A lot of gamers who have been around for a while remember the Pang name from the SNES game Super Pang, although that doesn’t hold true for American gamers since the game was renamed to Super Buster Brothers there. That wasn’t the first time we saw the game though, because it originally came out in arcades in 1989 and versions for the Atari ST, Amiga and a bunch of other systems followed the next year.
In fact, Pang was one of my favorite Atari ST games back in the day – its simple and addictive formula made me come back as often as I needed to in order to complete it. Now it’s over 25 years later and the formula hasn’t changed for Pang Adventures, out now for PS4, Xbox One, Steam and mobile devices. Each one of the 100 or so levels sees you in charge of popping all the balloons on screen using a variety of weapons you can pick up along the way. As in the original, therea are harpoons, guns and laser beams aplenty here.
There are a few things that complicate matters though. First off, balloons aren’t instantly destroyed. Large balloons break up into two slightly less large balloons, and those break up when hit, until you end up with two tiny balloons that you can actually destroy. Pop too many giant balloons and before you know it, you’ll be left with tons of small balloons. This wouldn’t be a big issue in itself, but all the balloons (big or small) bounce across the screen constantly, and it’s up to you to avoid them – a task that’s increasingly hard when there’s a dozen or so balloons on screen.
Making things a little more difficult, bigger balloons also have more bounce than smaller ones do – and you can only really get under the smaller ones at the peak of their bounce. This makes for some tight spots, as you move out of the way of one balloon only to see another one come in a fraction later. Add some relatively basic platforming to the mix and you’ve got a few hectic situations ahead of you. That’s pretty much the whole premise for the game, although there’s a globe-trotting element to it as well. This doesn’t change much for the actual gameplay though – you’re mainly looking at different backdrops and subtle changes in level layouts.
The game is still fun, even after all these years – and it plays like the original arcade game did. Or in my case: like the original Atari ST game did. However, its “arcadey” nature is also its weakest point. Back in the arcade days, a lot of titles were just games you wanted to get through – wasting a few quarters on them to get to the end and then never looking back. It’s a lot of fun getting there, but there’s not that much to draw you back in. Hopefully the Pang formula will get some spinoff modes included in the next version of the franchise that can help remedy this. For now, this is a fun game – especially for those who remember the original – but don’t expect the fun to last.