Patapon 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris
The commercial and critical success of Patapon made a sequel inevitable. When it arrived for PSPs in 2009, Patapon 2 was praised for being bigger and better than its predecessor, although it basically adhered to the same approach as the original. Kemmei Adachi and Daisuke Miyake returned to create the soundtrack for the game, offering a range of chant-focused gameplay themes and various additional tracks. Sony Computer Entertainment eventually presented the music as a downloadable soundtrack through iTunes.
Right from the first gameplay track "Kachinkoron's Theme", listeners are thrown back into familiar territory with the unchanged command combos and the rhythms for their input. Cue *drum intro", "Pata-Pata-Pata Pon" (forward), *drum rolls*, "Pon-Pon Pata-Pon" (attack). When presented for the soundtrack release, the first 45 seconds of such tracks sound almost identical to those on the first Patapon game. The seven themes that follow differ in their instrumental backing and vocal styles, but also adhere to the same structural basis. While the similarity can be comforting, there was plenty of room for Sony to shake up the score and gameplay with new combos, tempi, or other ideas. Through no fault of the composers, the features that were revolutionary in the original game became commonplace and gimmicky in the sequel.
There are two saving graces for the level themes in Patapon 2. One, after the prolonged introduction, the composers basically took an 'anything goes' approach to the wilder development sections of the themes. Daisuke Miyake's "Kachinkoron's Theme" springs into action with some wonderfully realised call-and-response passages between the returning lead actor Blico and the infant chorus. There's an even greater sense of freedom in Kemmei Adachi's Zunzunzun and Ponbekedatta, which shift away from the metronomic approach of Patapon's tracks in favour of a free-spirited show of enthusiasm. Such sections really capture the nature of Patapon's tribesmen and push the barriers of the Patapon sound. What's more, they bring some much-needed novelty to the soundtrack and challenge to the gameplay.
In addition, the instrumental backings are considerably richer and bolder than in the previous game. The particularly daring "Modamepon's Theme" will get heads bopping with its disco beats and powerful trumpets. Wuffunfa brings all sorts of excitement to the gameplay with its tuned percussion and chiptune decorations, whereas Totechitetan is filled with bright lyrical orchestration. For some of the most intense quests in the game, there is suitably moody accompaniment. The military orchestration and eerie chorus of "Pokkurimakka's Theme" make the Duel At Bababaan Gate all the more intimidating. "Totechitentan's Theme" is even darker with its dissonant piano work and piercing strings, both inspired by horror foundation. It's a peculiar backdrop to all the youthful chants, giving a somewhat desperate, tragic undertone to the missions.
Though fewer new level themes were composed for Patapon 2 than its predecessor, the soundtack does feature plenty of supplementary tracks. Used to open the game, the "Patapon Theme" is the series' catchiest and perkiest themes. It combines the series' trademark tribal chants with a pop flavour surprisingly similar to the Katamari series. Brief themes such as "The Mysterious Book", "Rainbow", and "Awakening ~Princess~" are very effective during the game's cinematics and give a storybook feel to the game. There are the bright and infectious themes used with the special Miracle and Don-Chaka commands, though they're a little nauseating in close succession, while the three "Kuruuru Dance Step" themes provide a dash of orchestral colour. As with Patapon, the final track ties together into a vibrant, hyper-catchy medley of the level themes.
In many ways, the music for Patapon 2 is more nourishing than the original thanks to its wider stylistic range and more experimental voices. But due to the constraints of the in-game approach, the soundtrack adheres so much to the original that it often lacks a firm voice of its own. The stand-alone experience especially suffers from these recycled ideas and most would be better off skipping this release in favour of either of the two other titles in the series.
Overall Score: 6/10