Review: Patapon 3
Pyramid, Japan Studios
Sony Computer Entertainment America
2D Platformer, Puzzle
Review copy provided by the publisher
The third Patapon installment will be a game you hate to love. It has all the components that drive some gamers mad. You’ll find level grinding abundant, repetitive gameplay, and an overall feeling of either you or the enemy being seriously overpowered. Now why would you hate to love that you ask? Well, Patapon 3 does so many things right with improvements over its predecessors and new implements that you actually won’t mind dealing with the hair pulling problems. Now why can’t our economy be like that? ZING!
Patapon 3 picks up right after the second title in a similar fashion that bridged the gap between the first two games. Once the adoring Patapons finished building the bride to gaze upon “IT”, they found a mysterious box and consequently opened it. The end result was not good for the cute little critters as the contents of the box were unleashed upon them. Sadly, they didn’t bestow flowers or gifts and instead turned the Patapons to stone. Luckily another creature came from the box and started helping the Patapons rebuild. This creature “unstoned” a few Patapons and the main protagonist…the Uberhero. The Uberhero and the few Patapons that accompany him are then tasked with destroying the contents of the box and all those who support them. Also, you’ll have to save a certain, important individual as well.
Once you actually start up the gameplay it will become painfully clear that your Uberhero will be your team’s backbone and greatest strength. This Uberhero is an upgraded version of the Hero from the second game and is the cornerstone of Patapon 3. Through the game this Uberhero makes important decisions and is the Patapon that ventures into the multiplayer, but first things first. The principle of the gameplay is the same old strategic, rhythm-based gameplay fans of the series have come to love except you only perform the deed with four different Patapons instead of an army. There is absolutely nothing different with the process of this game and how it operates on a basic level. However, all commands are conveniently placed at the bottom of the screen so you don’t mix up attacks. To make things even easier the main menu or hideout of the game is easy to navigate as it contains the same distinctions as previous installments. (i.e. Armory, Barracks, Master Obelisk.) Don’t worry; there are new options such as the multiplayer components and Sukopon.
Although the basics are the same they are enhanced by sharper graphics, more distinct environments, smoother and more accessible gameplay, wonderful sound, and it’s much easier to maintain Fever mode. In the first two games maintaining Fever mode wasn’t exactly easy even if you input the combos correctly. That doesn’t happen here and allows for a much smoother and enjoyable experience that both excites and impresses you. Regretfully, I have to admit that this showmanship won’t last forever and the problems of the game will come to light. The first and foremost issue is the fact that every four levels are recycled in the same format and besides the different environments…you’re still playing the same platforming.
One problem that will make its appearance more than the rest is the level grinding. More often than not you’ll come across a level that requires you to grind for hours before you advance the story. This will repeat itself a handful of times throughout the entire game and the “overpowered-ness” of some characters make the process more deplorable. At times your Uberhero can kill enemies in one shot when in the very next level an enemy or situation can wipe the floor with you. Thankfully the grinding is lessened for us smart people. The customization options and items really help with the varying power levels between your (extremely) small army.
Customization is much more detailed this time around and really builds a sense of an RPG. Each of the four Patapons (including the Uberhero) has different sets of classes that have different sets of abilities. Each class can be catered to a situation and leveled up to increase different statistics. Then add the upgradable, elemental weapons and equipment (you earn in battle) and you can strategize your gaming performance. Once you solve all the issues and get past these problems, the gameplay will shine with all the colors of the rainbow. Expect to get lost in the game for hours when you don’t have to grind or worry about whom is overpowered.
One of the newest additions is the RPG-like feel Patapon 3 tries to incorporate. It doesn’t necessarily succeed but it is still anomalous nonetheless. The Uberhero will have choices to make such as certain speech phrases that will net you certain rewards/responses that can slightly affect the gameplay. It isn’t a game changing experience but it is still a unique feature that immerses you even more into the title. Another new edition is the cool summons that can be activated when your Fever bar is full. Once they’re unleashed expect any dead teammates to be revived, all friendlies healed, and most enemies on screen destroyed. Have fun figuring out how to enable the summoning to perform! All of this along with the outstanding gameplay combines to make the issues listed appear as a minor inconvenience like that itch you can’t scratch. But wait there’s more! Combine all of these aspects with the multiplayer and you’ll have an even better experience.
To access the multiplayer component you have to select the Herogate option from all of the selections (Blacksmith, Armory, Barracks, Master Obelisk). Once you acquire a connection you’ll be routed to the online main menu. From here you can choose whether to play co-op, versus, or just mess around by joining a hideout or having others join your hideout. Be advised that only the Uberhero can access the multiplayer and if you do the math, only four people can be in one session. Once you are in a hideout you can do a plethora of things. You can select the Team Totem option and trade/distribute cards that act as collectibles, view stats, and customize your speech selections. This is the way to communicate with your teammates and consist of basic phrases like “Let’s Go”, “Yes”, “No”, “Let’s be friends”, etc. The speech function operates well seeing as you can play Patapon 3’s entire story online. The versus modes are simply games where you compete in a two on two battle based tug of war, battleship, or a race. No story related missions to speak of.
You can perform all the actions that you would in the singleplayer in the multiplayer such as upgrade weapons, equip items that you share, receive XP that carries over into each game mode, and buy things from the various “stores”. When you get into the actual gameplay…it is terrific fun. Nothing has really changed, except that your drum beats only control your character, but it just feels more fun and alive with different gamers and their customized characters. For those of you who are truly sick with the level grinding and repetitive nature of the gameplay; multiplayer is where you should be at whenever you play Patapon 3.
This installment of Patapon is the best in the series and improves over what the past two games have failed to bring to the table at the cost of some repetitive nature in gameplay. Those who can’t overlook the problematic issues in favor of cherishing the aspects of customization and the amazingly fun time you’ll have playing Patapon 3’s single-player; the multiplayer will do more than satisfy you and meet your needs. The story will probably last you close to twelve hours but with the customization/items and multiplayer, that completion time gets bolstered up to around thirty hours. To end this review in the most simplest way possible…Patapon 3 is worth the twenty dollar entrance fee and then some.
- Title: Patapon 3
- Platform Reviewed: PSP
- Developer: Pyramid, Japan Studios
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
- MSRP: $19.99
- Release Date: April 12, 2011
- Review Copy Info: A copy of the title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review