Believe it or not, Patapon 2 originally released over a decade ago and now, it's finally been remastered for PS4 so here's my review.
For those unfamiliar with Patapon, it's a trilogy of games that released for Sony's PSP. I still have all 3 UMDs so it's great to relive some memories and play a couple on the big screen with a welcome visual overhaul. Anyway, the series is a mix of rhythm and real-time strategy elements. You basically control a small army of shadowy yet cute soldiers by tapping button sequences to the rhythm which correspond to commands such as march forward, attack, and defend whenever an enemy seems to be readying a blow. As you progress, you'll learn even more sequences as well as ones that result in a rhythm mini-game where you can accomplish feats such as change the weather. It all comes together in a highly enjoyable and surprisingly challenging formula that'll keep you hooked for hours.
Patapon 2 Remastered looks and sounds fantastic for the most part. Its simple and colourful visuals really pop complete with quirky animations and imaginative enemy designs while the background hues contrast perfectly with the dark foregrounds to create a striking style that you don't see too often in gaming. That being said, some assets such as FMV sequences and the like simply haven't been remastered enough and appear as if they're ripped straight from the PSP version with little to no upgrade for PlayStation 4.
Meanwhile, the audio is astounding with catchy rhythms and chants that'll stay in your head for weeks after you stop playing. In fact, I feel like I'm going crazy right now because I can't stop hearing "Pon-pon-pata-pon Pata-pata-pata-pon" play in my mind. Again, there are some audio issues where the sound seems to distort at points but it isn't that noticeable and doesn't detract from the experience.
Patapon 2 Remastered is a huge game. It'll likely take the average gamer about 20 hours to complete and once you're done, you're looking at another 20+ hours to master the rest of the content. The main campaign has you progress through stages and in between them; you can upgrade and evolve your soldiers. Watching your army grow is very rewarding, especially when you manage to topple a particularly difficult boss so thankfully, you can grind for materials whenever you wish. You'll even have to backtrack at points in order to progress in the story which provides ample opportunity to enhance your capabilities on the battlefield.
Even though it looks like it was made for mass appeal, Patapon 2 will definitely alienate gamers who don't have the patience to persevere past challenging levels. Everything starts out simply enough but once you progress through a handful of stages, the level of difficulty starts to show and after a handful more, you'll be impressed at how challenging everything becomes. Although I don't inherently have a problem with this, what annoys me is how devastating failure can be. Specifically, fighting a boss for 10 or so minutes as you carefully execute each move and masterfully deploy Miracles only to perish and have to begin the fight all over again is a huge bummer.
Finally, some parts of Patapon 2 are rather confusing. For example, you have to revisit a stage to learn a Miracle in order to fight a boss so I replayed it only to see a sign post that disappeared when I touched it. So, I played through again and performed the notes on the sign before touching it and the sign grew so I touched it again and it disappeared. Finally, I played the level again and performed the notes on the sign multiple times and that did the trick. Why does it have to be that abstruse? Why can't you just be prompted to perform it a few times? Keep in mind, there were other unclear moments and some of them made me resort to using a guide.
Patapon 2 is an often overlooked classic that you should definitely play if you haven't already. With that said, it doesn't quite feel modernized or remastered enough in this iteration yet it still manages to be packed full of charm and challenge.
- + Brilliant mix of rhythm controls and real-time strategy gameplay
- + Stylish presentation and super-catchy audio
- + Large amount of content to master
- - Challenge gets very steep about halfway through and failure is highly frustrating
- - Some assets aren't remastered enough
- - Certain parts can be confusing