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PSP  header logo

Patapon 3

For: PSP

Losing its rhythm?

Product: Patapon 3 | Developer: Pyramid | Publisher: Sony Europe | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1-8 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
 
Patapon 3 PSP, thumbnail 1

One of the most original games on the PSP, Patapon stood out thanks to its utterly charming art style and bizarre rhythm-action gameplay.

It’s sequel, however, was derided as sullying the series a little, needlessly over-complicating the intoxicating simplicity of the first game. Unfortunately, Patapon 3 is more like the sequel than the original.

Instead of being a quirky delight, the series has now swung entirely in the other direction – Patapon 3 is an occasionally bewildering and hard as nails adventure that’s made purely for existing fans of the franchise.

Patap-onslaught

The central rhythm-based gameplay, which involves moving a mini army from left to right (occasionally vice-versa) in 2D stages, remains the same.

You indirectly control an army of four Patapon with a list of commands such as 'attack', 'move forward', and 'defend'.

You do this by bashing out four button sequences in time to the background beat, with the Triangle, Square, Circle, and Cross the only controls used. Square-Square-Square-Circle, for example, makes your troops move forward. 

Not missing a beat allows you to build up your Fever meter, which you can then use to summon up huge attacks.

Levels themselves are fairly straightforward, usually involving just destroying all the enemies, big and small, in your path, making sure at least one member of your battalion survives (preferably the main hero of your group).

Dungeons with multiple levels and a capture-the-flag style stages add a little bit of variety, but battling makes up the main meat of the game.

Pata-pondering your options

You’ll find that the real depth comes away from the battlefield, though.

There’s a dizzying range of options in the game's main hub, where you can change the skills of each of your four Patapon, buy new battle gear, and generally be bombarded with statistics and flow charts.

Each of the many elements involved in building your squad is divided into individual sections, but no attempt is made to explain anything. 

Instead, the game cruelly sits back and lets you struggle to grasp the reams of jargon and character ability diagrams.

This wouldn’t be so bad, but later missions in particular demand that you tailor your army to have any chance of surviving.

Even then, the tedious process of grinding and levelling up your Patapon by playing the same stages ad infinitum can seem the only way to progress.

Patap-online

Fortunately, incredibly complex customisation options and a sky high difficulty level aren’t the only things to have been added to this threequel.

The main additions are competitive and co-operative online modes, which are a welcome distraction when the single-player modes begin to frustrate. Which they inevitably will.

Although the co-operative missions are the same as the ones from the solo campaign, levelling up is still less of a chore when you’ve got human back-up.

In comparison, the additions made in the single-player are much less noticeable – but there is definitely more variety and content in the main campaign than the previous two games. Even if the difficulty has been bolstered to match.

Done no Pata-wrong?

Regardless of its many mis-steps, Patapon 3 offers you enough reminders of why the first entry in the series was so remarkable.

The thick black edged art style is still wonderfully effective, and the rhythm-based action can pull you into a trance in an instant.

The high difficulty can make defeating that final foe in each level a far more satisfying experience as well. 

You could argue that the game dilutes these qualities with its drive to complicate, but this is probably what most fans wanted from the game anyway.

Being the third entry in any series an increased level of difficulty is probably to be expected. It’s just a shame that in the process, a little more of the original’s magic has died.

 
Patapon 3
Reviewer photo
Simon Reed | 11 May 2011
The most fully featured and deepest entry in the Patapon series so far, but definitely not the most fun or accessible
 
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