Flush Review: Patapon Remastered

Just a big ol’ beat-off that delivers loads of pleasure. This is the best way to describe Patapon, PSP royalty that was concerned with solving tribal disputes via rhythmic button presses and drumbeat violence.

We’ve fond memories of chasing high scores and spanking bottoms in it in 2008, but wondered if a PS4 Patapon revival might be a repeat of PaRappa the Rapper Remastered. Is Patapon best left in the past? Should we drum up enthusiasm for it at all?

Initial impressions sure aren’t the best. Like a cheap facelift that impresses nobody, you get the old intro videos stretched to buggery across a 1080p or 4K screen. It’s an awful, unskippable mess that’s so blurry you’ll want to go get your macular checked. Fortunately, that soon gives way to the razor-sharp vector visuals you’d expect: a candy-coloured universe full of strong geometry and complementary colour palettes.

Providing you nail a 4/4 sequence of button taps, your silhouetted squad of armed cyclopes – think: a bunch of armed Mike Wazowskis from Monsters Inc. – will march to the beat of your drums. To begin with you’re only asked to memorise the basic melodies of move (pata, pata, pata, pon) or attack (pon, pon, pata, pon) however, your setlist and abilities do grow in complexity as your enemies become larger.

Consistently nail those beats and a combo ‘fever’ will buff your attack and defence. Cock it up and you’re going to get your eyeballs crossed up, gouged, then it’s game over for everybody.

Prior to a mission you can recruit new troops, assemble them in special formations, or pimp your followers up with weapons and armour found or earned along the way. Failing that, you can just craft what you need from resources, which makes for a powerful incentive to replay and perfect previously attempted missions.

All in all, that simple gameplay loop becomes a narcotic, thanks to a seriously infectious soundtrack and constantly changing landscapes full of new challenges. With some tutelage, your pupils will stare down death in scorching ochre deserts, take down colossal beasts, close ranks against swooping birds ridden by your square-men enemies, and then risk much salt in eyeballs by sailing the seven seas.

Even if you pointedly ignore all plot exposition in the low-res cutscenes, Patapon will likely drag you in anyway with its beautiful visual storytelling.

When Patapon was released way back when, we lapped it up. Mostly because rhythm games were still quite a new fad, and quality PSP releases were few and far between. However, we found ourselves wanting a remix, or a collection, rather than a straight remaster (Patapon’s two sequels added more tribes and quite a decent go at multiplay).

Be that as it may, this is PlayStation heritage that’s well preserved and, at a paltry 15 bucks, it’s priced to own.

Score: 7/10

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