The hero of this arcade conversion is a little chap resplendent in khaki shirt, shorts and a pith helmet, who armed with a futuristic harpoon gun races around the world popping balloons. There are 17 locations in all, exotic places such as Paris, New York, Moscow and London. Your task is quite simple, burst all the balloons that bounce around the screen in the allocated time limit.
But things ain't as easy as they sound. Shoot a big balloon and it splits into two, shoot one of those and it splits into two and so on! Before you know it, the screen's covered with loads of tiny balloons! Often, when a balloon is split, bonus icons appear, these include stopwatches (these freeze the balloons in their tracks), hour glasses (extra time), really big guns and dynamite. Also watch out for assorted wildlife on your travels, these will stun you for a short time and prevent you from firing your weapon, so avoid them.
Once the balloons have been destroyed you move onto the next (even tougher) level and continue your search for a really big pin. I've played the arcade version of Pang on several occasions, and the Speccy version is pretty close to its arcade parent. The wildly bouncing balloons take a while to get used to, but once you learn to dodge with the skill and grace of a ballet dancer your lifespan increases.
Graphically Pang is good with a detailed main sprite who is animated well and moves fast enough to dodge the balloons. Gameplay is very addictive and the challenge is tremendous. I bet you'll be playing it all the time when you first get it!
MARK ... 81%
'Pang is a strange but highly addictive game. I found it best to play as a two player team, that way you can hide behind the other player as a bubble shoots towards your head! The detailed backgrounds and the smooth way the bubbles move across the screen make the game a graphical delight and sound's not too bad either. Pang is great fun, just like overdoing it with the fairy liquid!'
NICK ... 82%
'Pang'. It's an odd word, isn't it? It sounds like the sort of thing you see inside speech bubbles in French comics. A bit like 'Paf!' and 'Aie!' - that kind of thing. Although its normally associated with hunger or maybe guilt. I looked this 'vaguely onomatopoeic' word up in my dictionary and it actually means "a sudden. sharp, brief pain". Quite apt, really, although playing Pang tends to induce more of a constant, dull pain somewhere in the depths of your stomach. It's maddeningly addictive, you see, and utterly unturnoffable.
So what's it all about, then? I'll try to explain. When the game starts there's a little bloke at the bottom of the screen - you. And, apart from that and a spooky background picture, the screen's completely empty. Oh, except for a giant bubble that is, just begging to be popped. Do so and it'll split into two smaller bubbles which float off in different directions. Burst those and they divide again. It's a bit like Asteroids, or whatever that arcade game was called, only different. Once the bubbles are small enough they disappear, and when they're all gone you've completed the screen. Good, eh? The only thing is that the bubbles are a bit on the dangerous side, so you'll die if you get touched by one. And as they move pretty fast this isn't entirely unlikely to happen.
But, in the interests of playing fair, you haven't actually got a gun to shoot with. Not at first anyway. Instead, when you press Fire a sort of rope thingy (for want of a better word) unwinds up the screen, bursting any bubbles that touch it. When it bursts a bubble, or hits any other obstruction, it vanishes and you get another shot. What's handy about this is that you can unwind it in the general path of a bubble and wait for it to float to its death, rather than having to worry about standing underneath and aiming carefully.
Further complication is caused on later levels by the appearance of platforms and ladders which, while being pretty useful for climbing up and down, tend to make the bubbles bounce around rather unpredictably. Luckily they can often be blown away to clear the air a bit.
And isn't there something we're forgetting here? Add-on weapons? Eh? There are loads of them, of course, ranging from lasers, through immunity, 'suspend-time' and double-fire to a weird pointy thing that looked quite impressive (but I died before I could pick it up). And there are bonuses too, in the form of bananas. All this stuff drops out of bubbles when you burst them, vaporising if you don't grab them quickly. Extra enjoyment is available via a two-player option which lets you and a friend take on the enemy simultaneously. Doing this usually means you can get through loads more levels, especially if you don't bring player two into the proceedings until later in the game.
Talking of levels, these are one thing Pang isn't short of. It's split up into 17 'countries', each of which has three or so screens with suitably scenic backgrounds. And, surprise surprise, they multiload in, but as I, erm, didn't quite get as far as the second load this didn't prove to be too much of a problem. Although the first few screens are merely tests of timing, later levels have sort of puzzle-type things to sort out (should you shoot out that block and release that bubble? Or would it be better to hang on for a bit and... ooops, run out of time - that sort of thing). And there might even be some more exciting baddies even later on in the game. Who knows?
As I've already mentioned, it's really very addictive indeed, combining all the best elements of 'cute' games. puzzle games and shoot-'em-ups. In fact, it's one of those games where tearing oneself away for long enough to do a review proves pretty impossible.
So what's the catch? Well, there isn't one, I'm happy to say. It's true that the collision detection isn't on your side, and games are often terminated to the cry of "It was nowhere near me! What a bast! I'm never playing this again, and I mean it this time!" but you soon come to accept its little quirks, Oh, and the music (mainly a remix of Puff The Magic Dragon, by the sound of it) is hardly compulsive listening. And it doesn't look earth-shatteringly good. But who cares. eh? At least you've got the tastily-drawn backgrounds to look at.
What we've got then is an absolute apricot of a game. The sort of thing that's so addictive if it stood on a street corner with a cigarette in its mouth it would be arrested for loitering with intent. It's also ripe for tipping, so I'll look forward to receiving lots of level-by-level diagramatic guides for Tipshop.
If you haven't already made up your mind. here's some help - buy it. Now.
Pang. What is it? Where is it? Well, it's here. It's what the 128K Spectrum has been waiting for. A game with sexier graphics doesn't exist and is simply the best arcade conversion to the Spectrum ever. Have you played Pang in the arcades on the Mitchell coin op? if you haven't, you don't need to now. Just buy Ocean's licensed version.
Bold words indeed, but what of the gameplay? The beat formulae for great games are a simple gameplay, good graphics and total addictiveness. Pang achieves all of these criteria, and using 128K, also has 17 different tunes that play throughout the 50 levels of the game.
So what do you have to do? Well, your task is simple in explanation but progressively difficult in practice. You, and a friend if you play the two player option, must just burst bubbles using your rope. Sounds too simple? Believe me it's not. The successful bubble bursting bonanza involves exact timing, tactical use of pick-ups and dodging the bubbles.
Each time a bubble is hit it splits into two smaller ones. Hit it again and the same happens until you get to the smallest size of bubble. This means that if have the maximum of three large balls to start with then it's possible to have 24 tiny balls on screen at once.
It doesn't sound complicated enough does it? But believe me, it all adds up to one of the best games ever on the Spectrum.
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
Spectrum 128K £9.99
Loads of bubbles to be blasted, with the Speccy conversion of the brill Mitchell coin-op, but does it measure up to the expectations laid down with the outstanding Amiga version? Well, the, answer is a resounding yes, and in flying style, too! For what a 128k Spectrum can do, this has got to rank as the best Speccy conversion in many a moon, with some absolutely cracking graphics - okay, so there's not much colour, but everything is clear as crystal. The sound is just as good, with some lovely bouncy tunes and FX. Quite frankly, if you've got a Speccy 128, and you don't race down to Johnny Floppy's Software Emporium, and demand this now, you're as mad as a March hare (even if it is only January).
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB