Patapon Remastered Review: The tiny drums of war

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A million years ago back in in 2008, Patapon was one of the only killer apps for Sony’s PSP made by a first party developer (that wasn’t called LocoRoco or Wipeout).

If you never bothered to invest in either JapanStudio’s rhythmic RTS or Sony’s handheld console, you’re in luck because Sony recently decided to sling Patapon onto the PS4. For a game that was banged out in 2008, it’s held up remarkably well.

This is true, incidentally, even though Patapon Remastered is about as bare bones as ports can get. There are no added extras, no new levels and no bonus content. It’s just the core game that presumably has been given a couple of tweaks in the graphics department so it can run on a PS4.

The good news is that the core game is – and was – superb. For those who’ve never played or even heard of Patapon, here’s the juice: once upon a time a tribe of adorable eyeballs with legs and arms called the Patapon reigned supreme. The tribe then fell on hard times and was relegated to the minor leagues.

Enter the player – you – who is worshipped as a god (and come on, any game in which you start off as god can’t be bad). Your job is to help the Patapon lay waste to everything in their path. To that end your duties are split between two channels of interaction; immediate assault and resource building.

Let’s take the former of those out for a spin first. Patapon is a side-scrolling Real Time Strategy (RTS) game built around the player’s ability to follow rhythmic patterns. The Patapon can only move and interact with each level if the player presses the PS4 DualShock controller’s face buttons in time with the game’s beat.

In early levels this task is incredibly easy to navigate, but as more enemies and more Patapon units are added to the fray, the difficulty curve rises. Players need to religiously commit the rhythm of their diminutive soldiers to muscle memory – and this activity gets the difficulty level pushed up a notch once Fever kicks in.

Fever, incidentally, is a kind of double-damage phase during which the player’s Patapon soldiers become hell unleashed. The catch is that Fever rips the beat out of the soundtrack, so unless the player’s thumbs are on point, this power boost dies pretty quickly.

Over time God (the player) will be able to add different units to their eyeball army. What starts off as a collection of spear-throwing units evolves to encompass axe-and-shield wielders, archers and cavalry, but the further one progresses, the more they have to guard their assets.

Here’s where the latter point – resource building – come into play; Patapon is no walkover. Collecting loot drops is a vital activity. In order to progress, players are advised to spend some time on the game’s hub; selling assets, building units and visiting the dancing tree (if you play this game, you’ll know what we’re talking about).

Players will be able to cane two or three levels but they’ll need to have their rhythmic fingers and the right units in place when they come up against a boss. The wrong combination of either of these assets can chuck them back into early stage of the game. There is a grind aspect to Patapon that players have to accept going through the door.

Patapon Remastered: Verdict

But isn’t that true of most long-lasting IP’s? Hell, this is a PSP game that looks right at home on the PS4. Patapon is undeniably a unique experience. It’s also cheap. It’s also incredibly well designed. It’s also fun.

What the hell more do you need?

  • Patapon Remastered was reviewed on a PS4. A review code was provided by the publisher.