Patapon mixes elements of strategy titles and the rhythm game genre in a unique 2D side-scrolling look. The player assumes the role of a deity and commands his troops with the use of four drums as they move through the environment from left to right. The game was released to very positive reviews and several sequels have been released.
The once great warrior tribe of the Patapons has lost its pride after succumbing to the rivaled Zigotons. New hope sparks, however, when one of the tribe members finds their long lost war drums and, with them, their new-found god, who would henceforth guide their fate using those drums. With their courage rekindled, they fight back the rivaled Zigoton tribe and embark on a long journey across the world, that would lead them to Earthend. There, they hope to find “IT”, a legendary object whose actual appearance or purpose is yet unknown.
From within the Patapon's campground, the player can build his or her army from three squads out of the game's six unit types and can even individually outfit the soldiers with scavenged or forged armor pieces and weapons. Using the game's currency called “ka-ching” as well as optional materials, it's also possible to revive fallen warriors or create new ones. The player can then call to arms and select any of the previously unlocked environments to either progress with the story, confront optional boss monsters or gather resources to improve his or her army by hunting the local wildlife. A number of mini-games are also unlocked over the course of the game that can grant rare items and equipment upon successful completion.
During actual combat, the player only has indirect control over the Patapons and instructs them using four drums assigned to the PSP's face buttons. Following the game's four-four time, players use specific drumming sequences to order commands like “advance” (“Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon”) or “attack” (“Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon”) which the troops will immediately carry out while singing the respective tune. Over the course of the game, the player can discover up to five different songs to widen his or her options in battle. Successfully stringing together commands without missing a beat will eventually activate a fever mode during which the Patapons are dealing additional damage and are themselves more sustainable to enemy attacks. In fever mode, one can also initiate several wonders that influence the weather to the Patapon's advantage like turning the wind to improve the range of archers.
There are a variety of unites in Patapon, and the player must wisely select units to be most effective.
- Hatapon - Hatapon is the first unit you get, and does not engage in combat. He carries around the flag, and if he dies, then the mission is a failure.
- Yaripon - Yaripons carry spears into battle, which throw their spear at foes. They are the unit the player initially is given control of. They excel in hunting and fishing. In fever, their attack range increases when they jump up in the air.
- Tatepon - Axe and sword wielding patapons, and the primary melee units. Tatepons have limited range and are not very useful in hunting, but they excel in defense because of their shields. In fever, their shields are bigger.
- Yumipon - Yumipons are the best long-range units in the game, wielding a bow and arrow. They are always placed behind the rest of your patapon forces, where they send a barrage off arrows at their targets. In fever mode, their rate of fire triples.
- Dekapon - Big, brutish patapons who carry maces. Very slow, but do tremendous damage. In fever mode, they will smash the ground, stunning enemies caught in the blow's radius.
- Kibapon - Kibapon are cavalry patapons who ride horses and wield halberds. They will do massive damage, and knock back their targets. They are relatively ineffective when not in fever mode, where they gain great speed and power.
- Megapon- Megapons carry around a horn and play music in battle. They have a number of abilities, and their tunes will materialize to deal damage. In fever, they will do a charge up attack.
Pata-Pata-Pata-Pon (Square, Square, Square, Circle)
This command simply makes the patapons march forward.
Pon-Pon-Pata-Pon (Circle, Circle, Square, Circle)
This beat orders patapons to attack the enemy.
(While in Fever Mode)
Don, Don-Don, Don-Don
Chaka-Chaka-Pata-Pon (Triangle, Triangle, Square, Circle)
Patapons will hold back, taking a defensive formation
Pon-Pata-Pon-Pata (Circle, Square, Circle, Square)