I am Alpha and Omega, the Funk and the Noise.
It's not easy being a wise and benevolent god - especially when you've got to keep the beat: “With great power comes great rhythm”, and all that. At least, that's the back-beat guilt-trip you're saddled with in Patapon and its forthcoming, ehrm, second-coming, Patapon 2.
[image1]In the original game, the music-marching Patapons (rendered via the same endearingly stark, 2-D stylized and silhouetted art of French graphic artist Rolito) have reached the sea-cliffs of their tiny, funky little island in their ready-to-sequel quest for Earthend. In Patapon 2, we find they've taken their quest across the sea... only to shipwreck on a larger yet stranger island populated by mysterious mask-wearing creatures called the 'Karmens' (perhaps they'll one day star in their own PSP game - indefatigably advancing and stage-exiting to the strains of French spoken-dialogue operas).
For some reason, the Karmens seem to have made it their mission to prevent the lovable, funk-able Patapons from reaching their goal... which is where you - oh, wise and rhythmic player/deity on high - come in.
The ranks and abilities of the Patapon army itself have increased since their first cadenced crusade: Among the new recruits are the Robopon (mechanized brawling warriors), the Mahopon (the magic-users), and the so-named Toripon (flying, bird-riding fighters); all will march/fly, fight, and fall to your drumbeat orders, which include the new jump, Party and Power-up commands. What's more, your own Patapon Hero can be tweaked to your custom fighting-style preferences. By carefully swapping out new Patapon Hero Masks and weapons, you can cook up your own home-village-brewed warrior.
[image2]Patapon 2 boasts a fairly whopping new content-load overall - more than twice the content of the original game, in fact, including around 500 (!) weapons and armor options, and 80+ missions (said missions including hunting, 'escort' and, of course, some 22 boss battles). In addition, seven mini-games will allow players to earn upgrades and bonuses. Further, Patapon 2 will introduce - figurative drum-roll, please - the new Game Sharing multiplayer mode.
In multiplay, up to four players will be able to get in on the action. One of the bits on display at October's Tokyo Game Show, thankfully, hasn't changed in the interim: It revolves around players working together, hitting the command buttons more-or-less in concert to collectively hoist a huge egg and schlep it to a designated area (in order to break it open and wield the enchanted mask or other such useful item hidden inside).
Likewise, multiplayer combat is about what you'd mechanically expect, with one player hosting as the lead hero, and all players required to tap out the various war-beats that allow special attacks (if you even have to ask which member of your collaborative, Game-Sharing quartet is the one most lacking in rhythmic skills, it's probably you). But even so, croaking in this mode is only a short-lived condition at worst, and you'll respawn into the team effort in short order.
[image3]But really, never mind the new bells and whistles - the best news is that Sony seemingly hasn't futzed with the key formula; namely, the game's charming overall audiovisual presentation. Whether it's hearing your adorable tribal worshipers utter a squeaky, confused “Eh?” when you lay down some questionable rhythms or just watching their small ink-spot eyes narrow into determined slits as they engage in battle for Your godly glory, this sequel keeps the enchanting feel - and of course, the all-important beat - of its predecessor.
Patapon 2 is shaping up to look just as cute and march just as funky as its revered ancestor, and is slated to bring the groove back tribal-style later this year. Positions for all-seeing, miracle-granting, rhythmic player-deities are opening soon. You can peruse the sacred review texts at Game Revolution, when the second coming happens this spring-to-summer worship season.