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Magical Michael Pang hooks our innate bubble bursting desire. Like the original though, restraint and nerve-holding are the only way to succeed. If it wasn't for an overly wacky hero this would be a perfect classic remake.
As a nostalgic thirty-something I was thrilled to see that one of my Amiga favourites was getting a DS remake in the shape of Magical Michael Pang. Though the core game play remains, the bizarre new protagonist almost ruined this arcade revival with his idiotic one-liners.
The premise to Pang is simple: burst all the balloons in a static level and don't let them hit you. It would be easy to dismiss this as being far too basic but it's a mechanic that works great for my family.
My son immediately took Pang to heart and I was pleased to see that the same globe-trotting theme of the original title had been maintained. The ancient monument backdrops to each level brought back memories for me and interest for my son.
None of my rose-tinted memories affected my son's enjoyment of the game - he loved the simple mechanics and responsiveness of the touch screen.
Game play has changed though. I remember the original having a harpoon that you would shoot in the air to burst balloons. Here the hero has magic too - not a huge change but it's an alteration that links to a bigger problem I have with Pang - the protagonist himself.
In the original you controlled a small boy, with big anime eyes who would get happier and happier as you progressed through the game. It was cute and fitted the nature of bursting balloons perfectly. Now we have a bizarrely dressed 'magician' who looks like he should be presenting 'Pimp My Ride' or featuring in Saints Row 3. Coupled with his penchant for terrible one-liners before each level I found my nostalgia being flushed down the loo by this needless fiddling.
None of my rose-tinted memories affected my son's enjoyment of the game - he loved the simple mechanics and responsiveness of the touch screen. The same compulsive play mechanics survive along with a difficulty curve that lets you know this isn't quite as simple as it first appears.
With the retention of the multiplayer co-op, Pang became a steadfast family experience for my son and I.
That's because Pang introduces more complex levels early on so that you have to use your discretion when popping too many balloons for fear of being overwhelmed. It taps into the same risk/reward mechanic that works so well for all the classic arcade games and it reminded me that despite its unnecessary changes, Pang is still a king of game play.
With the retention of the multiplayer co-op, Pang became a steadfast experience for my son and I. Though I despaired at the needless change of character - his enjoyment of a game I grew up with made this a magical experience that will keep us gaming together on the DS for months to come.
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