In addition to Patapon 3’s better-known enhancements — the tough-as-nails Super Hero Patapons, approximately 80 levels, the Pata-text chat system — the topic of multiplayer gameplay remains something of a mystery.
So while at the Tokyo Game Show, I jumped at the chance to speak with Hiroyuki Kotani, better known as the director of the Patapon series, to touch upon more details for his upcoming PSP rhythm-action game. I was particularly interested in how the new online multiplayer-centric gameplay would impact the game, as well as what new challenges the Patapons will face in their strange new surroundings.
Sid Shuman: Patapon 3’s visual style looks more sophisticated, how have you evolved the art style?
Hiroyuki Kotani, Director, Patapon 3: Along with the more epic theme, we changed the graphical style not only for the Superhero Patapon, but also for the backgrounds. The backgrounds in the previous games looked more flat and two-dimensional. But now in Patapon 3 you can feel much more atmosphere — it’s both more fantastic and more realistic.
The Patapon 3 environments (left) look more dynamic and three dimensional compared to Patapon 2’s flatter, simpler backgrounds (right).
SS: How are the enemies different? Are they bigger? Do they have any new ways to attack your Patapons?
HK: The monsters from the original game have some tricky new actions that are not nice to the Patapons. There will be many more different types of monsters in the game, though details can’t yet be released.
SS: How has multiplayer been expanded and improved for Patapon 3?
HK: The multiplayer part of Patapon 3 is what the team has worked on the most! For Patapon 2, we only offered ad-hoc Wifi connection, but we’re adding infrastructure Wifi play so you’ll be able to play with more people together — eight at once in Patapon 3.
But the biggest evolution for multiplayer is probably opening up the multiplayer stages. Patapon 2’s multiplayer was really limited, but in Patapon 3 you can play on almost all of the stages in multiplayer. That’s one of the biggest improvements.
SS: Will Patapon 3 implement a clan system or buddy system for keeping friends organized in the multiplayer modes?
HK: Unfortunately, I cannot say everything regarding all these details. But there will be a clan feature called “Team.” There will be single-player, of course, and cooperative play, and competitive play as well. The play styles will practically be infinite! This part of the game is still being worked on.
Patapon 3 will offer many more options for character customization, especially for the powerful Super Hero Patapons. All told, expect to see approximately twice the Patapon types.
SS: How will character customization be different in Patapon 3, and will that tie into multiplayer in any way?
HK: How you develop your characters is totally different from the previous games. I can’t say the exact number, but there will be more than double the Patapon types. So now you can be what you want to be! Also, in Patapon 3, you can earn experience points to level up your characters with new skills and abilities. Depending on what kind of skills you acquire, your final performance and effectiveness will be very different.
SS: Does Patapon 3 have more a narrative focus than past Patapon games?
HK: If they played the E3 demo, I can see how users would think that Patapon 3 is different. Patapon 3 will be different from the previous Patapon games, and it will be more dramatic because you are the playing as a hero, the Super Hero Patapon. Players can get more into the game for this reason — it will be a far more epic game.