Dozens of PlayStation fans have spent years dreaming about a new Patapon game, the rhythm-based strategy series for the Playstation Portable that mixed shades of Pikmin and Guitar Hero. That’s probably never happening, but creator Hiroyuki Kotani is back with the next best thing: a spiritual successor called Ratatan that looks better than fans could have hoped for. Those fans are now throwing their money at him on Kickstarter.
Patapon was a mild sensation on the PSP when it arrived in North America in 2008. A colorful side-scrolling adventure where you control little warriors with musical cues as they adventure through the wilderness and take on increasingly difficult and complex bosses, the small Sony Japan Studio project won a BAFTA and IGN’s best PSP game of the year, among other accolades. Sequels added multiplayer, additional unit types, and more gameplay mechanics. Then we never heard from it again. Until now.
Kotani announced the series’ unlikley return via a new game at BitSummit in Japan last week. Ratatan brings back the hand-drawn side-scrolling action, satisfying damage numbers, and catchy percussion based tunes to which you can lead your armies. The biggest difference is that the creaturs now sing “RATA RATA RATATAN” instead of “PATA PATA PATAPON.” If you’re me, the trailer is one of those things you spot out of the corner of your eye while clicking through a dozen tabs a minute and instantly realize you have to watch:
Original Patapon musician Kemmei Adachi will contribute to Ratatan, and the game aims to offer an “expansive online multiplayer gameplay experience.” Which brings us to the Kickstarter. Launched earlier today, it’s already raised the requested amount of $141,098 in under an hour, and currently sits at over $240,614. It’s slated to arrive on PC sometime in 2025, with a stretch goal of $527,000 to bring the game to consoles.
Of course, while the Kickstarter’s success proves hardcore fans’ enduring love for the offbeat indie franchise, it also raises all sorts of red flags in the year 2023. You don’t have to look far to point to crowdfunding campaigns by designers of cult classics that either ended up being really bad or never shipping. More recently, successful Kickstarters are often just the first step toward getting the publisher support needed to actually take a project over the finish line longterm.
“There’s a possibility of maybe doing a Patapon sequel in the future, but for this we really wanted to make our own game, in our own style, with specific types of gameplay that reflect what we want,” Kotani told VGC. “After that, if there’s a chance to speak to Sony about doing a Patapon sequel then we’ll go from there.”
Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t seem very interested in publishing those types of projects lately. Sony’s Japan Studio was dismantled in 2021, and the PS5-maker seems increasingly focused on big budget blockbusters and live service games to the near exclusion of everything else. Hopefully, Ratatan ultimately ships on time and is good, proving the spirit of some of those projects can live on even without Sony’s support.