Polar Panic – The PS3 Attitude Review
If you have read any review of Polar Panic by now, you’ve probably seen something about how it’s relate to the classic SEGA game Pengo. While the game does feature the same ice block pushing mechanic, it is also so much more than that.
You play as Polar, a polar bear living in the Arctic whose home is being threatened by the evil Mr. Big and his Globoco corporation. They plan to use their massive machines to drill for oil and other natural resources, forcing Polar and his family to either leave or die.
It’s up to Polar to stop Mr. Big and the hunters from destroying the Arctic by using any means necessary. Ice blocks, dynamite crates, and rolling barrels are just a few of the tools you’ll need to crush the evil Globoco.
Story Mode features 50 levels of intense ice pushing, culminating in machinery boss battles at the end of every other chapter. Various power-ups are scattered throughout to aid in your quest to save the Arctic. You’ll have a specified time limit to exterminate all the enemies before you can move on to the next level.
Enemies, known as Trappers, come in different varieties. Initially there are the Clobbers. They simply run around the map with a giant club, looking for a polar bear to hit. As you progress through the levels, you’ll encounter Gunthers, Pyros, Icemen, and Dynos. Things can become pretty cluttered with so many characters on screen but the levels are large enough so that you never feel trapped.
While it’s a good place to start and learn the basics, Story Mode is more of an annoyance than anything. The time constraints make the player feel rushed to destroy all the enemies. There are other agendas, such as rescuing fellow polar bears or collecting all the snowmen, but when the time is ticking away, you don’t think to do all that. Three lives can go rather quickly in Polar Panic, especially on the later levels.
Boss battles pits Polar against a giant machine, outfitted with a special upgrade for each of the five encounters. These battles end up becoming repetitive as you must perform the same action at least three times before you defeat it. The final boss, Mr. Big, is simply a combination of all previous bosses rolled into one.
At the end of each Stage, as well as Chapter, you’re given a letter grade based on how well you performed. Destroying enemy spawn points, collecting snowmen, or rescuing your fellow polars will grant you the most points although you have to be near-perfect if you want to receive the A ranking.
I found myself simply playing Story Mode just to finish it. The plot wasn’t particularly interesting and the level design is what you would expect from a simple PSN title. The overhead camera angle can be a little tricky at times with a level being too big, making everything appear too tiny. Thankfully, there are two other modes to spice things up.
Puzzle Mode includes 50 unique puzzles that you must solve in both the quickest and most efficient method possible. There are no enemies or traps. You simply must make your way to the exit. How you do that will require intense thinking along with trial and error.
Some puzzles will require hundred of moves before they are solved using switches, ice blocks, and even explosives. There are many ways to solve them so don’t give up. Remember, the quickest is not always the most efficient either so it may take a few tries to achieve the AA ranking.
Completing these puzzles unlocks bonus artwork from the development team. While it’s not particularly interesting, it is nice to have some sort of reward for all your hard work. The greatest satisfaction comes from just completing them though, especially puzzles 40 though 50.
Should you want to take a break from ripping your hair out as you try to solve one of the puzzles, then Survivor Mode is the way to go. This mode pits you wave after wave of enemy trappers in a variety of environments. With the completion of each wave, more ice blocks fall from the sky as well as emerging enemies from their little houses.
Online leaderboards (and trophies too) fuel the need to obtain the highest score possible. With no time limit and no gimmicks, this is the most fun mode out of the three.
Polar Panic is actually a decent PSN title. The Story Mode is perhaps too complicated to be actually fun but Puzzle and Survivor Mode more than make up for that. While you probably won’t find yourself playing the game for hours upon end, it’s good for mini-sessions every now and then.