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.