Old-school gaming is known to either be too difficult or too easy. It seemed that the developers could never find a happy medium, and this frustrated many gamers. As such, fans of hardcore experiences bemoaned the simple games, and those who wanted a casual experience often got caught out. Consequently, modern developers have to try to find the middle ground. Sadly, though, this is often not the case, and the same problems occur. Panda Punch is one such game that disappointingly falls into this trap.
Developed by Ninja Rabbit Studios and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a retro platform title. What’s more, it has some minor combat moments and a few simple puzzles to complete. Accordingly, my aforementioned comments about simplicity have sadly come to fruition. Therefore, after a couple of levels, Panda Punch, unfortunately, plateaus badly.
Panda Punch tells a pointless tale.
You control a red panda who unfortunately becomes injured. An alien invasion causes mayhem, and the hero loses his paw. However, luckily, his dad has some spare parts lying around and he somehow builds him a mechanical paw. This new tool is used to annihilate enemy robots, punch switches, and move boxes. Later in the game, the hero learns new abilities that help him overcome chasms and other obstacles. Yet, this isn’t as exciting as it sounds, as much of the gameplay loop is repetitive.
Though Panda Punch sticks to many of the much-loved tropes of old-school gaming, its lack of depth and bare stages leaves you wanting. Furthermore, the underwhelming enemies and lacklustre abilities are tedious. On top of this, the simple puzzles and generous checkpoints ensure there is little challenge and even less risk. Subsequently, you go through the motions as you complete each obnoxiously mundane stage.
Collectables and hidden areas.
The developers have tried their hardest to mix things up. Honestly, they succeeded in some cases but missed the mark in many more. Where this title excels is when you try to find the special coins. These powerful tokens are hidden in plain sight and require a mixture of abilities to find them. As such, you can’t locate them all until you’ve progressed through the game. What’s more, these collectables are used alongside the cards to upgrade your gear. Therefore, finding each one is essential as well as being a fun challenge to overcome.
Disappointingly, the game is pretty flat and lacklustre other than this mechanic. Even though there is a small smattering of bosses and a tiny roster of monsters to defeat, none of them poses a challenge. Therefore, you sigh when you encounter them as you drudge up the rinse-and-repeat combat action.
Panda Punch is wonderfully pixelated.
The gameplay made me roll my eyes with frustration. However, visually I adored Panda Punch. The basic pixelated graphics and vivid colours create that wonderful retro finish. Moreover, there was a nice variation in stage design between each of the worlds. Annoyingly, though, it took forever to progress to the following world, and this made for a dull experience.
Ninja Rabbit Studios needed to introduce each new world much sooner. Had this happened, it would have alleviated many of the issues, while improving the finished product to no end.
The repetitive nature of this title is captured in its audio. The same song plays over and over and that isn’t acceptable. This is then made worse by the basic sound effects. Disappointingly, the music and sound lack energy, and this reduces its appeal further still.
A basic game needs easy controls. Luckily, Panda Punch delivers on this score. Subsequently, you can pick this up in no time, and you’ll understand the fundamentals immediately. However, as new abilities are introduced, the control setup becomes more complex. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t test you at any point.
Though I found the gameplay to be tedious, there is some replay value and longevity. Thanks to each hidden area, and the special coins you must locate, you’ll need a good eye for detail. Other than this, it is a good game for completionists, as the achievement list is small and straightforward.
Panda Punch is underwhelming.
Panda Punch didn’t fill me with much confidence, and unfortunately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Thereupon, much of the action is underwhelming, repetitive, and disappointing. Yes, the collectables and the additional abilities spiced things up, but it was too little, too late. Consequently, I don’t recommend this game. However, more information can be found here! Can you repel the alien invasion and get revenge for your damaged hand? Jump, punch, and defeat every alien you encounter.