From the development team behind the lovable PSP original LocoRoco comes another impressive release. Focusing again on 2D gaming, Patapon merges colourful images with rhythm based strategy gaming. Patapon is one of a kind. Pata, Pata, Pata, Pon.

Packaged in a 2D environment with strongly divided colours, Patapon makes it easy for gamers to fall in love with its cute aesthetics and loveable Patapon characters. More than its cute looks, Patapon also delivers in the gameplay department with the original approach of merging action-strategy with rhythm based gaming. Patapon feels a lot like LocoRoco without being like LocoRoco at all. Given the excellent execution of LocoRoco this is a high praise and just like the little Loco’s, you will quickly fall into the same role with open arms.

In Patapon it’s your job to lead a tribe of Patapons through dangerous lands, feeding them and protecting their tribe at the same time. As a god of sorts to these Patapons you will sing and dance your way to victory. How this translates to the music and rhythm game is that the Patapons follow a magical beating drum that you control by hitting the PSP face buttons. Depending on the patterns you tap and the drum you are using the Patapons will react a certain way. These combos are how you control your little Patapons leading them through levels attacking and defending along the way.

Keeping the rhythm on time along with the beat is essential to controlling your Patapons. The system in Patapon works on a call and response mechanic. You punch out a combination beat and the Patapons will sing the line. Before you can insert another command you will have to wait until the Patapons finish singing and you’ll have to be on time with your button presses. This is easy to grasp after a few minutes of playing Patapon. Patapon eases the gamer into new combinations during the game without overwhelming the player. At first you are not going to know what to expect in Patapon because it’s so highly original, but once you get rolling Patapon strangely feels normal, realistic to its world.

I’m sure you are wondering is a Patapon? Patapons are a warrior tribe who where driven from their homeland by the evil Zigoton army. The ancients that left their homeland searched for an object known as IT, but without their god who beats on the magical drum they lived stagnant. When you come into the adventure beating the mighty drum, as their god you inspire them to fight against the Zigoton army while searching for the illustrious item. Game designer Hiroyuki Kotani and French graphic artist Rolito vision is truly original.

For looks Patapons are big eyeballs with small legs and arms attached. There are several types of Patapons, Spear throwing Yaripon, Powerful Tatepon warriors, arching Yumipon, Horse riding Kibapons and more. The all have same appearance with little changes. The Zigoton enemies are small in stature like the Patapons, but usually have red in their design along with long evil horns. There nature is more evil looking and dangerous, but they aren’t the most dangerous creatures in the game. The “X” elements in Patapon are the monsters which dwarf the Patapons in comparison. One of the first monsters you’ll encounter is a terrifying dragon-dinosaur creature that breathes fire from its mouth and easily tramples on the poor Patapons. When the monsters come up prepare yourself for a battle with casualties on your side.

The stages are all set on the 2D framework with usually only the backgrounds changed in colour. From green to purple and evil red, the environments surprisingly stay interesting despite their basic design. The stage is never the focus of Patapon it’s always the upcoming battle and keeping time with your commands. Rhythm and action is the quality to master in Patapon. From defending to powering up and marching forward every movement has to be pre-planned to a certain degree, however the game runs in real time so there are no turns to think out your movement. This is half of the strategic element in Patapon. It’s not too deep; however with all the elements combining to make the game, it seemed well placed.

The other half of the strategic component is the ability to upgrade, build and customize your Patapon army. It’s up to the player to create your own soldiers and pick their role in the game. Creating warriors needs the proper ingredients that can be found on the battlefield, or summoned from the disco tree. There are a number of combinations for the gamer who loves to experiment, depending on the items you use expect some surprises in your Patapon design. Aside from creating them you also can armour each unit individually with certain shields, weapons, and helms... there are over 100 items and weapons in Patapon. I was really astonished, by the extra amount of detailed added to the game mechanics in the games strategy.

If you had to find a fault with Patapon it would be that the formula is basic. The musical aspect isn’t too difficult to master and the game doesn’t offer much more a straightforward march. Counteracting this is how unconventional the concept is and how it’s implemented within Patapon. Patapon is an original with no equal which is a feat that isn’t easily accomplished with all the games released over the years. If you wanted something more in the way of multiplayer, you’ll probably have to wait to see if Interlink is opting for a Patapon 2. I’m still waiting for my PS3 LocoRoco, so hopefully Patapon can have the same honour to be upgraded and expanded for Sony’s big console.

Patapon is true blending of genres creating a unique and special game exclusively on the PSP. The mixture of gameplay elements from strategy action elements to rhythm based music gaming will have your foot tapping as you explore the dangerous lands within Patapon. I could go on forever, praising this achievement of Patapon because it’s nothing short of brilliant. Patapon will surely have you beating the magical drum digging up a one of kind Patapon army, and the best part is that it’s listed at the low price tag of $20. Patapon is must have for anyone looking for a refreshing original game.

Gameplay: 8, Graphics: 9, Sound: 9, Innovation: 10, Mojo: 10. Final: 9.2 / 10

Reviewed by Jimmy | 03.06.08

  • Rhythm and Action Collide – Master up to six different drumbeats to command the Patapon troops to march, attack, defend, power up, retreat, and use magic. Combine the various chains of drumbeats to address each unique level, leading the Patapons to victory over the Zigoton enemy forces.
  • Strategic Gaming – Patapon delivers a strong element of strategy by requiring players to properly customize and build up the Patapon army, arm each soldier with particular weapons and armor, and position them correctly for battle.
  • Mission Variety – Take part in more than 30 specific missions including hunting, escort, and boss battles, and explore numerous vivid environments along the way. Players will discover and access more than 100 items and weapons throughout the adventure.
  • Unique Art Style – French graphic artist Rolito, noted for his abstract art style seen in collectible toys, animation, and websites, lends his skills to create a variety of unique characters and environments, bringing the Patapon world to life.
  • Mini-Games – Five music-based mini-games allow players to earn bonuses and upgrades to further customize the Patapon warriors.
  • Music – Captivating and dramatic original music builds dynamically as players march and encounter enemy battles throughout each level.


SCE Japan
Music - Action
US Released
Feb 28th '08