Game Review #121: Pang Adventures (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Reviewer: Allan J.
Category: Arcade, Puzzle, Multiplayer, Action
Release Date: 1.3.2019
Price (at time of review): $9.99
Buy Pang Adventures from the Nintendo eShop here.
A Brief History of Pang…
I previously reviewed a game called The Bug Butcher, a vertical shooter where you destroy alien bug-balls falling at you from above and bouncing around trying to kill you. Sound familiar? If so, it’s probably because The Bug Butcher showed more than a mere subtle hint as to the game from which it drew its inspiration… Pang! Pang (Released as Buster Bros. in NA) first came to us in the arcade way back in 1989. Pang itself has seen some changes throughout the years—mostly graphical, as the gameplay has remained mostly the same—in the form of Super Pang on the SNES (Super Buster Bros. NA), Pang! 3 in the arcade (Buster Buddies NA), and now, Pang Adventures, which I will be reviewing today!
I am a fan of vertical shooters. I may be better at these than I am at a lot of other side-scrolling shooters, but I am still not signing up for any tournaments any time soon. That said, I found Pang Adventures to be a very challenging game, but not impossible.
The basic premise is—and has pretty much always been—that there are aliens attacking us, and our heroes need to fly around the world to battle them, rescuing our planet from otherwise certain death from above. You play our heroes, two brothers equipped with harpoons who are ready to start stabbing some aliens. Alien bouncy balls of varying sizes are dropped down from above, and you must shoot the balls with your harpoons to destroy them, all while making sure to avoid even a single one of them touching you, as you have single-hit deaths.
In The Bug Butcher, you have a life meter that allows you to take a few hits before dying. I had not personally played any of the Pang/Buster Bros. games prior to playing The Bug Butcher, so I did not truly know how much to appreciate the courtesy yet. The original formula put in place by the great Pang ancestry, however, did not care about my feelings. One hit. That’s it. You touch, you die. It really puts things in perspective for you.
I mentioned before that Pang Adventures is challenging, but not impossible. The statement is true, but it does not mean that you will not die. A lot. Luckily, the restarts of the level are very fast, and you do not have to sit through any load times, because that would be the majority of gameplay time right there! I have yet to be able to beat the Tour Mode of this game, which is where you fly around the world, country by country, defeating the alien swarms. The challenges are just too hard to get through quickly. I am confident that, with time, I will get good enough to make it to the end, but unless this review is slated for a few months down the road, I don’t think I can wait that long to write it!
The second of the three game modes is Score Mode. This mode is only unlocked when you beat Tour Mode, so I have not yet unlocked it. It is the same thing as Tour Mode but without unlimited lives. Instead, you get three lives, and no continues, so basically you can experience what it would be like back in the arcade! I am obviously not ready for this mode yet, so I will keep working at it.
The third mode, which was easily unlocked, thankfully, is Panic Mode. This is where you basically play until you die. Wave after wave after wave of alien balls drop from above, and you just see how long you can stay alive. I liked this mode because it just sucks you into the experience, and you get into the zone for a while. I almost do better this way, because I don’t have to pause for the changes to the next level, so I stay a little more fixated on the action.
Controls are nothing complicated. They are quite responsive, and I really never felt hindered by them. Any death I suffered was the result of my own slow reflexes or bad timing. The power-ups are dropped at a reasonable rate too, which is nice. It never gives you so many things that you can’t get to all of them in time to use them, and it never keeps you hanging for too long without a little something to keep it interesting. From machine guns to flamethrowers, to shields and time-freezes, the power-ups were pretty well-rounded and were usually dropped in very appropriate situations.
The boss battles were pretty decent too. Nothing too rage-inducing, but still quite a challenge to defeat. Honestly, the bosses didn’t trip me up near as much as the electric balls. You can’t be standing underneath where you shot them, because they send an electric jolt down the harpoon cable that kills you… so you really have to bob and weave quite a bit to clear a stage completely littered with the little bastards! Even if you freeze time, they still send a jolt down, so you can’t even speed-clear the buggers that way!
Visually, Pang Adventures is beautifully done! The textures are smooth and crisp, the colors are vibrant and pop right off the screen… this is basically what we would have imagined in our heads as kids that our SNES games should have looked like! The sounds are well-crafted, and the soundtrack has a very CAPCOM-style feel to it. The overall presentation is about as good as I could even ask it to be. It is a very pleasing package, both visually and auditory.
From the moment I saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to play this game. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even dying as much as I did. If you have ever played any of the Pang/Buster Bros. games before and enjoyed them, then there’s a fairly good chance you will enjoy Pang Adventures as well. I would definitely recommend this game as a great addition to anyone’s Switch library.
Buy Pang Adventures from the Nintendo eShop here.
*Review Code Provided by Tinsley PR