Pang Adventures Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Android, PC, iPad, iPhone, Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One
Pang was never meant to be a game that would change the landscape of gaming, let alone garner wide appeal. It’s a simple side-scrolling game with simple mechanics, weapons and power-ups and an even more straightforward premise: pop all the balloons and do so as quickly as possible. It’s in this simplicity, however, where the game gained critical acclaim for delivering fast-paced gameplay which entices the player to keep on dropping coins. Pang Adventures delivers the same bubble-bursting experience with plenty of new tricks to make it a worthwhile console purchase.
Pang Adventures finally answers the question that every Pang player has ever asked: “Why are bubbles bouncing around important monuments across the world?” The answer, of course, is alien invaders! Otherworldly beings have flooded Earth’s biggest cities with deadly bubbles and it's up to the Pang brothers to pop them all up before the timer runs out. For the first time ever, players are able to choose between the Red and Blue Pang brother before setting off on a globetrotting adventure to burst the alien’s bubble once and for all. Each location comprises of 15 days which all need to be cleared before being able to move on. It all starts off in Bora Bora where the brothers have to pop the same bubbles from the classic arcade version with their iconic vertical firing harpoon guns. Bigger bubbles split up into two smaller ones and those can be further divided into two even smaller ones. It takes three split-ups before they’re completely destroyed. All the powerups and weapons make a glorious return, from the rapid firing machine gun to the time-stopping hourglass, which freezes time, and the energy shield, which protects the player from a single hit. The nostalgia factor isn’t the only thing Adventures shoots for, though, as the game does introduce an array of interesting new mechanics.
Most notable are the bubble-themed alien boss battles that take place in between locations. Each of them is staged on top of the brothers’ Pang plane. Here the game makes interesting use of familiar bubble busting mechanics which require both crowd management and precision shots in order to bring each boss to a state where they can be attacked directly. Each boss fight will test the player’s skills built up throughout the previous stages making each battle feel fresh and unique. Furthermore, each location has its own type of bubbles, such as hyperfast moving bubbles, exploding time bomb bubbles, and bubbles that drop damaging lightning when hit. These variations add a welcome layer of variety and depth to the game which the original Pang would have potentially been critiqued as lacking in this more demanding age of gaming. New weapons are also added to make the bubble popping adventure that much more exciting. Burning down a massive horde of fast-moving bubbles will definitely satisfy bubble wrap enthusiasts. Finally, the game also introduces critters to the fray which can both assist and hinder the player in dispatching the bouncing inflated menaces. We had fun watching bubbles get burst in droves by the pincers of friendly crabs.
Beyond the campaign, Pang Adventures comes with two additional modes that become available as the player progresses through the story. Panic mode is unlocked fairly early on and it’s a survival mode done Pang-style. The player has three replenishable lives and must deal with hordes upon hordes of bubbles of different variations that appear in ever-changing combinations. Power-ups are still available to make things easier but the challenge is definitely there for those who want to test their bubble popping prowess. Completing the campaign unlocks Score mode where the player completes levels in an attempt to improve their high score. Speed is of the essence in this mode as well as creativity and efficiency in destroying bubbles because the more time that’s left on the clock, the more extra points are earned. Naturally, all modes can be played in both single and two player mode. We fully expect the arguments on who gets to be Blue to be fierce.
Pang Adventures takes the fun bubble popping gameplay of the classic arcade game and takes into a whole new realm. With a story mode, boss battles, new mechanics and bubble types, and some fun modes to add to its replayability this blast-from-the-past title shows off how a classic which has stood the test of time can still be further improved to appease the gamer of 2019. Now bring back Bubble Bobble!