The Pang series makes its current generation console debut with Pang Adventures, a modern take on a coin-op, co-op classic! Similar to previous games in the series, aliens have invaded and unleashed a slew of attack balls on cities across the globe. It’s up to the Pang Brothers and their trusty gear to destroy the attack balls and alien bosses to bring peace to our planet. The game can be played solo, but the most fun is had with a local co-op partner. With three different game modes and up to 100 levels, there is lots of ball busting content, but does the classic gameplay still hold up?
Tour mode is the main campaign in the game, taking the brothers to exotic locations across the world to do battle with the alien attack balls. Each location has 15 levels of ball busting action that must be completed to move on. During a typical level, large balls will bounce around the screen; you can only shoot upwards and every time a ball is hit it splits into two smaller balls. The goal of each level is to avoid getting hit by the balls and shoot them until they disappear. Level scores are based on destroying the balls, picking up falling items, time remaining and an optional bonus if you don’t misfire. There is a target score for each level and ideally you want to beat that score every time. There are two sets of scores for each level, one for solo play and one for co-op. After a set of 15 levels you will fight a boss and change locations. The boss fights take place on top of a flying plane and involve you shooting an alien’s weak point while avoiding its projectiles. The fights are enjoyable and hit the right mark of not too easy or frustratingly hard. Some of the locations I visited in tour mode were Bora Bora, Death Valley, and Scotland.
As you progress to different areas the attack balls start to have different abilities. Electric balls will shoot a blast of electricity down below, smoke balls make it hard to see; some levels pair these two together, making for a fun challenge. In addition, there are exploding balls that count down when hit and cause a chain reaction, along with hot lava and sludge balls that make you move slowly. Thankfully the Pang brothers have updated weaponry that is either hiding inside destructible objects or in floating balls at the top of the screen. The Sting is your basic weapon that shoots like a harpoon gun (think Scorpion in Mortal Kombat), other weapons include the Sting x2 which allows you to shoot faster, the machine gun, lasers, flamethrowers and even shurikens. These weapons only last a limited time and then you are back using the Sting. There are also friendly crabs who help out by popping balloons and shield pickups that will protect you against one hit.
The other two modes are Score Attack and Panic Mode. Score Attack is more akin to the arcade experience where you only get 3 lives and no continues. In Panic Mode you play 99 continuous levels. While the inclusion of these extra modes is great, I found myself spending most of my time in tour mode. I prefer to play games like this without the stress of limited lives or the need to keep playing to reach a predetermined level count. The gameplay still holds up today thanks in part to tight controls. Your character is controlled with the left thumb stick and the A button shoots, that’s all there is to it. Items and weapons are picked up just by walking into them.
Graphically the game has a cartoon style that reminds me of the Pokemon cartoons. Characters and enemies looks good and the game runs smoothly even with lots of balls moving around. The cutscenes in between locations are enjoyable and set a lighthearted tone for the story. The music in the menus and levels is catchy as well. Overall the presentation of the game is of pretty high quality.
It would have been nice if the game included an online mode, but that’s the case with many co-op games and it’s just not always possible with ID@XBOX titles. While I did enjoy the game I didn’t find it very addicting and felt repetitive after a handful of levels. It would have been nice to have a few more crazy weapons like the shuriken, as using the Sting gets pretty old. I introduced the game to my five-year-old and it was easily accessible for him and I to save the world together. Despite there being weapons and “shooting”, I feel comfortable recommending Pang Adventures to families. There isn’t any overt violence and all the weapons are used fittingly.
Classic games are classic for a reason, usually because they can stand the test of time. Pang Adventures gives a classic game a modern facelift and the results are great. The game is packed with content and is sure to keep players engaged whether they play alone or with a friend. Various types of enemy balls and weapons do their best to mix up the action. I don’t feel like this is the type of game you would play from start to finish, but it’s a nice one to have in your collection when the mood strikes. A surefire recommendation for those craving couch co-op fun.
+ Lots of content playable alone or with a friend
+ Precise controls
+ Challenging gameplay that never seems unfair
– Gameplay gets repetitive in long sittings