Patapon 2 Remastered – Marching to the Same Beat
Patapon always was for a very specific, niche, Playstation audience, but in spite of possessing a fairly small captive audience, Sony loved the work of Pyramid and their own Japan Studio and opened up the door to sequels. We saw two sequels to Patapon, in the form of the aptly named Patapon 2 and Patapon 3, but where the original was remastered and re-released on the PS4 in 2017, any equivalent work on the second or third entries in the franchise seemed to be doomed to lingering in development hell. Well, at least in the case of Patapon 2, it seems there was a way out of hell because Patapon 2 Remastered has marched its way onto the PS4. The question is though, can this 12-year-old PSP gem still hit the right notes in 2020?
Patapon 2 picks up immediately where the original game left off with the Patapons and Zigotons taking off around the world in search of new lands – which is precisely what they find, and with it, a whole new adventure. There’s a cute, narrative steering your gameplay here but it’s hardly essential nor riveting, but does enough to keep you interested throughout. There are a few little narrative twists and turns in play but by and large, Patapon 2 tells a few straight forward, linear story with little to deviate you from your path.
While the story of the titular Patapon could divide the audience, it’s hard to argue with the gameplay, which doesn’t evolve a great deal from the previous title but the rhythmic beats you need to hit to advance, attack, defend and more will keep you glued to your screen at all times. Each successful beat sequence will drive the Patapon forward, bunker down in defence or charge forward to attack, and with a growing variety of Patapon in your party giving players layers of strategy to work with on top of the solid foundation. Moreso than in the original title, Patapon 2 leans into RPG systems, as you look to kit out your team in the best possible way to ensure maximum effectiveness in combat; your units can level up, as well as the gear, encouraging a degree of griding for players looking to sweep encounters as fast as possible.
On top of toting three different squads with you into the fray you’ll soon into your adventure be joined by The Hero, who has the handy ability to swap classes at a whim, boasts significantly more firepower than the standard troops, and some cool abilities that unlock following four perfectly timed beats.
The onus remains on the player to maintain consistent timing, plan their movements and execute in order to be successful. Grinding isn’t necessary unless you’ve got some specific additional objectives in mind, making progression fairly straight forward and not too laborious. Criminally, Sony hasn’t responded to any of the feedback thrown the way of the previous games remaster that cited a need for a screen calibration feature. I lost almost an hour to the tutorial as I fought with my own instincts because it wasn’t recognising my inputs in the necessary timing of the game, simply due to screen input delay. Being able to offset that via the settings would have completely alleviated this issue, but as with the last game, the flaw persists and will continue to frustrate players old and new.
One very notable omission from the original release is the multiplayer aspects, a huge selling point for the original game which facilitated fantastic ad-hoc co-op play. That has fallen by the wayside in the transition to the console, a strange decision given the always-connected society that many of us live in today.
There was a tinge of disappointment for fans of Patapon when it was remastered for the PS4, because it was just that, a remaster. Nothing new, nothing revolutionary, nothing to bring the game to a modern standard, and so, the existing fans were satiated and those who weren’t interested to begin with likely failed to find something new to lure them in. Patapon 2 Remastered suffers the same affliction that its forebearer did, it’s too true to its origin, and despite being a brilliant title, fails to engender itself a new audience. The heart is still there and beats strongly, but it’s missing a few key appendages in 2020.
Patapon 2 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro, with code provided by Sony Australia