Pang Adventures proves that there’s a reason that simplicity is addictive and stands the test of time. The latest addition in the Pang gaming franchise – you may know it as Buster Bros – Pang Adventures takes what makes the series so maddeningly addictive, adds just a dash of new flavours to the broth and unleashes it out the door in a game that many may unfairly miss.
During a much deserved rest after saving the world’s cities and major landmarks from a previous alien invasion, the Pang Brothers are called back into action when the aliens return with new and improved attack balls! So grab your harpoon gun, a friend if you can and get ready to save the world! Again!
Choosing from one of the two brothers, you – and possibly another player if you’re so inclined – are placed on a stage with a whole bunch of balls that you have to destroy. The balls come in three sizes; large, medium and small. Popping the large ball turns it into two medium ones, each of which pops into two small ones. It starts off simple enough to get you used to the way it plays before adding some wrinkles to the mix by placing platforms in the stages and the way in which the balls are arranged at the start of a stage. Throw in some new weapons, a time limit and environmental hiccups like seagulls and crabs and you have a premise that stays simple, yet becomes complicated quickly.
Pang is very much a puzzle shooter that relies on strategy as much as quick reflexes. Before you know it, the screen can be filled to the brim with bouncing balls. Wildly firing and popping balls is usually a quick recipe for death, oftentimes placing you at the mercy of the games incredibly strict time limits as well as limited room to manoeuvre. Take into account that you can’t move while firing which leaves you vulnerable and you’re usually having to adjust your strategies on the fly.
New weapons are introduced during the campaign, such as a double harpoon gun, a machine gun and even a flamethrower, but their inclusion at any level is an indicator that you should be using them to achieve optimal popping. Power-ups also drop in certain stages, such as a one-hit shield or an hourglass to freeze time temporarily. Like the weapons, they’re there for a reason. Crabs and birds also appear and they both help and frustrate you as they can pop the balls as well so it’s an even mix between them complicating a stage to saving you from a stray ball. Thankfully there’s no loading a level each time you die – which will be a lot – and you can just jump right back in to try again. And you will because it’s just that damn addictive.
The game has three modes: Tour Mode, Score Mode and Panic Mode.
Tour Mode is the story mode which takes you across more than ninety levels in various invasion hotspots on the globe. At the end of each location fifteen levels, you’ll get to fight a boss that has multiple weak spots to hit while avoiding spawning balls and on a time limit. In keeping with the older games as well, the difficulty continues to ramp up the further you go.
Score Mode places you in classic Pang mode with three lives and no continues to rack up the highest score you can. You’ll be playing Tour Mode’s levels but the emphasis is on high scores.
Panic Mode drops you into a ninety-nine level continuous run of neverending balls and increasing difficulty, also with three lives though you can earn more at different score levels or by popping balls containing a 1up.
Visually Pang Adventures is a gorgeous piece of 2D art. The colours and designs are bright and cheerful and the 2D sprites pop off the screen. Thankfully it doesn’t push the Switch hardware at all, even with all that can be happening onscreen in the later levels.
As games get more graphically ambitious with more systems at play in the background and for you as a player to handle, the simplicity of Pang Adventures is a breath of fresh air. With its clean visuals and addictive just-one-more-go gameplay, Pang Adventures is a wonderful sequel to a classic franchise that easily stands alongside its forebears.
You can purchase Pang Adventures on Switch here for £8.99
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