A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Patapon 3 is a rhythm action game that has players controlling a small group of heroes via musical beats. Violence exists and characters can die, but the stylized silhouette graphics and relaxed dialogue keep things light-hearted. There's no blood or gore. Online play is supported for the first time in the series, but players cannot communicate with one another outside of a small collection of safe, canned messages.
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What's it about?
PATAPON 3 puts players in the shoes of a great patapon hero who leads a small group of warriors in battles against dark forces in 2-D environments. As with its predecessors, players control these soldiers by tapping out rhythmic chants in four-beat measures, which are repeated by their followers on-screen. Chants can order the warriors to attack, defend, rush ahead, retreat, jump, party, or even summon a djinn. Success depends on keeping an eye out for visual clues that hint at which series of beats might need to be used next. When battles are finished, the patapon head back to camp, where players can change equipment, view classes and ability trees, and visit the smithy to upgrade items. For the first time in the series, players can pit their patapon teams against each other in online multiplayer.
Is it any good?
To its credit, Patapon 3 retains the series’ distinct artistic style and acclaimed rhythmic play mechanics. Tapping out chants with the PSP’s four action buttons and watching little silhouette warriors interpret those chants as marching instructions is just as satisfying as it has ever been. Best played with headphones, this is the sort of game that will get players tapping their feet and bopping their heads.
However, in what appears to have been a misguided attempt to evolve the series, the game's developers have made things much more complex. Players must now wade through unintuitive menus filled with Byzantine stats as they upgrade their warriors’ equipment and manage their abilities. Worse, the action has been made much less forgiving. In some quests, even the most minor of mistakes can spell disaster and force a restart. Newcomers and veterans alike may be put off by this new level of difficulty. It's still a fun game, but it's much more demanding than either of its predecessors.
Online interaction: This game supports online play, but communication is limited to a small collection of canned text phrases. There is no opportunity to share personal information.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about music. Do you enjoy games with a musical element? Do you think games can teach you about music? Have you thought about taking up a musical instrument?
Families can also discuss art in games. Do you think games are a valid form of creative expression? Do game designers make art? If so, what sort of messages can game art communicate?
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