also picks up where the previous game left off in terms of the narrative. Not that the first game is a prerequisite or anything, but you'll appreciate the sequel more if you play its predecessor. Returning characters include field units such as Yaripon, Tatepon, etc. and, of course... Gong! New field units are introduced along with a hero that accompanies your field force and can take the form of any standard unit. The overall format of the game remains the same, where you play through a series of levels containing unique missions, then come back to replay levels for resources or story items. Patapon 2
does a better job weaving replay in as more than just a way to kill some time. You'll need to revisit some levels to capture items that move the story forward, and there is a much larger emphasis placed on gathering resources that you'll use to strengthen your units. Some levels can only be played after hidden maps are uncovered in other levels, for instance. After a level has been played, it reappears on your list as either a hunting area or a boss battle. Each time you fight a boss it levels up, making these great places to gain experience, credits for spending, and unique items. Hunting grounds will also yield special items and contain many staple resources needed to upgrade your Patapon
Upgrading is a huge part of the gameplay, this time around. Where you were consigned before to set units that would grow in experience and could be equipped with items, you now have all that plus a tech-tree style of unit development that is every bit as deep as the deepest RTS or strategic RPG you've played recently. Customizing your characters through leveling up or evolving them to more advanced forms is a critical choice you'll make as you play, but you always have the chance to reroll the dice and move your character to another part of the tree without penalty. Leveling up once you reach a form that works well with your style of play is a luxury you can't afford early in the game, if you hope to play a strong offense and defense against elemental enemies and strong boss opponents. You'll also have your hero development, but most of the advantage gained by having a hero along comes when you master special beats. Learning all the beats and knowing when to use them is a must. You'll have some new moves at your disposal this time around, and be tasked with making quicker decisions in response to the shifting tide of battle. Bosses especially require careful strategy; luckily, failing a level just means a play-over, not complete loss of all progress. The best new addition in Patapon 2 is multiplayer, using the hero characters for escapades with friends or with CPU compatriots. You'll earn special items during boss battles that can be used to grant powers to your heroes during these multiplayer sessions.