PSP Game Reviews – Patapon, Loco Roco & Lumines II

Patapon – it’s a reasonably simple idea executed brilliantly: your button keys correspond to different drums, and combos timed to 4-beats-to-the-bar is like issuing a command. Mashing a “rythmn” game with a platformer that has some of the quirkiest characters and storyline you can think of.

Unfortunately, it is actually really really hard.

It’s deceptively simple – keeping a beat going isn’t too hard if you’re musical enough, but the more advanced commands that come into play later on requires precision timing, and the game is rather unforgiving. It’s also very much you’re-on-your-own in many parts, requiring you to pick up on clues that are far from obvious in order to progress, or resort to looking up a guide. Hand-holding is bad, but progression in a platformer should be fairly obvious, one would assume.

As a result, it is extremely frustrating to be stuck, knowing that you’re close, but perhaps a half-beat away from the prize. And as such, I am stuck on Level 8. If anyone can tell me how to get the rain miracle consistently, your help would be much appreciated.

(Also, from all reports, Patapon 2 is far more forgiving about the beats. Yay!)

Loco Roco – Another platformer, but not as we know it, Jim. You control an amorphous yellow blob that grows when eating flowers, is fond of flying fruit and appears to be out to rescue strange, almost smurf like creatures, all the while dodging alien beings that can only be described as flying dreadlocks. You control your blob’s movement by “tilting the world”, and “flicking it” to jump. Oh, and the soundtrack is packed with insanely infectious, almost kiddie, tunes. (You could compare it to Katamari Damacy, except the comparison is totally off.)

Much like the music, this game is unique and addictive. The simple controls are exploited extremely well, and you’ll find yourself tilting your PSP to try to get that extra bit of speed or bounce. There are very few elements in the level design that are superfluous, and it’s these little cues that you’ve got to look for to get to the secret areas that are vital to getting a high score or even perfection in this game. There’s also a bunch of unlockable mini games to provide amusement on the side.

Best platformer ever? Just maybe!

(Loco Roco 2 is scheduled for release soon, too).

Lumines II – Lumines was excellent, a reinvention of tetris and a combination with rythmn/music games that ensured both catchy tunes and gameplay that could last for hours – as long as your hands could avoid cramping! So much like tetris, it’s hard to find a way to reinvent the wheel for a sequel without losing all those who loved the first.

Lumines II unfortunately fails to do enough. It’s changed the music for the worse – there’s now clearly a tie-in with the music industry to try to push commercial tunes, and the gameplay-to-music matchup of the first is lost, the music now relegated to a soundtrack. It was the ability to build the music and hear it react to your successes that was half the charm of the previous version, and this is severely diminished here.

There are new skins and a more accessible set of play modes catering for beginners as well as offering more for advanced players, but without the flow of the original’s primary challenge mode, it just doesn’t feel up to scratch. I’d still suggest going out and buying the original!

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