The main characters of Patapon (set for release on Feb. 26) are strange little warrior dudes whose torsos are nothing but round, black circles with one big eyeball in the middle. You send them walking into dozens of battles against similar-looking dudes, plus dragons and fortresses. As you win each battle with hatchets, arrows, spears and magic, you gain points to grow more warriors out of a tree. Odd.
What makes Patapon unique and addictive is the look, sound and gameplay. Visuals are vibrant and flat, like paper-cut art or sleek graffiti art. And to make your little guys march, fight and shield themselves, you press a series of buttons as if you were banging different drumheads, on the beat, in sync with music.
Patapon is so fresh that it takes a few hours to figure out the right moves. It may also pose great challenges to players who can't keep a beat.