Pang logo

Publisher: Ocean
Price: £24.99

Dig out your Safari hat when playing Pang, but if you're into bloodsports forget it. In keeping with the sweet nature of Pang the animals have been substituted with a series of bright, cheerful and cute bouncing balloons.

The fun starts when you manage to strike the balloons with the futuristic harpoon you're armed with, as an impact the spheres divide into smaller balloons. These bounce at varying speeds and cost you a life if you're unfortunate enough to be hit by one.

Your mission is to wipe the bouncing bunnies off the face of the screen in order to progress in the game. There is a time limit though, which becomes tighter as you move through the levels, displayed at the top right hand corner of the screen.

To make your task more interesting, the balloons are well traveled and you have to seek them out in 17 locations from Japan to the island of Paques. There are 50 levels and although the scenery varies from the mountains of Mt. Fuji to skyscrapers in New York, it isn't particularly striking.

The platforms which contain the bouncing balls are rather like Arkanoid. Until such times as you've worked out which direction to attack, it seems a little out of place in this game.

What does work well in the scenery is the generous use of colour as there are 32 background colours to sheer up the dullest of days. The destination map which you return to after the completion of each level is simply drawn, but elsewhere the graphics blend in well with the design of the game.

The time, for example, is clearly displayed at the top of the screen, while the bottom section illustrates whether you have opted for a one or two player game, how many of your six lives you have left and your score. By having Easy, Normal and Difficult modes you can play at whatever speed suits you best, although you'll need reactions faster than the speed of light to progress by the aptly named Difficult route.

Your weapon can be cashed in and upgraded depending on which icon you pick up. There are masses of them including guns, dynamite, fruit and vegetables. So many in fact, that you are best not to collect too many different ones as changing fire methods in the middle of a tight situation often causes a loss of life. And you have to start the current screen again from the start.

The laser attachment is good for zapping a multitude of large spheres provided you remember to keep to either side of the balloons and don't fire from too close a range if you don't want to get wasted. The icons not only enhance your arms capacity but give you other plus advantages like an hour glass which gives you extra time, and stop watches which freeze animation giving you the change to give the bouncing blobs all you have.

Balloons aren't the only hazard though. A wide variety of birds and crustaceans like owls and crabs flap and scuttle around the screen but are easy to deal with whatever their nature.

The only problem with this game is that although it isn't very taxing skill wise, just calling for a little strategy and fast reactions, it is addictive in the same manner as Bubble Bobble or Rainbow Islands.


Pang logo

OCEAN £24.99 * Joystick

Apparently, 'pang' is a transitive verb of Scottish descent meaning to stuff or cram. It's also defined as a short period of pain. Well, Ocean's latest conversion of a Taito coin-op incorporates both of these elements!

The game plots the adventures of two harpoon-wielding heroes who must travel, via 18 different locations, from Japan to the island of Paques shooting balloons en route. Sound strange to you? Well it is!

A number of rounds is played at each of the locations at various times in the day. The game itself involves balloons which bounce round screens scattered with platforms and ladders. Our heroes shoot their harpoons skywards, attempting to burst the balloons. Once a balloon is hit they split into two smaller ones, which in turn split into two even smaller balloons which can then finally be destroyed completely.

The smaller the balloons get, the lower they bounce, which starts to cram the screen after a while (hence the Scottish verb connection) and makes the going dangerous - if a balloon touches a player he loses a life (and this is where the pain comes in).

Additional weapons gradually become available to make the going a little easier, such as double harpoons and the stunning mega-fast Vulcan Gun. However, colliding with any of the various creatures that wander on to the screen disables your new weapons for a short while.

All the balloons that appear at the start must be destroyed within the time limit or it's back to the beginning of the round.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Ocean have come up trumps again with the accuracy of this conversion. Both the sprites and backgrounds have been superbly designed, using full colour to capture the bright and cheerful appearance of the original coin-op. Even when the screen is crowded with balloons and creatures, the action is still swift and smooth. The sound is in the jangly, cutesy style you'd expect in a game of this type, boppy music with some nice-popping effects. Very jolly!

LASTING INTEREST

Pang's gameplay is very easy to get into, but despite the simple action the game is incredibly difficult to put down. You'd think that popping balloons would become tedious after a while, but it doesn't. It's one of those 'Oh I'll just have a quick game' jobs that turn into three hour joystick-wibbling sessions.

JUDGEMENT

Simple and enjoyable games like Pang don't come along too often. Most of the time the emphasis seems to be getting the biggest, hardest, meanest warriors to leap and career around the screen spraying leaden death around. So it's nice to see an amusing little jaunt like this pop up every now and then.

The cutesy sound and colourful graphics make it entertaining, but the sheer addictiveness will keep you coming back for 'just a quick couple of hours of gaming'. Altogether now... "I'm forever po-o-o-opping bubbles! Deadly bubbles overhead".


Pang: Clock Pang: Hourglass Pang: Anchor Harpoon Pang: Double Harpoon Pang: Shield Pang: Vulcan Gun Pang: Dynamite
Clock
Freezes all nasties for a while.
Hourglass
Allows extra time.
Anchor Harpoon
Attaches itself to the ceiling for a short time.
Double Harpoon
Fires two streams at once.
Shield
Protects against one hit from bubbles but not from creatures.
Vulcan Gun
Can't destroy platforms, but flings out loads of bullets.
Dynamite
Pops all the balloons to their smallest size - very hairy!

