Patapon 3

Posted on October 26, 2015 by Richard Goulter
Tags: ,

I recently bought a PS Vita. - A long time ago I has a PSP. I started the first Patapon game on that, but never got very far. And the Singapore PlayStation store isn’t cool enough to have the first two Patapon games. So here I am.

Patapon 3 is quite different to the previous games, apparently.
Patapon, for those unaware, is a rather unique game. It’s largely a rhythm-game, where you control an army of units. ‘Commands’ are entered by pressing a sequence of buttons. (e.g. “onwards” is Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon, and “attack” is “Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon”; where Square=“Pata”, Circle=“Pon” - It’s much simpler than it looks). And it has RPG-ish elements to it, in that there’s equipment which you can upgrade, and your units can change which ‘class’ they are.
– Patapon 3 is quite different, in that you’re limited to four units.

It does involve a lot of grinding. I’ve been happy to do that, and have been spending much of my time playing Patapon 3 to level up my units. – It’s satisfying to find a good combination of units to get through a quest - In order to ‘grind’ sanely, it’s nice to have one over-levelled unit, with the other three units under-levelled (so they gain lots of EXP for completing the quest).
– So the whole I-want-stronger-units-so-I-can-beat-levels-quicker, I-want-to-beat-levels-quicker-so-I-can-have-stronger-units cycle is fun.

But it’s not without frustrations:

Most obvious is that information isn’t clear; some reviews (e.g. on MetaCritic) complain “oh, the ‘recommended level’ (for a quest) is bullshit”. This is unfair, as the recommended level isn’t inaccurate. But the units and what equipment chosen are very important, and this isn’t obvious. – On one quest, my army was blasting through every obstacle, every enemy in one-two turns each, but then reaching one particular enemy, wasn’t even able to make a scratch. My army wasn’t equipped correctly to take on the enemy, and Patapon 3 can be punishingly unbalanced like that.

It’s frustrating to a gamer to have luck-based elements impact the game.
And Patapon 3 features many sections like this:
– The four units are a Shield unit, an Archer unit, a Spear unit, and a Hero unit (which can be one of the other classes). When the Shield unit dies, then the player’s health is vulnerable to attack. So it’s important that the Shield unit doesn’t die, since the player loses very quickly if the Shield unit dies.
– There are various enemies in the game which can one-hit-kill the player’s units: aside from the major bosses, there are sharks which can chomp units in one go, and there are salamander enemies which will ‘explode’ when they’re killed. This in itself is not bad, but:
– Units can only be revived in one batch per quest. (Aside from the Hero unit, which will revive after a time if not insta-killed). - So, if the Shield unit is killed, then the player must use this one revive. But…
– The player’s units will be uncontrollable under two circumstances: if the unit is affected by some element (e.g. on fire, frozen), or the player is reviving their units.
For the latter, to ‘revive’ the units requires a special ‘revive’ command. (In the game’s terms, summoning a djinn). For the next while, the units will not be under player control. - They’ll generally attack; thus, vulnerable to aforementioned insta-kill enemies; thus, when facing such insta-kill enemies, this ‘revive’ can’t really be used.
For the former.. this can be largely probablistic. i.e. luck-based. - A unit standing beside a bush on fire won’t always go on fire; but they might right before you attack. Or, rather, they might go on fire right as such an insta-kill enemy is in the area, and get killed. Or they might be frozen in range of the insta-kill of an enemy. - Certain items can mitigate this slightly, but not completely. (As well, it can cost gold to upgrade the items; and you get gold by playing such quests, so…).

– Minor issue related to that; rather than manage all the equipment given to the unit, there is an ‘optimise’ button. - The trouble is, this optimise algorithm has no qualms giving vulnerable-to-fire equipment, when the levels very clearly demand fire-resistant equipment. - It’s a minor thing, but tedious.

Some egregiously frustrating (albeit mostly minor) game design issues aside, the game puts heavy emphasis on Multiplayer aspects.
“Hey there, this is a tough quest, but you can play with your friends”. - There are several ‘rare’/randomly-available gigantic-boss-battle quests which are strictly ‘multiplayer-only’.

Upgrading equipment is somewhat an example of this. The blacksmith can’t upgrade weapons beyond the blacksmith’s limit; the blacksmith’s limit is determined by the highest-level weapon (which is limited by the Hero unit’s level). - But, the equipment can only be upgraded to the nearest-10 of the highest equipment. - So, like, if you have a level-23 bow, then you can’t upgrade a level-20 sword, but you can upgrade all other equipment up-to level-20. (Until the level-23 bow becomes level-31; in which case, repeat for level-30…).
– But-of-course, if you visit another player’s (i.e. online/multiplayer) blacksmith, then you’re limited by their level. Or some other such, such that there’s not the same limitation.
– This isn’t game-breaking, but it is tedious.

Newer post Older post