13AM Games is bringing Dadako's addictive action game to Nintendo owners everywhere!
You know which action game I love? Pang. It is one of those classic examples of simple game design reaching great heights. The player would shoot at balloons with his wire gun after which they would turn into two smaller balloons, and keep shooting until they completely disappeared. After that, the next stage would bring a harder challenge. It is a game I would constantly play on my Super Nintendo (in some areas known as Buster Bros) and Game Boy every so often. When 13AM Games announced that they would publishing a new take on Pang, I was sceptical. Then I started playing it and I realized how they made that classic game just a little bit more awesome.
Sure, it is easy to look at Pirate Pop Plus and disregard it completely. Yes, it borrows elements from Pang, but it does so much more with the gameplay. The big thing here is gravity. The first few seconds start normal, but the catch comes in right away. The main character Pete Jr gets pulled to the different sides of the playing field. By being forced to the top or sides of the screen, it forces the player to adjust on the fly. Not making the adjustment results in lost lives and shattered combos, which really hurts your score.
Another big change is that unlike Pang, Pirate Pop Plus is endless. Every game goes by quickly with the difficulty increasing every time the screen is cleared. I was constantly on edge, because a fatal mistake can be made in an instant. This can be dealt with in the Normal Mode where you do have a few hearts at your disposal. There’s also a Hyper Mode which brings back the feeling of Pang even more by just giving limited health. The rewards from Hyper Mode mode are better though, so it’s a matter of risk vs reward.
Next to that, there are a lot more things up than a typical game of Pang. There is fruit that increases score, special letters, treasure chests filled with coins and awesome weaponry to crank up the power. The one I saw was a gun that shot two lasers every time. It gave more room to manoeuvre and helped me nail some tricky shots. The game is trying to replicate a old school Game Boy in appearance, which means the playing field is smaller than would be expected. It can be hard to avoid the balloons in the confined space, but it is so satisfying when it all comes together in that single run. There’s also an achievement system that offers rewards for pulling off insane moves.
Although it’s not immediately obvious, there is a purpose to the coin drops. Since the game is designed as a tribute to classic handheld games, there are unlockable modifications to the system. These involve changing up the frame, backlight, buttons and so much more. There is also music and characters to unlock, which makes a few extra runs never a bad thing. Oh, and did I mention that the fake handheld in a handheld can be decoratedwith stickers? I love that way too much. For those less inclined to care, a single button press will cause the game to zoom in and remove the system view.
For those curious about how it plays on your current handled, it plays wonderfully. The D-pad controls movement, the face buttons fire, and the controls are crisp. The presentation certainly isn't simple though. While it looks retro, it has an incredibly rich and detailed look to it,with high quality pixel art. The music is varied, with a wide variety of tracks from three different composers and it compliments the experience splendidly. I’ll need a bit more time to name the standouts, though.
Pirate Pop Plus might not set your world on fire, but I love it. It is Pang with an incredibly fun twist that deserves to be experienced. Luckily, 13AM Games is doing everything in their power to make that happen. Not only will the game be around US$5, but it is also a crossbuy title for both your Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS. If you are in need of that perfect game on the go, I think I just found a candidate for you.