Saturday, July 23, 2011

REVIEW- Patapon 3

And yet another post that I should have written months ago while I was actively playing the game. Like with Terraria, I haven't actually beaten Patapon 3 yet, but I'm not going to mark this review with 'INCOMPLETE' because I have sunk a considerable amount of time into the game, and don't think that investing considerably more time to complete the game would particularly change my opinions. Also, when reading this review, keep in mind that Patapon 3 has a huge focus on playing the game multiplayer, but I've only played singleplayer. Anyway, here we go!

The long version:
Patapon is a strange series, and quite unlike anything else I've ever played, but in a good way. The Patapons are small black round blobs, and the player plays as their god. In Patapon 3, the story starts after all the Patapons have been turned to stone, and the player controls a small squad of Patapon champions (as well as the Uberhero, the manifestation of the player god) in hopes of undoing the curse. The gameplay is a mixture of rhythm games and RPG's, and the player commands his army of Patapons by drumming out an order according to the beat of the earth. Each order takes up one measure of four beats to input, and the Patapons follow the order during the next measure of four beats, after which the process repeats. With these commands, the Patapons will march forwards, attack nearby enemies, retreat temporarily, defend against attacks, and so on. Complete enough commands without missing a beat to enter fever mode, which boosts your troops' abilities.

By completing levels the Patapons earn experience and level up, unlocking new classes, class skills, and set skills along the way. Classes are unlocked in a method similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, where attaining a minimum level in various classes will unlock the next class. Class skills are passive, upgrading the abilities of the particular class (for example, the spear throwing class throws more spears), while set skills can be equipped to provide special abilities (such as generating a tailwind while in fever mode, useful for archer classes). Beating levels also earns the player new equipment, and materials with which equipment can be upgraded. In the first two games, the player commanded armies of Patapons, but in Patapon 3 you only control a small squad of five (Hatapon, who carries your flag, one Patapon from each of the three class trees, and your Uberhero).
Patapon exemplifies the easy to learn, hard to master ideal. Even though you only have eight commands to give, it takes a lot of practice to cut out wasted commands, such as attacking when the enemy is out of range, or marching into a wall that needs to be broken, and so on. Enemy attack patterns need to be learned, especially for the larger enemies that can wipe out your army with one blow. Fever mode is easy to enter, but also extremely easy to lose in hectic moments. Since Patapon 3 has more of a focus on multiplayer (where your generic Patapons are replaced with other player controlled Uberheroes), the level suggestion for levels in the game are typically a level or two below where you'll probably need to be in singleplayer, so grinding through previously beaten levels is a necessity. Leveling up is also specific to classes rather than characters (so you can have your Uberhero at level 20 in one class, but only level 10 in another), and some class skills can take a while to level up, so switching classes or mastering a class skill means even more grinding. It can definitely be frustrating, but I enjoyed the amount of customization offered, even if it was a little difficult to get used to at first.

Writing out the details of Patapon's system like that, it feels like I shouldn't enjoy it as much as I should. The gameplay is extremely enjoyable, but the amount of grinding required makes me reconsider why I like the game. I enjoy RPG's a lot, and Patapon has a very deep system, but grinding isn't good and the complexities make Patapon difficult to just pick up. The story is interesting but not the strong point of the game from what I've seen of it, plus it takes a while to gain the levels to get from one story mission to the next when just playing single player, so I'm not playing through the grinding for the sake of the story. So why do I play Patapon so much, and why do I like it so much?
The main thing that comes to mind is that Patapon just has a lot of charm. Every action the Patpons make is adorable, from plowing through hordes of enemies to diving for cover at a retreat command to dashing around in panic when set on fire, and they'll even dance and sing in response to the commands you give. The whole world of Patapon is just inherently silly (the game's currency is called 'Ka-ching', and the names of the Dark Heroes you encounter in the story include Naughtyfins, Standoffish Sonarchy, Gluttonous Buzzcrave, and Slow-moving Slogturtle), and the clash between the serious and silly (for example, your ridiculously epic Uberhero) makes it all the more entertaining. The music is great, and again the RPG system is deep and well done. It's hard to pin down the reason Patapon is fun much more than this, but basically I'm just saying that even with all the grinding that needs to be done, Patapon never got boring.

I don't have much more to say about Patapon, so I guess I'll wrap things up here. All in all, I highly recommend the series, it may be difficult to get into but it's well worth the effort.

Short and simple:
Patapon combines rhythm games with a deep RPG system allowing for a lot of customization. A lot of grinding is involved, but the world of Patapon is charming enough to keep players interested.
Pros: Easy to learn, hard to master rhythm based gameplay. Great RPG elements, world is simply charming and fun.
Cons: As mentioned before, there is a lot of grinding involved. Understanding the RPG system takes a little while too.

My 'Score': 21 (classes available in Patapon 3)

No comments:

Post a Comment