Pang logo

Oceans Umsetzungen werden wirklich von mal zu mal besser: Zumindest optisch ist dieses Game von der Arcade-maschine nur noch mit einer Lupe zu unterscheiden!

Schon richtig, in der Spielhalle hat der Automat gegenüber der Konkurrenz einen etwas kümmerlichen Eindruck gemacht. Aber vermutlich ist es ja genau der ergreifenden Schlichtheit des Spielprinzips zu verdanken, daß Pang auf den Amiga praktisch 1:1 umgesetzt werden konnte. Ein bis zwei Spieler dürfen (je) ein zuckersüß gezeichnetes Sprite über Screens mit Plattformen, Leitern und wechselnden Hintergrundgrafiken dirigieren. Sinn der Übung ist es, unter Zeitdruck alle umherhüpfenden Ballons zu zerballern; jede Berührung mit den Dingern kostet nämlich ein Leben. Die Schwierigkeit dabei ist, daß die Ballons sich nach jedem Treffer in mehrere kleine Bällchen teilen, erst wenn alle weggeputzt sind, geht's in den nächsten Level. Unterstützung erhält man in Form von diversen Extras wie Zusatzzeit, Raketen, Doppelschüssen, Dynamit oder Ähnlichem.

Die Grafik ist gut, sie gleicht dem Automaten wie ein Ei dem Anderen; auch Musik und Effekte gehen voll in Ordnung. Hinzu kommt eine ausgezeichnete Steuerung, sowie etliche motivationsfördernde Features. So haben trainierte Spieler die Möglichkeit, in einem höheren Level einzusteigen, und auch das Bonuspunktesystem und der Zwei-Spieler Modus machen Freude.

Also ein Hit wie er im Buche steht? Leider nein: Im Unterschied zum Automaten stürzt das Game nämlich oft und gerne ab, was einem den Spaß auf Dauer schon verleiden kann. Schade, Schade, Schade! (mm)


Pang logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Pang is the name of a little-known Milliar Coin-op originating from, as you might guess, Japan. The game involves travelling around the world, destroying large bouncing balls by repeatedly shooting them and splitting them into smaller spheres. Sounds rather like a certain product reviewed last issue by the name of Oops Up doesn't it?

You, and a friend, have to travel through 50 screens, set in front of famous landmarks from 25 major cities, such as the Taj Mahal and Ayres Rock in Australia. Quite what your motivation is, I'm not sure, but for some reason you have to systematically wreck every city you come to by smashing up the aforementioned balls.

As you break up the spheres, weapons fall from the top of the screen, ranging from cannons for fast blasting, a grappling hook that leaves a temporary barrier across the screen, killing anything that collides with it and a dynamite bomb, that instantaneously breaks all balls on screen down to their smallest components.

The coin-op is generally regarded as one of the most playable and addictive games around, and one that ranks with the classics. You'll be happy to know that Ocean's conversion is perfect in every detail, right down to the attract mode.

The graphics are pure Japanese arcade. Very bright, very colourful and very, very cute. The backdrops are well detailed, but as the sprites are generally simple, and because they work from a different palette, there's no visual confusion.

<>Pang plays brilliantly. The controls are fluid and responsive and the game is set just hard enough not to be easy, without being frustrating. Ocean have managed to capture the feel of the arcade game perfectly, and that's what makes Pang a winner. Addictive and entertaining, I can see Pang appearing on monitors for some time to come.


Pang logo

Domark/Tengen, Amiga £19.99

Pang is another of those surreal Japanese arcade games, this one involving bouncing balloons. One or two players work through single-screen levels, each containing a number of platforms: some destructible, other connected by ladders. To complete a level, one or more balloons must be destroyed using a vertically-firing energy beam. A balloon divides into two smaller ones when it's hit. The largest balloon divides three times before it's broken down into the destructible smallest balloons.

Marauding creatures can take away the ability to fire a short time but some balloon explosions release collectible items: bonus points, extra time, a stopwatch which freezes everything, dynamite which divides all balloons into their smallest form, a grappling hook and a rapid-firing pistol.


Phil King Like Wozza, I initially found Pang primitive. However, after a few two-player games I became totally hooked by the ridiculously simple concept. At first it's very confusing with balloons bouncing all over the place, but you soon discover ways to limit the number of small balloons and use the collectibles to best effect - it's often unwise (suicidal) to use the dynamite! The presentation is typically Japanese with cutesy animal sprites and jingly tunes, hardly making best use of the Amiga but a suitable enough accompaniment to the fun action.
Warren Lapworth Why are Ocean bothering to license obscure little coin-ops? Last issue, it was tile-splitting 'action' with a potato (Plotting) and now it's crusty old Asteroids with platforms, Ghostbusters-style beam weapons and 'sweet' Japanese sprites. Balloons can be surprisingly difficult to dodge, particularly the low-bouncing smallest ones, and when a number of them have been divided and sub-divided the screen becomes crowded and gameplay hectic. Tactics can be developed in the way beams and pick-ups are used and balloons tackled, but I found it all too frustrating to play for long.