Review by Lawngahnome

"Innovative?.... Yes. Playable?...Barely"

So many reviewers have been rolling out the red carpet for Patapon, and let me tell you, I understand why. The game has several great, new, and innovative features, but it still has some glaring flaws that reduce the gameplay to pure aggravation.

First off, the game looks great. The little Patapons dance and sing, the back ground is colorful, and the animations are cute and silly beyond all reason. The music is also very infectious, and rather well arranged. Despite this, the game has two main flaws that successfully cripple the gameplay.

The main problem is RESOURCES. Anyone who has played a strategy game knows the importance of gathering resources to make units. In Patapon, the average unit costs 2 meat and 150 CaChing (money, I know cute name). To collect additional meat/CaChing, you have to go hunting. The average animal gives you one piece of meat, and 20 caching.... 20 WTF?!!! That means you need to kill 12 animals to make one basic unit! In the average hunting mission, you only encounter 7 animals, so you have to do 2 hunting missions to make 1 basic unit. To make matters even worse, in one of the later hunting grounds, some of the animals can fight back, and eat your units! In some of the harder boss battles, the bosses will eat your units. I once lost 5 units in one battle... that would take 10 hunting missions (about an hour) to rebuild my army... which is ridiculous. How is the player supposed to build an army if they are not given the resources to do so? The hunting levels often contain secrets that let you get extra money, but why should I have to find these secrets just to be able build more units? Why can't the animals just drop more CaChing? Why can't I sell my meat for extra CaChing?

The second problem is Beat VS Gameplay. You play the drums on a 4 - 4 beat, meaning you hit 4 buttons, you wait 4 beats, you hit 4 more buttons, etc. This can also be described as call/execute. You call a command, the Patapons execute it. However while you and your men are on a beat, the enemies are not. They move in real time. So if I am attacking an enemy castle or a boss, and I see the enemy preparing a really heavy attack, I issue my men a "dodge" command, but, crap, I wasn't fast enough, the command was not entered in time... Okay, so I try again, this time I start the "dodge" command one cycle early... all my men "dodge" out of the way, the run forward again... right into the enemy attack.... Since the enemy are not attacking on the same beat I am, how an I supposed to issue proper commands to my units? Seriously.

I started the game hoping these flaws would be fixed later in the game, but I played past the 6 hour mark, and the problems just got worse. Later in the game you get access to better meat/unit making materials, but they make your units cost up to 700 CaChing!!! Even if I found all the above mentioned secret areas in the hunting levels, they only give me about 200 CaChing... no where near enough to make one of these upper level units. Also bosses and enemies get more powerful, and have more instant kill attacks, but since they fight in real time, good luck dodging the attacks.

I have read other Patapon game reviews, and apparently, if you look past these glaring and crippling flaws, it is a good game... how you can look past a flaw like you-can't-dodge-boss-instant-kill-attacks, and you'll-spend-an-hour-playing-the-same-hunting-mission-to-get-a-Patapon-and-loose-him-in-the-next-battle... I don't really know.

Final Decision: Rent it, or buy it used from somewhere with a return policy. You may love it, or you may hate it.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 09/09/08

Game Release: Patapon (US, 02/26/08)

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