A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game's primary focus is tribal battles. That said, the fighting is fairly tame -- all we see are silhouettes of googly-eyed men throwing spears and shooting arrows at large animals. There is no blood or gore. Also note that this game acts as a rudimentary mock-up of primitive tribal culture. The googly-eyed tribe members mindlessly follow the instructions of the player, who issues orders in the form of repetitive drum beats/chants. There is, however, an ever-present sense of humor that keeps the game's events feeling rather whimsical.
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What's it about?
A sequel to last year's critically acclaimed Patapon, PATAPON 2 once again places players in control of a tribe of googly-eyed warriors looking to gain control of their land and environment. Series fans will be happy to learn that the story picks up immediately following the events of the first game, with the Patapon voyaging across the ocean in search of the end of the world. Alas, they are besieged by a sea creature that wrecks their boat. The remnants of the tribe wash up on a strange shore, where they immediately get to work hunting animals and discovering the secrets of their strange new home.
Play is almost identical to the first game. Players use the PSP's buttons to beat out simple but strategic rhythms, which command the Patapon warriors to march, attack, and defend themselves. Each mission results in the unlocking of new music, new items, and new weapons that players can use to customize their Patapon army. New features include a powerful 'hero' unit that can unleash special attacks via specific drum beat combinations, an evolution system that lets players transform their warriors into more powerful fighters, and a four-player local area network co-operative mode.
Is it any good?
Patapon 2 doesn't radically alter the formula of the first game, but instead refines it, adding new abilities, creatures, beats, and a multiplayer mode so that friends can experience the game's beautiful art and innovative play together. There's no need to worry if you missed out on the original; the game's story is more or less self contained, and the first few missions do a good job of acquainting players with the game's idiosyncratic mechanics. What's more, a trio of difficulty levels ensures that players of vastly different skill levels can make their way through the game with equal ease. And while the surprisingly deep warrior customization system might be intimidating to strategy novices, a helpful "optimize" command lets players properly outfit their fighters for each mission with the touch of a single button. In other words, Patapon 2 welcomes back and challenges series veterans while providing an accessible entry point for players who have yet to experience the franchise's delightfully unusual game play.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this series’ odd mixture of rhythm and strategy. Did you try to imagine what it might be like before playing? Was your imagined version of the game very much like the real thing? Do you see why the developers chose to use a primitive, chanting tribe as the focus of such a game? Can you think of other seemingly disparate genres of games that could be melded together to create a fresh, new type of interactive experience?
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