Patapon

Patapon demo today in Europe/US

Brought forward to win your hearts.

Sony has brought forward the release of the European Patapon PSP demo to today, 14th February, the publisher confirmed to Eurogamer this morning.

Patapon

LocoRoco brain at it again.

LocoRoco brain at it again.

Patapon

Patapon

Take advantage of another quirky classic.

So yes, the obvious frame of reference is LocoRoco. There's that clean, crisp, 2D visual style, a similar cast of quirky little imps tumbling around the screen, and it's all accompanied by a joyous sort of shouty singing noise. That's not entirely surprising given that the two games have been developed by some of the same people, apparently. But actually, Patapon bears very little comparison to almost any other videogame (apart, perhaps, from the similarly odd collision of genres to be found in Odama). That's because it's a rhythm-action real-time strategy game, in which you perform the duties of a deity, guiding a tribe of warriors called Patapons to fight their way through the ranks of their enemies, the Zigoton, to find the end of the world.

The way it works is that you issue commands to your army of tribesmen by tapping out simple, predefined rhythms using the PSP's face buttons. Different rhythms make them perform different tasks as they advance across a horizontal, side-scrolling battlefield. The game is broken up across some 30 different missions, with the early stages introducing each new rhythm gradually. Starting off with just one type of drum, within a short while you and your tribesmen will discover new drums for each face button, allowing you to tap out new rhythms that correspond to new commands, such as advance, attack, defend and so on. Stringing together combinations of these commands triggers Fever mode, which, for as long as you can maintain it, spurs your little chaps on to ever greater feats of valour.

The result is a delicate balance between zoning out enough to keep the hypnotic beats racking up to reach Fever, and zoning in enough to focus on what's going on and where you need to direct your troops to do what. Thus, while you're trying to hold down a constant beat to rack up combos, you'll also be trying to time your attacks while working out how to conquer each level - right down to reading speech bubbles for clues (which - as a note for would-be importers - are all in Japanese until the US version comes out next month). Fortunately, those hypnotic beats are simple and trance-like, so controlling the game isn't as complicated as it might sound.

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Patapon Europe-bound early 08

February in the US.

Sony Japan's latest exotic-looking PSP export, Patapon, is due out in the US in February 2008, Sony America announced overnight.

TGS: Patapon

Good VibRations.

The best thing about the Tokyo Game Show is stumbling across gems like Patapon. Just as we were beginning to wonder whether the PSP was likely to to inspire us in any way again, along comes one of the most utterly fascinating games we've ever seen.