Patapon 2: Donchaka drops in Japan on November 27, 2008, Thanksgiving! What perfect timing – give PSP owners something to be thankful for. So it is no surprise that a demo of the game has appeared on the Japanese PlayStation store, ready to be downloaded with anyone who has a Japanese PlayStation store account.
I downloaded Patapon 2: Donchaka last night, using my Japanese PlayStation account and my faithful PSP. Its a fairly substantial download, coming in at 87mb, but it only took between 10~15 minutes to download and install the demo on my system.
The demo begins with a bit of exposition, showing the Patapons and Zigoton building a ship and crossing the ocean in search of “IT”. Unfortunately, there was a storm, and this kraken like creature and, well, the ship crashed. You begin with only one drum, Pon (circle), which you use to awaken Hatapon, that flag bearing leader of the Patapon army who happens to by lying next to the wreaked ship. Once he awakens, he gives you the Pata (square) drum. The two of you then decide to search the area for survivors, and find three Yaripon and Princess Meden. There are also some stranged, masked people near Princess Meden when you arrive, but they back off once they see the Yaripon and Hatapon.
You then go through some basic missions, to reintroduce you to the gameplay elements and see how Patapon 2: Donchaka is different than the original. The demo missions are basically the actual game’s introduction, so think of it as a taste of what it will actually be like. The first is a standard hunting mission, except this time there’s a thunderstorm, its near the ocean and the four kacheeks you encounter are incredibly easy to defeat.
The second is a basic battle mission, where you fight against the stranged, red masked inhabitants you saw checking out Princess Meden earlier. You also have a temporarily rare Patapon warrior join your party for this endeavor.
After that, is a mini-boss fight. You find a mysterious Patapon trapped under a rock, and a Dodonga approaches. You fight him, and after a few of his attacks he will break the rock trapping the unknown Patapon, and is then defeated by him. You also receive your first egg. Eggs are a new Patapon 2: Donchaka gameplay feature where you join up with four friends to play in time and hatch the egg to get items.
I was impressed by Patapon 2: Donchaka. It seemed much easier to get into the game’s rhythms. An interesting change was, if you used perfect timing, your last beat would sound slightly different – like it was accented more. It also seemed much easier to achieve and maintain Fever, but I don’t know if this will extend over to the actual game. The demo/tutorial segment also moved quickly, and by the end of the third mission you had the Pata, Pon and Chaka drums.
I was also struck by the music. Now, Patapon was catchy and had great little tunes and background music, but it can’t compare to the snippits I heard throughout the Patapon 2: Donchaka demo. It sounds more stylized, and seems more reminiscent of the Loco Roco music than ever before, but don’t worry, this is a good thing.
The Patapon’s chanting has changed a bit as well. Sometimes, after you’d complete the last combo to reach Fever, the Patapons would let out a series of joyful shouts. This would sometimes distract me, making me lose count and then lose the Fever state. In the Patapon 2: Donchaka demo, the chants seemed a tad more subdued. They’re still cute and there, but they aren’t as distracting as they were in the original Patapon.
Patapon 2: Donchaka also maintains Patapon‘s unique art style which set the game apart. I noticed that some of the background environments seemed a tad more vibrant in the Patapon 2: Donchaka demo though, and there was a bit more color. This was especially true in the opening and the first hunting mission, where you can see the ocean in the background.
Another thing that struck me as I played was how much English there was in the demo. It seems like Patapon 2: Donchaka won’t be a terribly difficult game to translate. Perhaps we’ll even see an English release of it within the first two quarters of 2009. As is, it makes it very easy to play through and enjoy the demo of what looks to be a fantastic sequel.