|Release: April 12, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Andrew Groen
In all my years of gaming I've never seen a breath of fresh air quite the likes of the original Patapon. When it debuted on the PlayStation Portable back in 2008, the entire system felt rejuvenated. It wouldn't be long before the PSP returned to being a barren wasteland devoid of good games, but for that moment it was fresh and full of possibilities.
Patapon was a beautiful, innovative, inventive, and just plain fun adventure unlike anything anybody had ever seen before. It was unthinkable that a company as huge as Sony would be willing to take a risk on a title like this. It was even more unthinkable that the series would become a success in North America, and actually be one of the marquis series the PSP had to offer.
Now we stand here today as the third game in the series is being released. I doubt anybody would have thought it possible. While Patapon 3 remains a fundamentally sound and fun game, a lot of what made it so great three years ago has been lost. Its sense of pure personality and other-worldliness has been lost in favor of some trendy design choices that somewhat cripple the experience.
If you're a Patapon veteran, you may not mind this so much. A few things will be annoying, such as the game's newfound attempts at humor, which have patapons calling each other "dude" and other self-aware fourth-wall breakers. Patapon 3 feels less like its own world than it does a puppet show with its creators' hands clearly visible pulling the strings.
The creators have tried to popularize the series a bit. The most likely reason is because Patapon 2 failed to achieve the success of its predecessor. So they decided to mix things up, and the series is worse off for it. The game is fun in its mechanics, but vapid in its sense of place and personality. Its subdued personality has been replaced by bad jokes and ridiculously flashy anime-style cutscenes.
Newcomers to the Patapon series would do well to go back and play the still-excellent original Patapon. Starting with Patapon 3 will likely cause everything that made the game great seem completely invisible to the newcomer. Veterans of the series, however, will be able to ignore the odd new presentation, and focus on the gameplay. The gameplay in this iteration is vastly simplified over Patapon 2, which may upset some fans who loved the immersion of having to go hunt for creatures if you needed their meat or bones for an upgrade (sometimes at very specific times of day).
Now you simply get a bunch of unique items after each mission. If you need to upgrade your equipment, you just scrap some of the useless stuff and pump the money you receive for it into your best gear. It's not deep or complex at all, but it's satisfying. It should do more good than harm. There are probably more people annoyed by Patapon 2's insistence on grinding than will miss it.