Now it’s the turn of the mighty juggernaut that is the Nintendo Switch to feel the pleasant balloon popping delight that only Pang can deliver.
The premise of the game is simple enough, in fact, it couldn’t be more simple. You take control of a small boy who has a harpoon gun (Health and safety wasn’t a thing back in ’89). Balloons fall from the top of the screen and you must pop them. It sounds simple on paper but once you pop one balloon, it then splits into two smaller balloons. This of course not only makes the playing area more hazardous (balloons kill you in this world) but also makes the targets much hard to hit. This creates the opportunity to strategies your balloon popping. For example. Do you take out the big balloons first, or do you get rid of the smaller more tricky ones to free up some precious screen space, but risky running out of time?
The tactics don’t stop there either. While you running crazy around the static screen, later levels bring more challenges, like walls that can change the directory of the balloons bounce, or creatures like crabs that if you time things right can help you out. There are also level obstacles too like closing walls (think trash compactor from Star Wars) Oh, and there is a strict time limit. So, with all that it can get quite intense. And to finish off, every 15 levels you get to face a boss… beat that and it’s on to the next country of the world map and more infernal balloons to pop.
Most of the time you will be in the story mode which lets you travel the globe in a quest to destroy the alien threat which is unleashing all these hellish balloons in the world. Thankfully to help you on your mission there are some power-ups that can add extra firepower to your harpoon gun. These can range from rapid-fire cannons to flamethrowers, shields and egg timers which can pause the bubbles on screen for short while. These are essential later on as the levels can get mad crazy, and if you ever want to try and beat that level score you’ll need to use everything at your disposal to rack up the combo total. It’s pretty intense stuff.
Perhaps the greatest part of Pang Adventures is that you can play the Tour mode with local co-op. Not only is it nice to see this old-fashioned gaming stable back, but of course is an absolutely perfect fit for the Switch and those clever little Joy-Cons. Not only do two players affect your score, but you can also help your buddy out if they are down, standing over your pal will allow his energy to fill up again, but of course in that time there are plenty of balloons going unpopped so just like the single player game. It’s a real balancing act to get your tactics just right.
Along with the multiplayer modes, there are a couple of other modes to make you pull even more of your hair out, the first is score mode which is unlocked once you have completed the Tour mode and then there is Panic Mode, which is like a survival mode kind of. This time you are given three lives to get as good a score as possible to reach the holy grail of level 99. These scores are then posted to online leaderboards so if you have that competitive urge (let’s face it, you’re a gamer so you must have) it’s a good way to keep you coming back to the game over and over.
Pang Adventuress is as simple a concept as you’re ever likely to find but at the same time one of the most frantic and strategical at the same time thanks to the various modes, power-ups, and level obstacles. The controls are tight and they need to be in a game of this nature. With movement handled by the left stick and firing taken care of by the A button. No more, no less.
The game is bright fun and colorful and has really bought to life a game that is over 25 years old. There is enough variety in the levels to stop it getting dull too quick and the power-ups are lifesavers, helping you to push to that next level or higher score. The boss battles are a welcome change to the action as well.
All in all Pang Adventures is a great remake of a classic. If I had one concern, it would be that the game can feel quite samey after a while, but for pick up and play fun-times it’s damn good fun and did leave me with hunger Pangs to play more….see what I did there?
Pang Adventures is available now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4 and PC now.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For more information, please see our review policy.