Probably Done Playing: Patchwork Heroes (PSP)

What I was hoping to get from Patchwork Heroes was essentially Qix with some clever artwork and asymmetrically shaped stages. Clamoring around massive airships, hacking away little chunks that the game calculated in size and percentage with colorful skyscapes flying by is about all I needed. Repeat a dozen times or more and that would’ve justified the $10 price tag for me. And everything was going great until about Stage 3. There’s a bunch of funny self-aware conversation and oddball antics going on in the brief intermissions and I love the vibrant patchworked art style but once the game started layering on new mechanics my interest fell apart quicker than a swiss cheesed airship.

The biggest problem I have with Patchwork Heroes is the timer. Unlike Qix, which may have docked you some points for taking a while to finish a stage, Patchwork Heroes gives you a maximum of maybe three minutes to get the job done. And you’re not just hacking apart the airships as you get past the first few missions, you’re also rescuing prisoners from barred windows or cutting around certain areas or objects. An increasing array of enemies and obstacles block your path and you’re also encouraged to finish with time to spare, without losing any of cutting crew (read: lives), and all prisoners rescued.

It’s another game brought to you by the PlayStation C.A.M.P. initiative that disappointed me with Trash Panic and Patchwork Heroes suffers the same fate in my book. With the painfully short timer always ticking away and so many goals to complete it becomes clear that this isn’t a game of exploration and haphazard fun but a game you’re meant to restart over and over until you discover the magical roadmap to success.

Cut from here to here, rescue this prisoner, now cut a chunk of this size, destroy every enemy along the way to build up your “mojo” power in order to cut through these metal plates, win. Deviate more than a little bit, fail.

I can’t help but screw around on each new stage, though, learning the ins and outs of a new airship, dodging enemies and trying to outdo myself on cutting away huge chunks. It always starts out fun but as I run out of time or miss my goals I restart repeatedly until I realize there’s only a few timely paths to take. By then it’s boiled down to a speedrun of perfectly timed button presses and that just isn’t enjoyable to me in the least.

It’s another game where the designer’s idea of fun and my own start out on the same page but wind up being as different as an encyclopedia and a comic book. I’m still looking forward to finishing Patchwork Heroes, it seems to be on perpetual pause as long as I keep the PSP juiced up, but it may only be a hollow victory for my backlog roster by the time I’ve mastered its demands of perfection.

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