The basic gameplay idea behind Patapon
is that you control a series of drums and in turn can use the drums to motivate small armies of characters drawn from a Patapon
tribe. This tribe recognizes you as some kind of god, calling you Almighty and bestowing upon you a mission to help strike down enemies of the Patapon
race. You'll find that your role in tribe includes creating some resources that can then be used to give birth to mighty soldiers that will march in step to your drum beats. You'll hunt for other resources and after creating the ultimate fighting force, you'll equip your troops and lead them into battle. The rhythm gameplay is done through repetition - you'll listen to a beat and then perform that beat using one or more button on the PSP. There are contained imitation segments, usually in the village, that you'll use to produce special items. After you move to a battle or a hunt, you'll use certain combinations of beats to make the Patapon
army perform specific actions. One pattern will produce an attack, while another puts your force in defense mode. Other special beats will produce special effects that can turn the tide of battle, like wind or rain storms.
At first, it is hard to understand how all this will string together in a way that makes for fun gameplay. After you get used to beating out drum beats in rhythm, you'll find yourself sinking into the music, listening to make sure you are keeping good time, while watching the action to make sure you are beating out the appropriate messages to your troops. Think of it like a real-time strategy, war-game, rhythm-game combination and you're getting very close. The action becomes intense quickly and you'll find yourself going back to the drawing board to build up your army after a big battle; in the most heated battles, you'll have moments where a Patapon doesn't make it home... Gathering resources allows you to rebuild your army and stock your troops with bigger and better weapons. The potential for this game to take the world by storm is very high, but it will depend on how much impact the abstract style of Patapon has with gamers. On shelves packed with name-brand characters, it can sometimes be hard for a "new kid on the block" to be noticed. After toying with an awesome preview of the Patapon world, we're hoping like hell that this game does find a well-deserved audience when it hits shelves next month.