And our attempt at a cliché-full review.
This game is a lot of fun...
Pata pata pata pon...
You get small soldiers, make them run...
Pata pata pata pon...
Errr... Something else that's nice and rhythmic;
...I'm not a lyricist, leave me alone...
Patapon on the PSP, and yet another reason to pick up Sony's little handheld that could. But is it any good? Yes, yes it is.
I'm aware already made out that it's worth picking up before asking that question, but I just read this article on GameSpot and it's made me want to include as many of the clichés as possible. Take THAT, Kyle Orland! Yeah, fight the power.
This game does not have realistic graphics (scratch number 6 off the list), unless you live in a world of cartoons and beautiful little well-defined characters, it most certainly is quirky (there goes 5), fans of fun will enjoy it (a double whammy of 4 and 1 there), but will it sell? Only time will tell (there goes 3!).
Okay, enough with the silliness. Patapon is a lovely little rhythm action game that sees players taking control of tiny eyeball armies as they go around fighting, reducing things to rubble and hunting, as well as drinking and partying like made little buggers. It's really good fun (1), and achieves this through a startlingly simple method - you simply input drum beats to the rhythm of the flashing screen, with different combinations of beats having different effects. Square, square, square, circle (pata-pata-pata-pon), for example, moves your troops forward.
Obviously you learn more commands as the game progresses - attack, defend, retreat etc. - and these each use different combinations of the face buttons. It's very simple, and any fears that combinations will be hard to remember fall flat when you realise that the beats are coded into your subconscious as soon as you've carried them out one or two times. It's a kind of brainwashing, come to think of it...
Just as Loco Roco was an insanely cute and simple game employed perfectly on the system it was designed for, so is Patapon. It's no surprise it was made by the same team as Loco and the whole thing just oozes with the charm you would expect from a very genuine, totally non-cynical piece of work. It's impossible not to love it, just as it's impossible not to tap your feet or nod your head along with the beat.
As much as this may make you look like a berk on the train (to those of you who saw me on the 1330 from Leeds to Liverpool the other week - I am not mental. I was playing Patapon). I can't exactly say it's refreshing to feel like this about a game, because Loco Roco did the exact same thing - it's still nice though. Gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside and induces involuntary smiling.
There are bad points: it isn't the longest of games, it costs £25 when it's supposed to be a budget release and the repetition of hunting levels can get a bit old - in fact it's the closest you get to cynicism with the game. But these are moot points when you look at the whole package - it's a game that will appeal to all and has the same effect that Loco Roco and Parappa the Rapper had on me, making it one that I'm sure to reference in polite conversation for a long time to come.
Either that or I'll just sit on a lonely train carriage screaming "PON PON PATA PON!" until they come to take me away.