Tag Archives: Patapon

PSP: Console of 2008 so far?

Sony’s having a funny old generation. The PS3 has gone from being cut adrift to right back in it, and despite being the DS’s whipping boy since they came out in 2004, the PSP is now doing respectable numbers (in hardware, at least), is still gaining features through firmware updates and impressive interoperability with the PS3, and, for my money, has had the best games of all the systems so far this year.

I’ve already blogged about the charming Patapon and phenomenal(ly short) God of War, and I’m sure you’re familiar with those recent gems. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is out in the States and looks insanely good for a PSP game; it takes a while to get going and progress from being a fairly monotonous button masher (never thought I’d accuse a Final Fantasy game of being that) to something unique and extremely playable, slightly reminiscent of the real-time-but-not-quite combat of Final Fantasy XII. The strange things that Square’s been doing with this series makes me extremely curious – not to mention anxious – about what FFXIII will do.

Technically it’s a 2007 release, but I’ve also been playing Silent Hill Origins, which is a technically impressive and extremely solid entry to the series, that anyone worried about how a Western development team will handle Silent Hill V should take a good look at. That handful of games, together with the always-excellent homebrew community (check out the brilliant Rorschach to see what people can do), have ensured that the PSP has been my most played machine for the first few months of the year.

Just like the Wii is never going to be in any danger of being caught by the PS3, the DS and PSP are barely really in competition in that respect. But while the Nintendo machines have had a handful of recent good games – Smash Bros. on the Wii; Apollo Justice and Professor Layton on the DS – the Sony machines have shined this year. Nintendo really doesn’t have much confirmed beyond Mario Kart, while we all know about the PS3’s 2008 lineup and the PSP, while perhaps not having much of its own beyond Crisis Core, will profit from association. Bionic Commando Rearmed, for example, is confirmed to be playable on the PSP via Remote Play.

It may be that tepid software sales and rampant piracy has a detrimental effect on the PSP’s future as an independent system, and it’s been accused of being little more than a PS2 port machine in the past (the ironic thing being that several high profile PSP games have now been ported back to PS2), but with any luck its recent software successes will keep the fires burning. Whether as a games machine, a PS3 accessory, or a portable media player (watching films and TV shows on it is great, if occasionally unflattering to the screen’s poor refresh rate), the PSP has been showing itself as a late bloomer.

God, this year’s Sony praise is making me feel a bit sick. I’ll be sure to compensate once Ninja Gaiden 2 is out.

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?