Sunday 16 June 2019

Panic! (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: Data East
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

Panic! is a point and click adventure game that was later released on the Sony PlayStation 2 (2002).

A computer virus is infecting devices across the planet and it's your job to find and attack the mother computer to return the world to normal. The action consists of static screen mini-games where you're given a number of buttons, with only certain ones allowing you to move onto the next puzzle. Things get off to a good start at the opening logo screen with a bizarre, yet humorous mispronunciation of the infamous: "SE-GA!" soundbite (performed as "GA-SE!"). Unfortunately, that's where most of the hilarity ends. For starters, there's nothing logical about any of the game's 'puzzles' and the need to blindly press buttons leads to apathy and severe boredom; the worst part is that there's literally no skill involved in succeeding and no gameplay deviation throughout the whole adventure to break things up. Additionally, while the failure cut-scenes should provide some enjoyment (especially as they're the main selling point here) they're usually too surreal, or have an over-reliance on toilet humour and repetitive vomiting jokes. There are a few nods to other video-games such as Pong and Tetris, but they only provide a passing interest. The loading times between failures isn't too bad, but the gameplay annoyances compound the delays and result in you preying for the correct option to be picked first time! Graphics-wise, the art style is bland with a distinct lack of sprite detail, and the characters are completely devoid of any charm or personality. The only real positive notes are that there's multiple ways to reach the end credits (adding some replayability), and you can also save your progress.

Panic! is akin to doing a long multiple-choice quiz without any of the questions, and its random nature doesn't exactly make for a satisfying gameplay experience. It's bereft of any compelling action and (to be honest) considering it's such a distinctly wacky Japanese game I'm surprised this one was even localised for the West!

Random trivia: The game is compatible with the Sega Mega Mouse controller.

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