I’m pleased with how innovative Patapon is. I tried out a two level build of it where the first level was designed to get you used to controlling a small tribe of creatures. You don’t move them with the analog stick or a simulation style cursor. The walking eyeballs only respond to drum-like rhythms. Pressing the square button dishes out a “pata” sound and the circle button makes a “pon” sound. Four of these sounds in a row link up to make a single command. For instance, if you want the tribe to shuffle forward you make the “pata pata pata pon” beat by pressing square, square, square and finally circle. If you want them to take another step forward you repeat the sequence.
Since the first level is essentially a tutorial you only need to worry about a fire breathing dinosaur chasing you. The way to escape is to consistently play the “pata pata pata pon” pattern. If you stay in rhythm the tribe will keep running to the right side of the screen and escape.
The second level introduces a new tune, “pon pon pata pon”, which commands the tribe to throw spears. You have to alternate between the two melodies to make the tribe chase the mammoth-like creatures and attack. Linking the two tunes together creates an original beat, one that adapts to how you’re playing Patapon. Brilliant.
Chasing the mammoths wasn’t much of a challenge because they would rest until you caught up to them. Staying perfectly on beat was. There isn’t a meter or any on screen indicator to tell you when you need to hit the buttons. You have to listen to the drums in the background and press buttons according to the tones. If you slip up no one dies, but your combo breaks. Getting a perfect combo through a stage is what separates the pros from the Patapon neophytes. Me? After I put Patapon down I was still a neophyte. While the concept for Patapon is easy to grasp, getting through an entire stage without going off beat once is a tough challenge.