Patapon or: Me and My Tragic Lack of Rhythm


It’s been quite a while since my last PSP game, as is probably the case with most people, so it looks like the game to take the cherry of my recently purchased slim PSP will be Patapon. It’s been mooted as a successor to LocoRoco, sharing as it does a developer and a vaguely similar art style, and, as the Wikipedia entry puts it, combines gameplay elements from “music and rhythm games, real-time tactics and God games”. A clear example of a peanut butter and chocolate combination, if I ever saw one.

It also helps that it’s being released as a budget title, and you can get it from Video Games Plus for £12.49 plus postage (even cheaper if your importer of choice is in the US), which I think is an excellent way to sell a niche title that will undoubtedly get great reviews.

Anyway, I’ve been plugging away with the English-language demo of the game. There’s a nigh impenetrable version available through a PS3 on the Japanese PSN store, but for US preorderers and those with a more nebulous moral compass (and/or custom firmware on their PSP), there’s an English-language demo “out there”. Even if you’re buying the game, finishing the fairly lengthy demo is worth the effort as it unlocks an exclusive weapon in the full game. Have at it.

The Almighty Olly

So I was plugging away at it in the wee hours, mostly with a smile on my face because I enjoy being told what an excellent god I am (who wouldn’t?), when I found myself hitting the wall that has scuppered me in everything from Dance Dance Revolution to the later stages of Guitar Hero: I have no sense of rhythm whatsoever. I can just about keep my tribesmen – who, I’ve noticed, occasionally sound just like the Ro-Bear Berbils from ThunderCats – marching, bar the occasional scolding for doing it too fast or too slow, and can usually at least get them into a frenzy, but task me with changing to another beat without losing time and I’m like a deer in headlights.

Surely I can’t be the only one with this problem? It’s like I was born without a certain part of the brain, and the fact that I enjoy this kind of game – this one particularly so – just makes it all that much harder. I conquered games like Samba De Amigo and Guitar Hero II (on normal difficulty, at least) almost by force, just trying the same sequences again and again until muscle memory kicks in, while people that I know – damn you, Barney! – can seemingly just waltz in and do it.

It won’t stop me playing Patapon, since Ouendan showed how little my inability to play rhythm games can damage my ability to enjoy them, but surely if it’s a learned skill I would have picked it up at some point between PaRappa in 1997 and now?

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