Review: Panic Springs
Title: Panic Springs
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad (reviewed on iPad)
TL;DR: Fast-paced retro-style one-touch game.
Family Friendly?: Click here to skip the detail and see if this game is right for your family!
I was always a big fan of Helicopter – you know, the flash game where you use only your mouse button to control the height of a pixelated helicopter as it soars through narrowing caverns containing simplistic obstacles here and there. So when I saw how similar Panic Springs was to Helicopter, I was stoked.
In Panic Springs, you control Harry Helix, a yellow character that is basically just a smiley face with a propeller backpack and two springs for legs. Harry Helix flies through the air in this side-scroller, rising and falling with each bound. Using the only control in the game, you tap the screen to speed Harry up; to slow him down, simply let up on the game’s sole button.
The terrain is varying levels of inclines and declines. Since the game is intended to look retro, everything in the game is rather boxy and the inclines look more like steps than hills. While venturing through the square terrain, you encounter various baddies. I liked this aspect of the game. Sure, they frustrated me when I was propelling too quickly to avoid them, but it was a lot of fun when I learned how to control Harry well enough that I could bounce on the baddies and propel even further forward.
The music definitely helped the developer come closer to its goal of creating a retro game. The tune in the background as well as the sound effects that bleeped and blooped during the game both reminded me of arcade-style games.
They also clearly aimed for old school in all the visual aspects but in some ways the game looked more like a glitchy modern game than an intentional throwback. First, there were three black lines that persistently jutted out from the left margin no matter what. At first I thought there was something with my iPad. But when I watched a gameplay video from Gamesmold’s site, I realized that it was a glitch in the game. I guess they could have been going for the whole old school, “back in our day consoles sometimes didn’t work” thing, but I doubt it.
I wasn’t a fan of the default screen setting, either. The setting provided a scanline effect. I understand the effect they were going for with this, but on something like an iPhone or iPad, I think it’s better to stick with big blocky, pixely looks to add the fun retro element instead of recreate poor screen quality overall. By adding this scanline effect into the mix I think Gamesmold overdid it with the retro look. Fortunately, you can turn this effect off.
I don’t want to get too caught up on the negatives, so I’ll move on to a pretty fun bonus feature in this game: the bonus rocket. Once you touch it, you ride a rocket (which looks a bit more like a flaming arrow) for a short period of time and demolish anything in your path. It provides you with the same invincibility as the Rainbow Stars do in Mario. Also, the rocket is on auto-pilot, so you can sit back and relax while Harry Helix plows through all obstacles. This rocket is so fast that it warps poor Harry’s face. Don’t believe me? See below.
The game play is indefinite with checkpoints here and there. Aside from the slow loading between failed attempts (and between pausing and unpausing) the game offers very quick levels which makes it really easy for you to say “okay, just one more try” after each death, and have that one try turn into ten or fifteen more tries.
- Memorizable landscapes
- Bonuses–like the bonus arrow–are great additions to any game
- Loads very slowly
- The retro feel is a bit overdone
- Not quite as attention-holding as I expected
This game is very family friendly. The lack of any story precludes any adult content. The only enemies are bouncing pixelated skulls and a big monster that occasionally pops out from the left side of the screen. Fortunately, thanks the the incredibly simplistic look of the game, these bad guys are not scary-looking. Instead, they are a bit silly. I personally would not have any qualms about letting a kid play this game. That being said, I’m no parent and I know some parents might be a little nervous now that I mentioned skulls. So I’ll let those of you who are parents have a look at the game content here and see it’s nothing to worry about.