Once again, a sequence of drum beats is used to issue commands to your Patapon troops, though the sequel adds new layers on top of these mechanics. It's as addictive as its predecessor, with the extra bells and whistles making it just that little bit deeper -- though not at the expense of its immediate simplicity. You'll be humming "Pon Pon Pata Pon" before you know it.
For RPG fans, there are new micro-managing features, which even add some interest to those non-rhythmy bits between levels. Not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps, but upgrading troops through a skill tree and customizing your Hero Patapon to perfectly suit your play style felt more engaging than we had anticipated.
The presence of Hero Patapons is new to the sequel. Switching between classes can give you a strategic advantage, depending on the challenge type. The Hero's class also dictates its special ability, which is activated anytime you hit a perfect rhythm. It's a great way of counterbalancing the new, accessible difficulty level by rewarding excellent rhythm-keeping with more powerful attacks. In short, that means much less frustration for the player.
If you found the original game a little too punishing, Patapon 2 may still be worth a look. Fever is now much easier to initiate and harder to lose. A single perfect command input will initiate Fever, making recovering from a failed command a much more painless experience -- certainly a welcome attempt at making the game more accessible. Having said that, the game does get harder and definitely requires some classic RPG grinding as you progress. Again, this will probably be appealing to RPG fans and, in our opinion, only adds to the game's longevity.
The biggest addition to Patapon 2 over the original is the online co-op multiplayer. This allows you and three other Patapon 2 players to fight against bosses and traverse some of the game levels together using your Hero Patapon. These levels are contained within eggs which are obtained throughout the game. The aim of co-op mode is to transport the egg through the level and perform a ritual (minigame) at the end to hatch it.
Patapon is such a unique concept that it'd be a shame to pass it up. If you tried the original and found it a little hard, you should definitely give Patapon 2 a go. If you enjoyed the original, you'll adore the sequel's myriad new features and enhancements. While the fun and addictive bite-sized levels make it perfect for portable play, we're hoping one of the series' next enhancements is an upgrade to HD on the PS3.