Rhythm Games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero have been around for a while now and they offer a fun way to work on your rhythmic skills. However the game play has always been focused on the rhythm. So in Dance Dance Revolution you dance in time with the music to score points; in Guitar Hero, to strum the guitar in time with the music to score points. If dancing or playing an instrument doesn’t appeal to you then the whole genre of rhythm games will have passed you by. But rhythm games enter a whole new arena with the release of Patapon.
Taking rhythm back to the songs of the chain gang or the marching songs of the marines, Patapon takes rhythm to war. Unlike other rhythm games where each level or song is a complex new sequence to learn, in this game there are only three sequences to learn. The first is “Pata Pata Pata Pon!” from which the game gets its name. By tapping this rhythm out on the controls, your little on-screen army will attack their evil invaders. The longer you can keep the rhythm going, the more successful your army will fight. During the game you learn two other rhythms that allow for different tactics on the battlefield.
With lots of different levels, boss monsters and a variety of weapon upgrades, Patapon offers far more variation than other rhythm games. This keeps players interested and shifts the focus of the game away from the mindless pressing of button. The graphics are simple but impressive. Both the graphics, and the game’s story-lines are reminiscent of the ground-breakingBeanWorld comics.
Patapon represents an important shift in rhythmic game play and one developers of education games should take note. In too many education games the ‘lesson’, e.g. spelling, is the point of the game. Get the lesson right and you earn points. Unfortunately this makes for a very boring game as players realise that once you master the lesson, the game has nothing more to offer. If someone can’t master it or the lesson simply doesn’t appeal to them, then they will give up on the game. What Patapon does is to make the lesson, the mastery of rhythm, a mechanic of the game that is just one part of the game’s challenge. The players still have to master the lesson but that mastery enables them to explore other challengers. If you are interested in the this subject, have a look at The Theory of Fun.