Pata- Pata- Pata- Pon!

I'm a mere 2 missions away from ending my divine link with the Patapon tribe. Short of a brain-stopping revelation in the final chunk of the game, I have a few final thoughts. I love my divine association with the Patapons. The game could easily have had no narrative link between me and them, with the drums being just a random rhythm-based game mechanic. But from the second I loaded up the game, I knew that the drums were divine instruments, the Patapons worshipped me, and I was a god with the power of life and death in my hands. To some degree, I really wanted to feel responsible for my Patapons, and my heartstrings were tugged in multiple directions as I struggled to find my way through the opening stages. But as I found my groove and helped my Patapons triumph over those dastardly Zigatons, I couldn't help but feel proud to have led my tribe away from the brink of extinction.

I have even had a vision that the Patapons actually reside inside the PSP. Despite being a mortal human for as long as I can remember, to the minuscule Patapons, I am someone to worship. And that unabashedly makes me stand a bit taller. If the 4 drums in the game are literally the face buttons on the PSP, then is it such a stretch to imagine that by inserting the game disc I activated their latent power? ; )

Much like the best portable games, Patapon has that addicting pick-up-and-play, just one more mission feeling that makes you completely lose track of time. Each battle is short, just a few minutes, and loading times are minuscule. In the beginning, I found it very helpful that the loading screens were covered with truly helpful game hints. These were often either things I didn't know at all, or things I had forgotten from the manual.

I'm rarely impressed by the attempted photo-realism of many current console games, so Patapon's art style feels perfect for me. But even beyond that, the minimalist style also warranted some unique graphical flourishes. The background has subtle wisps of wind that indicate whether your arrows will fly far and true or come up short. Even though I lack direct control of my troops, enemies are easily marked as "in range" by a change to the squinting, focused glare of my soldiers.

Sure, I wish some of the battles against the Zigaton army were replayable, instead of just the boss battles. And it's initially confusing to know which level of upgrade is the best for a given unit. But these small criticisms are greatly outclassed by the joy that is to be had in guiding my Patapon army across a desert, through swamps, and through the carcasses of numerous and diverse foes. If you have a PSP and haven't played Patapon, and are bemoaning the lack of announced PSP games for the future, you're doing a great disservice to both yourself and the game industry. Go get it. Now.

No comments: