Review: Patchwork Heroes

PatchworkHeroes.jpg

From Acquire and the genius minds at Sony’s Japan Studio who brought us quirky gems like LocoRoco and Patapon comes Patchwork Heroes, a download-only PSP game that sees you sawing apart giant, airborne warships before they bomb innocent towns to smithereens.

The concept behind Patchwork Heroes stems from the developers wanting to create a game that simulated the sensation of cutting through paper with scissors. Instead of paper, though, the game has you cutting up airships, and in place of scissors is a tiny, ant-sized hero wielding a saw. Sounds silly and weird and shallow, I know. But it’s really quite brilliant.

During play, the game’s top-down god view makes it feel like you’re controlling a termite chomping away at sheets of wood. Each of the game’s 30 missions requires you to cut away at a flying battleship and bring it down to size before the timer runs out, and to start sawing simply hold down the Circle button and guide the hero along with the analog stick (the D-pad works too, but tracing cut lines is a lot smoother with the analog stick). The controls can be a bit fiddly at times, in that you’ll get stuck on rough edges every once in a while or cut a line and end up on the side of the cut opposite of what you intended. But these really are minor grievances — the game is a joy to play overall.

As you’re sawing away, onboard enemies do whatever they can to stop you, whether they are missile launchers, robotic bug creatures or repair bots that patch up what’s been cut away if you aren’t quick enough. By lopping off ship sections containing enemies, you gain fuel for your Mojo power, which allows you to move faster and cut through metal supports that are otherwise impenetrable. The ships themselves are designed like mazes too, and some come with special objectives that need to be met, such as keeping a specific ship area intact or collecting ship parts without sawing them off. So, there’s a lot of planning involved as the stages become larger and more difficult. It also helps to saw off large chunks, since ships temporarily stall when they lose a lot of mass in a single cut.



Rescuing fellow comrades is another key element to the gameplay. Some of your friends are jailed up on each airship, and by rescuing them you gain two advantages. First, every comrade you’ve rescued serves as an extra life, that way if you get hit by an enemy one of your friends steps in to take the bullet. Secondly, freed companions can be sacrificed to lay down a time bomb, which is helpful if you need to get a pesky robot off your trail or blow through metal when your Mojo juice is on empty.

Graphically, the game looks like some sort of kooky kindergarten arts and crafts project, as if a group of kids created the world with colored pencils, modeling clay and construction paper cutouts. The accompanying soundtrack is also great, blaring the whimsical sounds of a carnival or amusement park through the PSP’s speakers with tremendous enthusiasm.

Content certainly isn’t an issue either, with the game’s 30 story missions clocking in around four to five hours on normal difficulty and many other features, such as tutorials, time attack modes for each level, numerous collectibles/unlockables, multiple difficulties and an optional challenge mode, providing ample replay incentive.

From gameplay to aesthetics, Patchwork Heroes captures the addictive simplicity of a classic arcade game, yet is also layered with many subtleties that give it more of a modern breadth of challenge. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience, and that uniqueness carries it a long way. Of course, the fact that the game is a heck of a lot of fun sure doesn’t hurt!

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Fun, unique gameplay
+ Distinct visual style
+ A lot of content and gameplay for the spend

Cons:
– Controls can be a bit fiddly

Game Info:
Platform: PSP via PSN
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Acquire / PlayStation C.A.M.P.!
Release Date: 3/18/2010
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

[nggallery id=1377]

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!