Friday, January 4, 2019

Review: Pang Adventures [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Being a massive fan of classic arcade titles, especially shooters, I have a place in my heart for games like Pang (or Buster Bros depending). The mechanics are rock solid and there’s both a timing and almost a puzzle-like challenge to some levels as you need can’t just randomly have bubbles everywhere. Add in the classic weapons, whether the double hooks, the gun, or the grappling hook and you have a classic good time on your hands. Now, with the world under attack, the Buster Bros have been called on once more, in need of some precision bubble popping but with some new twists as well.


I was thrilled last year when I played The Bug Butcher, a shooter with somewhat similar base mechanics, but a juiced up pace and challenge. While Pang Adventures adheres much more closely to the original formula that isn’t to say they’ve not made any changes. New tricky lightning bolt balloons that drop an electric charge that will kill you if you don’t move out of the way and even some clever boss fights are among a handful of welcome additions and tweaks to the game. Another great element of the game is the ability to take it with a friend, meaning you’ll have help with the popping but just be sure everyone’s on the same page or that can just mean added chaos.


In terms of issues probably the biggest one is that if you weren’t a fan of Pang in the first place or perhaps have never heard of it this may not be able to do much to change your mind. Unlike many other titles with directional shooting the core mechanics of Pang demand that you really only shoot straight up in the air. While that may make it seem simplistic rather than the skill being so much in aiming with Pang you need to be focused on timing, positioning yourself carefully, and coming up with some smart techniques for chaining bubble pops as they break apart. While fans of the series with feel right at home with this, and it all feels just like the originals, I’ll admit it isn’t a style for everyone.


Complementing already solid shooting gameplay with a terrific graphical overhaul, some smart new elements, and a provision for local co-op Pang Adventures is a joy for a vintage gamer like me to play. Familiar and yet modern, challenging and yet fair, it starts out a bit slowly but doesn’t take too long before it starts making you work to complete those levels. Remaking classics is undoubtedly a challenge, forcing you to balance a sense of nostalgia with a need to keep things fresh. For the most part the folks at DotEmu have knocked this one out of the park, and with it’s pocketbook-friendly price it’s easy to recommend to any retro gaming or shooting fan.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • Maintains the classic feel but add some modern touches
  • Local co-op adds to the fun
  • I love the boss battles, they’re definitely a welcome addition

Cons:
  • Toes the line, perhaps erring a little too much on the side of keeping things more as they were
  • Increases in difficulty more from a puzzle and strategy standpoint than action, this is in contrast to something like The Bug Butcher that mostly does the opposite, making it a toss up between the two depending on your preference