Patapon 2 is a charming little number that is incredibly catchy. For those who have played the first game from Sony's Japan studio, a lot will seem very familiar at first glance. Patapon 2 has still got the same rhythm loving cyclops that themed the last game, and are still mixing their very own genre of game.
For those who are unfamiliar with the first Patapon, it is a rhythm game meets role playing game, meets strategy game. All of these elements at first may seem to clash in theory, but in practice it makes for some stunning and addictive gameplay that is very well suited to a handheld platform. Controlling the game involves memorizing different button combos in sequence with a constant beating tune and this allows your little warriors to move, attack, or defend.
This is not where the gameplay ends however. The whole game has a strategy, which revolves around how the characters are setup. Different units can be selected in up to three groups, along with a "hero" to lead the Patapon into battle. Depending on the level that's about to be entered, units range from close range sword and arrow wielding Patapon, to long range characters with bows and arrows. Other character classes can also be unlocked through a new evolution chain introduced in Patapon 2, which brings a whole new aspect to the game. These classes are either larger and more powerful or quicker and faster at the cost of having fewer Patapon available to that unit. This evolution chain is fairly deep and involving and can really help to extend the amount of hours that can be spent on the game. It's really rewarding to build up character classes and customizing troops.
The one downside to the evolution system is that it can generate a bit of an unnecessary grind in the game. Building up enough materials to evolve a Patapon to fight in the next level can be very tedious. However, thanks to the catchy music, it's usually no problem going back in to earlier levels to pick up those extra weapons and materials. On that note (pun intended), the music is great and really keeps the game upbeat and moving along. The constant beating of drums in the game really helps things move along smoothly and also changes up every now and then to keep the levels interesting.
In terms of longevity, Patapon 2 also features a multiplayer mode, which is a completely new venture for the series. This mode involves using one hero character with up to three others over local connection to defend an egg, which needs to be across a level. The objective being, to combine offensive and defensive moves between the four players while getting across the level which is scattered with enemy troops. It's a decent mode, but it feels a bit tacked on to the main game and is a pain to actually play since everyone has to be in close proximity to play together.
Another gripe is that this game is a download only title (in North America). On one hand it's great, since it saves to the memory card and loads smoothly and quickly without a loud UMD grinding noise. However, on the other it's bothersome for those who don't have wireless internet access to download the game, or the space for a roughly 400 megabyte download onto a memory stick duo.
All in all, Patapon 2 is a game that can be picked up without needing to have played the first Patapon game and it will still offer a great experience for first time players. For those who have played through the first game, there's enough new content here to still have fun with, as the game offers a little less level grinding and a lot more customization than ever before. This is definitely a must have title to pick up for any PSP owner out there.