the basics you can glance below to get your bearings.
Testing these commands out was tough given the limited demo that provided access to just one co-op level entitled 'Field Quest.'
Unfortunately, the adjacent units weren't connected wirelessly and attempting the stage solo meant facing an overwhelming army of Bonedeth and Cyclops forces. It wasn't the best choice of stages to show off Patapon 3, particularly since it keeps much of the single-player campaign in the dark.
Across both single-player and multiplayer modes, you have access to equipment loadouts to boost attack and defence ratings for your hero units, as well as class-specific skills. As you complete levels and earn experience, you're able to acquire new skills along class lines.
The balanced Taterazay class, for instance, comes with a mix of offensive and defensive abilities unlocked via a evolution tech tree.
Jamming (buttons) to the oldies
None of these features are new to Patapon 3, though. The previous instalment introduced co-operative multiplayer and skill trees, while the first game allowed equipment customisation. In the admittedly short amount of time I spent with the game, I couldn't identify a single improvement or new feature.
This isn't to say Patapon 3 won't be enjoyable - the stylish presentation and catchy beats are unquestionably charming - yet a deeper look at the single-player game is needed to better understand what it brings to the series. Until then, I'll be keeping my excitement at bay.