Patapon is not a game best experienced on a noisy trade show floor. But then again what game is? Patapon gives a better impression when you can plug in a pair of headphones and devote undivided attention to it on a couch, or in my case a thirteen hour plane ride. The game mechanics of marching to the drums has been pretty well documented, but the story has not. The story begins with the player signing a contract, who the tribal eyeballs call “Almighty” and their dream of marching to World’s End. The chief tells me a long time ago Almighty crossed the desert by causing rain to fall. However, I need to find the Don Don Drum and something called the Rain Miracle.
I could listen to the wise chief, he hasn’t led me wrong yet and I’ve successfully conquered the Zigoton, the Patapon’s sworn enemies with right angled eyes, with his advice. However, I’m going to ignore his words and see if I can skip past his quest. The Desert Crossing level begins with a Zigoton fort blocking my tribe from moving forward. The spear-throwing Yaripon and arrow-shooting Yumipon hide in the back row while the axe-wielding Tatepon charge towards the tower when I play the Aria of Attack. Pon – Pon – Pata – Pon. Circle – Circle – Square – Circle. Once the fortress is crushed I calmly play the March of Mobility not knowing what danger lies ahead. A talking signpost informs me that it’s about to get hot. I probably should have the Rain Miracle, but I don’t so my only option is pressing forward. Little did I know I was about to send my entire tribe to a fiery death with the next Pata – Pata – Pata – Pon. As my tribe steps past the sign the screen turns orange and the scorching sun sets them ablaze. Curiosity satiated. PSP reset.
Good thing I saved before I did that! Perhaps, it is time to figure out the secret of Patata Plain. Prior to this stage I collected a third drum, the Chaka Drum, which is mapped to the triangle button. Patata Plain is usually where I go to hunt, collect meat and feed it to a dancing tree that drops branches when I complete his mini game. Before the hunt begins there is a totem pole with a sequence of triangle and circles. Maybe, I should copy this sequence? Triangle – Circle – Triangle – Circle. Poof! The totem pole rises. I play the sequence again, a compass pops out and a new mission appears on the map.
Unfortunately, this mission isn’t going to be easy. Fighting fire breathing dragons is never easy. With a sizeable army of Patapon I press forward. Dragons have a knack for hitting multiple Patapon at once with a burst of fire. Surprisingly, that isn’t too punishing. You can collect the caps of Patapon who perish in that manner and revive them when the stage ends. However, if the dragon swallows a Patapon whole, he’s finished. The brave Tatepon are the first to get gobbled up as a dragon snack since they are a few steps in front of the Yaripon. Think of them as tanks or sacrificial lambs. Slaying this dragon was a little easier with the help of the Dirge of Defense. Chaka – Chaka – Pata – Pon holds the tribe into place ready to guard against an attack. Alternating between the Dirge of Defense and the Aria of Attack was the path to victory.
The fallen dragon left a treasure, the Rain Miracle, which I should have had before attempting to cross the desert in the first place. When I started the Desert Crossing mission for the second time a message appeared indicating how to perform a miracle. The steps are tricky. First you have to get the troops into fever mode by getting a ten drum combo. Fever mode typically increases the ferocity of the Patpon’s attacks. The catch is fever mode leaves less room for error. You need to be on beat or you break the combo. Once fever mode is activated I played the Miracle Drum and rain fell from the sky. However, it was only a passing storm. A few seconds later the sun rose. The trick to crossing the desert is to continually activate the Rain Miracle while breaking rocks and sending drum beats to make your Patapon march. By this time I wasn't making a simple rhythm. I had a custom song, the drowning of the desert.