Game: Patchwork Heroes
Genre: Action puzzler
Release date: 2010
True story: This digital-only game, which is called Hyakumanton no Bara Bara in Japan and earned a full-on retail release in that country, is one of a small handful of titles that prompted me to pick up a PSP nearly three years ago.
Do I regret that decision now that I've finally (and fully) played through this portable puzzler? Not at all. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's one of my favorite PSP-exclusive games (of the ones I've experienced, of course).
Heavily responsible for that, I have to sheepishly admit, are the superficial aspects of Patchwork Heroes--i.e., how the game looks and sounds. The former especially rocks my world--thanks to the colorful, textured and textile-filled art style used by Acquire's designers--although the latter's Middle Eastern-influenced soundtrack is nothing to sneeze at.
That's not to suggest Patchwork Heroes is a completely superficial experience. On the contrary, its gameplay and even story--something that isn't always a priority when it comes to puzzlers--more than hold their own against its music and graphics.
How so? Well, players are shoved into the shoes of a blue-hatted lad named Titori and then tasked with protecting his hometown from a never-ending stream of colossal, bomb-wielding warships, for starters. As for how they're supposed to accomplish all of that: Titori is flown up to said ships, latches onto them and then brings them down by cutting them into pieces. (You do this by pressing your PSP's O button and then moving its analog nub in the direction you'd like to slice.)
Frankly, it feels a lot like Taito's classic coin-op title, Qix, turned on its head, which is a treat for folks like me who grew up on such games. (Don't worry, it's sure to be a treat for those who've never experienced it, too.)
All of the above is sure to make Patchwork Heroes sound easier than it is, so let's get one thing straight: This game is not a push-over, nor is it simple. While you're cutting apart the giant ships that are threatening the protagonist's idyllic hamlet, for instance, you've also got to save a number of your fellow citizens who have, for some reason or other, become imprisoned within the advancing contraptions. Also, each ship is equipped with various forms of defense, all of which do their best to keep you from attaining your goal--and often succeed, if you're anything like me.
Thankfully, a variety of power-ups pop up on occasion to aid you in your quest, although to assume that they'll help in any significant fashion would be the definition of foolish. Still, any form of assistance is welcome while working through Patchwork Heroes' story and challenge modes.
None of them assist this title's other possible shortcoming, unfortunately--with that shortcoming being the utensils that are used to control it (i.e., your PSP's analog nub and directional pad). Neither option makes Patchwork Heroes anywhere near unplayable, but both do their best to get in the way of things on a regular basis.
If you can get past that and the stiff challenge, though, you're sure to find this digital release to be more than worth its $9.99 price tag and a welcome addition to your PSP game collection.
See also: Previous 'somewhat gay' reviews