Two noteworthy demos have hit the PSP in the last two weeks. Here are some impressions from yours truly:
Patapon: The guys behind locoroco are at it again, this time with their own take on both strategy and music games. Made in a similar, gorgeous 2d style as LocoRoco, Patapon has you lead armies of little Patapons towards victory and freedom. This is done by banging magic, godly drums in order to issue orders to your army. It is a very interesting setup; while the demo only allows you to move and attack, these two commands alone offer quite some depth. Since play alternates between you banging the drums and the Patapon singing and acting in response, you have to time commands while not screwing them up. This is part strategy game after all, so issuing a move command while in attack range is a waste that will cause damage to your units. Between missions you can create units with the resources you gather, as well as equip them and form units.
I didn’t know what the hell this game was about before the demo, but now I am guaranteed to buy it when it is released next week. With more drum commands and units, this game should play unlike any other, and the deliciously cute Patapons and their tribal chants make even the locorocos feel jealous. I’m not sure how long of a game this concept can be drawn out to, but it’s so curious that I don’t really care.
God of War: Chains of Olympus: God of War is one of the most graphically compelling PS2 games out there, so it makes sense that the PSP side story forced a firmware update to allow the handheld to use its full 333mhz CPU speed. The result is the best looking game on the PSP. While lower in certain details compared to the PS2 originals, Chains of Olympus doesn’t look like it belongs on this console, especially when I compare it to other games I own.
A mighty technical achievement to be sure, and the controls actually translate to the PSP very well. Pretty much everything good and bad about God of War is here, including my tradition of renting, not buying into this series. While it is tough to expect a handheld version to offer anything new, the fact that Chains of Olympus has the same look, sound, controls, and even combos meant that I was able to blast through the demo level with no threat of dying. I didn’t even have to use all the health chests I found.
The first God of War was at least worth a look, and they duped me into playing the sequel just so I could see how much more excessive they could get. I can’t think of anything else they could show me with this one. It literally looks as if I have done it all already, and while developer Ready at Dawn gets huge kudos for what they have accomplished, I am starting to wonder how long this series will go before the gaming press gets tired of the GoW formula, if they ever do at all.