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The Patapons, meanwhile, are an inspired creation. It's constantly amazing how, with the minimum of detail and expression and only a little animation, the developers have imbued their eyeball heroes with so much personality. Plus, whoever decided to give the Patapons a weird, distinctly British dialect for their comic-book speech bubbles deserves a huge pat on the back. Whether they're talking of spanking bottom or expressing their dismay at your poor timing, the Patapons are a hoot. Who couldn't love them when they spend half their time at camp (which serves as a hub between levels) praising you by name and talking up your victories! Credit, too, for the sound and music. Between the beats, the Patapons' chanting and the music that comes into play the more you prolong their fever, Patapon just sounds like an awful lot of fun.
Despite its difficulty level and a few minor grumbles - does the shout that signals a fever put everyone off their timing? - Patapon is exactly what I hoped it would be. It's the kind of game you get on the DS, but not nearly enough on the PSP; one that's quirky, imaginative, inventive and entertaining, and a perfect fit for the strengths and limitations of the hardware. It's arguably the closest thing the PSP has to Elite Beat Agents. You pick it up, you play it, and then you smile. Why on earth wouldn't you want some of that? Well, there are the sleepless nights and the way the beats still occupy your brain in the morning, but if that and £20 is the price for a little bottled happiness, I strongly suggest any PSP owners pay up.
The most enjoyable and original PSP game in ages. Patapon is a little too tricky to be perfect, but also it's deeper and more rewarding long-term than you might suspect.