Pang is an arcade classic in every sense of the term. It hasn’t particularly aged all that well, admittedly, but we’d argue that’s an important part of achieving a “classic” status.
Really, classics are determined by those who experienced the thing in question, whether it’s a film, song, game or whatever, when it was new, and have seen the influence it’s had over the years. Newcomers probably won’t appreciate it all that much, because they’ve seen the towering epics that have been built on the solid, yet much simpler, foundations.
But Pang is a pioneer of the fast, ultra-simple twitch games that made the mobile such a great gaming platform. It did it as a full-sized arcade cabinet, but it did it nonetheless. So it’s actually quite fitting that the bubble-popping Capcom classic should get its latest revamp on the pocket platform, and clearly the developer holds the original in as high regard as we do.
This is still very much the original Pang. It’s graphics have been cleaned up and tweaked for the micro-screen, and there are some new features which we’ll come to in a minute, but it’s important to let the retro gamers out there know that this is immediately and satisfyingly recognisable as the 1989 game you remember so well.
The objective is to eliminate the bubbles bouncing around the screen using, primarily, a harpoon. Your character runs around the bottom of the screen, up ladders and across platforms until you’ve positioned him dangerously in the path of a falling (or rising) bubble. Hitting the fire button sends his single harpoon straight up toward the top of the screen, with a rope attached to the gorund.
Should a bubble hit the harpoon or its rope, it splits into two smaller, lower-bouncing bubbles. This Fantasia-esque action repeats itself until the tiniest bubbles eventually burst and disappear. Clear the screen without getting hit, and it’s on to the next level.
Along the way extra items can be picked up to help in your balloon eliminating task. These include rapid-fire guns to blast the bubbles with, dual harpoons, a temporary time-stop that freezes the bubbles in position, a single-hit force field and so forth.
It’s here that the remixing comes into play. The essential gameplay of Pang remains unaltered, but a few more features have been added to the bubble popping to freshen up the levels. Some bubbles now burst any nearby balls when you spear them, raining down a difficult-to-avoid shower of smaller balloons on your wee chap. Some become indestructible for a short while, which can be incredibly challenging when it’s the smaller, lower-bouncing bubbles.
The changes are very subtle, but that’s certainly no criticism. These are the kind of tweaks you could imagine the original designer wanting to add a few months after Pang had been stood on the sticky arcade floor, and while it might be 20-years hence, the improvements to an already great game are very welcome.
It has to be said that Pang Remixed is going to appeal to the arcade creepers of yore a lot more than it does to the GTA generation. This is a typical classic from the silver age of the arcades, and if you weren’t there with a pocket full of 10p pieces, the missing nostalgic element will likely reduce your enjoyment of this otherwise addictive one-thumb game.
Retro gamers rejoice.