...and Lyle the Panda is stuck in the pound!!
Panda-Monium: Alphabits is the latest sound novel from Goodwich Appliances, a former kitchenware manufacturer that just started making games this past spring. Does it fare as well as their grilled cheese sandwich maker? Well...
The storyline (which is what counts most in a sound novel) is very juvenile: you take the role of Lyle the Panda, who lives with his owner, a little boy named Jeffy Bone on Neat Street. Everything is fine and dandy, until one evening, you hear the incessant ringing of a telephone from the front yard. You venture out of your pandahouse. The next thing you know, you're in the back of a van and you're heading for the pound!! Why? That's what YOU have to figure out!
Although the story is aimed at younger audiences, there are a few jokes and examples of social satire that us adults will chuckle knowingly to ourselves at. My favourite of these is a scene involving club politics in the secret barroom in the back of the pound, which I won't spoil for you, but let me tell you, it's a real hoot. Anybody who can read will enjoy this game. Unfortunately, the majority of the public do not have this skill, so this gets points off.
I'm very pleased with what characte designers Alcazar Geddy did with this: No anthromorphic "furs", that you'd see in most of today's games, movies or political rallies; Geddy stuck with making each animal look like a real animal. The rabbits? They're no bigger than the size of your hand, and they look at you blankly, or in slight confusion, like a real rabbit would. The birds? You don't see the birds up-close-and-personal, because, like real birds, they fly away in a panic when you approach! Bravo, Geddy! Bravo!
The backgrounds can be a bit bland at times, but some scenes shine like no other. My favourite backgrounds are Neat Street, the secret barroom, the weight-lifting yard, and the spooky and atmospheric basement of the pound.
Goodwich Appliances must have pulled some major strings somewhere, because they got K(yrgyzstan)-Pop idol Naryn Baryn-chan to sing the opening theme, "Vinny Viddy Volvo". The song shines through the mud like headlights on a struck-down five-year-old girl. It even prompted me to buy a Naryn Baryn-chan album ("Sixty Fathers With No Way Home", if you're wondering, and it's superb).
The rest of the music, however, is standard Casio demo music. Not bad, but nothing mind blowing.
Most sound novels have the same aesthetics; look, investigate, talk, move, use item, etc. And for this, Panda-Monium does its job well. There's a minigame near the end: a cowboy style quickdraw shootout with---oh, I can't spoil it! The controls in this minigame are responsive, and accurate. The guns miss every time, and occasionally jam and explode in your hand (paw?). I'm LOVING it.
Unsurprisingly, Panda-Monium hasn't brought anything new to the table. Surprisingly, it's a fun little game from a kitchenware manufacturer! The heartwarming tale and slightly lewd humour kept me hooked to the end, and I'm sure it'll do the same to you.
So, to Panda-Monium: Alphabits, and to Goodwich Appliances, I raise my glass. A toast! A toast of...
A new game by the game master, (or game disaster), Appliance. Appliance's games over the years have almost always varied by Genre. This is his first Platformer to hit this site. Pandemonium Alpha is a solid platformer with some puzzels, somewhat annoying enemies that can jump from the floor to the ceiling, varying bosses, and a dissappointing story. The gameplay however is very well done but sometimes can be plain annoying.
Gameplay- The gameplay is solid, and the enemies give you a hard time to get by. Sure the blind ninjas that can jump from the floor to the ceiling are kinda easy, the metal turrents are put in the most annoying places EVER, (Even in the first level). There a 5 parts of a level you have to go through, the fith part is always a boss. The bosses are very well done in programming, but in art style they somewhat look bland. Alot of the bosses, however, dont really need that much detail in art. How you beat them is the same, look for the weak point and fire away. (One boss, The Metal Spider, you cant kill with bullets, you have to find a different approach.) Few last things, you have unlimited ammo, there is a grappling hook, (COOLNESS), and like in the Megaman games there are spikes that kill you by just touching them. =( HULK SMASH. All in all, the gameplay is pure and has just enough variety to get you through the game. 4.5 out of 5
Sound- The music is perfect. One can't say no to Level 5's music. In the game the cut scenes have music that propel the mood of the game onward. Appliance also put in music while you play the levels in the game. At first this sounds cool, but it gets VERY annoying after one or two minutes. The music is varried and can be very engaging and mood altering. (such as the fourth level where there is some light stealth action involved.) Together these pices of music are very well done but get annoying once you've heard them for awhile. 4.5 out of 5.
Graphics- The graphics in the gameplay certainly lack flair, but you would think the cut scenes would make up for it. They dont. But the graphics do add to the 'look' of the game so you really cant complain that much. 3 out of 5.
Story- It gives you some insight into the dark history of this small galaxy. There defiantly should be some more background into the diffrent 'worlds' that reside in this game. But sadly the only two plantes you know is the 'good' planet, and the 'bad' planet. (Lucindea and Drakor, however you spell them.)The story tells a tale of a young girl who saved her planet from impending doom and was cryogenicly frozen to keep her for the next time she was needed. Fenx, (her new partner), is somewhat of a perv and loves Rina. Rina, on the other hand, would kill Fenx faster than you can say, "Cheesy-pun-pinker-nickle", if she did not need him to pilot her to her different mission areas. The game has great character development but the lack on other things really leave more to be disired. 3 out of 5.
Funfactor- Some fun is to be had. Be it the perverted jokes of Fenx, or the feeling you get once you've taken down an entire space fleet and sniped out one of the generals of the opposing army. 3.5 out of 5.
Overall- A nice game for when you have some free time. Im looking forward to Pandemonium Invasion. =) 3.5 out of 5