#172 Pang

Posted: 22nd April 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

48th game played so far

Genre: Shoot ’em Up
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1989
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Upon the game’s release Pang (try not to confuse this with Pong) was critically lauded and received numerous ports across all the major consoles of the day. It was lauded for its addictive nature, bright presentation and became one of the indispensible titles for games such as the Amiga, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.

Since then it has received numerous sequels including one last year for the Nintendo DS. It really goes to show that once you invent a classic you can milk it for all it’s worth.

Our Thoughts

Now, this game is known under two names, so I have to use both to make sure Google picks up on it: Today’s game is Pang, also known as Buster Bros., depending on where you’re looking or searching. It’s the latest in a long line of Capcom games that we will be covering.  Yet neither of the characters have appeared in the Capcom crossover fighting games. I think they missed a trick there with the player being able to impale The Incredible Hulk with a grappling hook or having giant balloons gobble up other characters as random animals fall from the sky. The sharpened hermit crab was a bit weird.

Anyway, more to the point, this is a fun arcade game where you have to pop balloons. The way you are able to do this depends on the power-up you recently picked up.  The basic weapon is of little use in a confined space but it can be strengthened like a piece of cheesewire. Also you can blow them up with some rather brown looking dynamite. This is a double-edged sword as it does not get rid of them completely, instead all is left are the smallest possible balloons which may completely overwhelm you as a player. The best powerup is easily when you stop time. It makes things a lot easier. Unless you’re stuck between balls and can’t get to them. It’s also useful to use the shield, which means you can be hit once, rather than being killed by touching a balloon.

The graphics are good too, very colourful and cartoony, which suits the mood of the game. The location-specific backgrounds are nice too, looking beautiful. There are 17 different locations which feature monuments specific to the area. This includes the likes of Mt Fuji, The Arc de Triomphe and Uluru. Within each location are a number of stages which vary in difficulty. In the beginning the game plays rather simply with the stage being pretty much a blank with just you, your grappling guns and the malevolant balloons.  After a while platforms and ladders are added in so the game begins to play like the lovechild of Donkey Kong and The Prisoner. Making it more of an action game, and both giving you hideouts and places to get stuck if you don’t watch out.

You can see how much arcade games have grown up compared to that first game, Pong. It looks better, has bonuses added, adding interesting gameplay elements and turning this in a game that’s more than just ‘remove the balloons’.

Final Thoughts

Popping balloons is simple, but fun, and the basic gameplay elements have returned in many later (mostly internet) games. And the idea is fun – pop the balloons that fly around and try to avoid them having them kill you. It’s simple, it’s fun… and it gets deviously evil when you get to the higher levels. Suited for an arcade game and something that’s still fun to play around with.

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