Pandemonium! – The PS3 Attitude Review
Recently released on the PSN as a PSone Classic in North America, is Pandemonium! worth revisiting?
The story begins with a cutscene that introduces the two main characters of the game, Nikki and Fargus. Nikki, an acrobatic wannabe wizard, has a book of spells and begins to cast some cool looking magic towards the sky. Fargus and his talking wand Sid end pressuring Nikki to do a spell that is beyond her level. As a result, the unfortunate happens. In order to rectify the situation, the two characters follow a map that will guide them to a place where they can wish for everything to be normal again.
The controls in Pandemonium! are very simple. The Dpad is used to move the characters, with the X button being used to jump. The circle button does a special move, and square is used to cast spells. The controls work extremely well, and are pretty precise. There was never a moment where the controls interfered with the gameplay to cause any accidental deaths or frustrations.
The game has 18 levels to play through, and features three boss battles and two bonus stages. Each level is only playable as one of the characters, so before you start a stage, you have to choose between Nikki or Fargus. The characters actually have a unique ability that differentiates the two. Nikki has the godly double jump ability, while Fargus can do a clumsy special cartwheel attack to defeat enemies.
In terms of character usage, Nikki is clearly the one you will want to be playing as. The double jump is just far too useful to miss out on, and the cartwheel attack is nothing that can’t be replaced by a properly aimed jump. Both characters can use magic spells that are found throughout the levels. There is a fire spell, a shrinking spell, and an ice spell. The coolest one has to be the ice spell (ha!), since you can freeze an enemy and then run into their body to see it shatter. These powerups make the game a lot more enjoyable, but once you are hit, you lose the ability to use them. It’s a bit unfortunate that the spells are sometimes rarely available while playing through levels, and it feels like an unnecessary punishment.
The gameplay in Pandemonium! is fun and it isn’t too difficult. Enemies are cleverly placed so that you can reach certain items or platforms after you bounce on them. Some enemies are even set up in a way where it purposefully leads you to another enemy so that you take damage. Bouncing off enemies is incredibly crucial to the gameplay, and you will be doing it quite frequently, even if you’re using Nikki’s double jump.
As a 2.5D platformer, this game only allows you to run from left to right, but everything is actually in 3D. While playing through the levels, the camera will shift and turn and it’s certainly a bit exciting at times, although it can create confusion as well. The environments are colorful and the level design is interesting enough to keep your attention.
Some of the music in Pandemonium! is catchy, but there is nothing too memorable in the sound department. In fact, the sound effects in the game start to become very annoying after hearing a “boing” after every single jump. Considering the amount of jumps done in the game, you may want to turn down the sound effects for your own sanity.
The boss battles can be frustrating at times as well. All the battles take place in a circular path and once you figure out the pattern, the fight is practically done. It’s very underwhelming since the way to defeat the bosses are overly simplistic and unimaginative. Luckily there are only three boss fights throughout the game, and they are easily forgettable.
The cool thing about PSone Classics are the fact that they can be played on the PS3 and on the PSP. For this game, the PSP seems like the best way to play it. The levels in Pandemonium! only take a few minutes to beat, and the controls are simple and work well with the PSP. Visually, the game is also a lot easier to swallow on the PSP screen in comparison to an HDTV. A few adjustments to the screen size, and the game became very enjoyable on the smaller screen.
While attempting to play through the whole game, I actually became quite tired of it after a few levels and had to stop. Pandemonium! is a lot more enjoyable when playing it in chunks. This is the primary reason why playing it on the PSP seems like such an obvious choice. Once you grow bored of the game just put it on standby mode and continue on at another time. I found myself coming back to the game even after a 30 minute break, so I definitely wanted to finish it. For the PSPgo owners out there, using the Pause Game feature is a god send since Pandemonium! uses an archaic password system for your progress.
So what’s the verdict on Pandemonium? If you like platformers, then you probably will enjoy this game. The gameplay is solid enough for some fun to be had, so it’s definitely worth giving the game a shot. For only $5.99, you really aren’t losing too much, although that money could be spent on a much longer and more enjoyable PSone Classic.