Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pang!


In case you didn't realise the title by now.


I have to admit to having a fondness for the 80s and 90s era of arcade gaming. Those who've ready read a lot of my blog/account/mindless-gibberish, will likely realise that I enjoy arcade gaming a lot and that I'm quite upset about its decline when the home console became an equal strength machine and then surpassed it. Leaving it just to be fruit machines, gimmick machines with guns/riding implements, coin-shovers and dancey dancey prancey trancey bollocks. However let's go back to 1990 and marvel at the wonder that is Pang!


Now that I've been to this location, am I assured to die in the near future?
The game is simple enough. You have your character running back and forth in his stereotypical hunting outfit (which suits for all locations from the top of Mt Fuji, to the frozen ice wastelands, to the Taj Mahal and beyond) and pop balloons. Apparently the world has been overrun with large bouncing ball/balloons and you (and possibly another berk) are armed with wire guns with points on the end and must hunting down and pop all the balloons.

Yes, your character is a prick.

Sounds simple and it is. Each balloon that is popped, will split into two smaller balloons until they're down to the smallest possible that bounces just high enough to sneak under at the apex of it's trajectory. These are removed from the game when popped. Larger balls can break into two and drop powerups ranging from double shot, trip wires, guns, shields, extra lives (rare, but true!) clocks to freeze the balloons and timers to increase the level limit.

Yep, still a prick.

Taking a single touch off the balloons while not shielded will end your life while your character takes a dive higher and faster and harder than any premiership footballer earning more in a week than the rest of us do in 5 years. Not only do you see the ultimate drama queen of amateur theatrics but you have to start the whole level over. Worse in 2 player as you BOTH stop if ONE gets killed by a balloon.

See the world and pop balloons. That's a lot of text to read in 10 seconds AND process it AND make an informed choice upon.

Aiding and hindering you, are the various creatures. Some will paralyse you, some will go so far as to pop balloons for you (usually right beside you to make the split-off land on you, some will just hit your wires and cause you to stop your shot and some... I've never realised what they do other than get really annoying. Perhaps that is the sole purpose of those creatures.

Trust me, it gets a lot harder, later on.

Musically there's some very upbeat tunes, the "hurry up" music isn't particularly overbearing and almost creeps into the game unlike say in Bubble Bobble where gameplay is stopped and a large klaxon goes off. The sounds are fairly solid with balloons popping with enough impact to make it feel like an accomplishment. The weapons firing have their own near-trademark recognition factor into them while the rest of the sounds are mildly muted pops squeaks and clomps. Nothing outstanding but at the same time nothing really below average either.

Some levels go for the platform approach and make it virtually impossible to avoid balloons unless you're quick.

It's nice to see some recognition has gone into the game for its locations and landmarks. Each level is 3 arenas at a specific landmark and at least the team responsible managed to make it look roughly like the landmark it's meant to represent. It's a purely graphical touch and has no impact on the gameplay but it's nice to see some effort went into it, despite the background having no actual bearing on the level or the layout of platforms and ladders.

It's just a balloon you fucking weakling!
As for a challenge, you can skip the first 18 or so levels at the start of a new game and go half way through the game from the off. A nice addition for those that already know the game and can bypass the easier levels, but the trade off is that you miss the chance to gain the points to give you lives to survive the later levels. However if you're that good in the first place, you shouldn't need the lives. Though later levels do become more difficult with blocks and platforms placed in such a manner as to make it more awkward to get past the bouncing targets and navigate towards things like the power ups and random foods that boost your scores.

New levels, new locations, new layouts, new challenges, same balloons.

There's a good challenge to this platform puzzler but once you've beaten it (if...) then you may not want to come back to it again. Some will, but that some won't be very many at all.