Following Crash Bandicoot and PaRappa the Rapper, yet another beloved Sony game from years gone by has been remastered for PS4 in the form of Patapon Remastered. Is the polished-up rhythm game worth the modern-day revisit? Read our review to find out.
Patapon was originally released for the PlayStation Portable, or PSP, a full decade ago, in late 2007. It received wide acclaim, both critically and commercially, and quickly became a classic in its own right. It seems the perfect choice to make a comeback, primed and ready to introduce a brand new generation to the ultra-catchy melodies within. However, remastering handheld games and putting them on home consoles hasn’t always proven successful in the past, and Patapon Remastered struggles similarly.
Before we get into that, let’s get one thing clear: This is not a bad game by any stretch of the mind. Patapon Remastered takes that classic PSP title and polishes it up beautifully. The funny-looking musical creatures look sharp as a tack on the PS4, and the bosses and mini-game friends are even more impressive. Each stage focuses on one or two main color palettes, giving them distinct feelings of different times of day. Orange stages are like dusk, green give off a morning feeling, and blue are like a mid-afternoon stroll. The mostly monochromatic Patapons make the backgrounds pop, and the detail put into it is just gorgeous. It’s a delight to play this game on a large HD screen, if only to admire the artwork.
The praise given to Patapon upon its initial release was well deserved for more than just its stylish look, as the blend of RPG and rhythm elements is a fun combination, then quite new and fresh to the scene. Choosing the right troops to send out for particular missions or to face specific enemies is just as crucial as picking the right songs to play to advance through a mission, attacking, defending, or running ahead as necessary.
To give some perspective for those who haven’t played before, in each stage your goal is to complete a specific objective (i.e. hunt for food; fend off enemy forces; beat the boss), and then reach the beacon at the end. Stages scroll from left to right, and you can only move by inputting commands in time with the music. You unlock new songs with new abilities throughout the game, but the two you start off with are the songs to move and attack. Pata-pata-pata-pon (Square, Square, Square, Circle) make your troops move forward, while Pon-pon-pata-pon (Circle, Circle, Square, Circle) talls them to attack nearby enemies. If you don’t press any buttons, your party will stand still and do nothing, often amusingly berating you for not playing along with the music.
The 1-2-3-4 rhythm is constant throughout the game, and I often found myself tapping my feet along with it to help keep myself in time. This helps you feel engaged and immersed in the experience, but your foot might get tired after prolonged periods of play. That said, the game doesn’t feel made for prolonged sessions, which is one reason why it feels out of place on a home console. Having a rhythm game with two to five-minute stages is a perfect fit for the handheld PSP; great for commuting on the bus, a quick round in a waiting room, or maybe a couple levels before bed. If you want to sit on the couch and spend an afternoon getting lost in a game, Patapon’s not the one you’ll want to play.
Its story is forgettable, and feels mostly like some cheap padding to give more reason and rhyme to your quest forward. This isn’t a bad thing, but don’t expect to remember the whats or whys once you’ve finished the game. The story isn’t the main draw, however. That’s the gameplay, which, again, is best suited in short bursts.
When you start the game, it sucks you in and is quite addictive in nature. You quickly unlock several new types of troops, and a couple new songs, which make you want to proceed and see how all the new stuff works. After the introductory hours, though, it becomes a majorly tedious grindfest. You’re required to repeat a few hunting and battle missions ad nauseum just to unlock a few rare-drop weapons to beef up your team juuuuust enough to make it past the new boss, only to be thwarted at the next big battle for the same reason. The boss designs, like the rest, are killer and awesome, but after failing to defeat them half a dozen times (and receiving no consolation reward at all for attempting the fight), it just becomes wasted time.