Once in a while, you come across a game that has this feeling all over it from a summer sunday afternoon, when you're eight years old, just watched some cartoons on tv, then go and play a game without anything to worry 'bout in the world. Today is your lucky day, because Pandemonium is one of those games.
Pandemonium is a semi 3D platformer. The bright colors and awesome backgrounds make sure that the game is pure eyecandy. Although the characters look squary, they're well-done for their time. As you follow the path you have to take, the whole scenery turns along, background included. You'll see things to come in the far distance from some camera angles because of this, and you can see parts you'll visit in the future in that level in the background now and then. If the visual aspect of this game is a let-down, it's because you only like text adventures. Otherwise, you're bount to love the way this game looks.
The gameplay itself is easy enough. First you choose wether you play with a jester or a girl, then you run around stomping on enemies and collect coins. Get hundred coins and you gain a life. Next time, you'll have to collect a hundred more, so you'll need two hundred coins. Luckily, there're powerups that temporarily multiply the amount of coins you get by two, so it'll speed it up. Besides that as a powerup, you can also grab an orb that'll give you an aura of light. It enables you to shoot at your enemies, or just shoot, if there are no enemies around. Get hurt and you'll lose it though. A few minor points are the amount of powers. Two powers is just not enough from time to time. Also, but this is rare, the camera gets into such an angle that you can't see what's ahead of you or it gets so dark you don't see wether you're about to walk into a pit or onto some floor.
All levels of this game are nice and long. There's an average of three parts in it. When you die, you will return to the beginning of the part you're in. If it's game over, you can still use the password it gave you to return to the beginning of the level. Sadly enough, there's no way to restart from the beginning of a part of a level, so you will have to go through it again. Not that it's such a drag, as it's still fun to play, but it might get a bit on your nerves if there's a particulary tricky part, or, like in my case, your cursor gets stuck and you automatically kill yourself, no matter what you try. Those cases are unlikely to happen though, and besides, the game gives enough variety to keep enjoying it, no matter if you get stuck or not.
Pandemonium is a bad game. It's terrible. If you don't have any taste whatsoever and think vinegar is good soup. All the others will surely love this one, as the game deserves.
One of the best PC conversions of PlayStation games, Pandemonium! is a great platformer that tells a story about a jester and a sorceress who inadvertently summon a giant monster, and so must get rid of it. As either the jester or the sorceress, you'll jump around levels avoiding hazards, creatures, and traps, while collecting treasure, keys, and power-ups in standard side-scrolling fashion. Instead of the gritty shoot-'em-up style of Blackthorne or Flashback, Pandemonium! takes a less violent route where dangers such as hopping mushrooms and menacing snails are dealt a fatal blow simply by jumping on their heads. Additionally, both characters can use a variety of magical spells (though you can only carry one spell at a time) to dispatch their enemies.
Although the game is addictive and fun, it is probably too difficult for all but the most die-hard players. Both characters have only two hit points each, and nearly everything you touch is lethal. Touch a stalactite, lose a hit point, bump into a plant, lose a hit point, etc. And if you've struggled to obtain a spell, you'll lose that ability if you take any damage. Ordinarily, this could be seen as a way to challenge the player to do well and not get hurt, but when you take into account the size and complexity of the levels and the use of a silly post-level password system, things get ugly very quickly. What is worse, the game retains the save-point-only-once-in-a-blue-moon style of the PlayStation original, which means you will probably have to replay significant chunks of the game if your reflexes are anything short of a lightning bolt.
Overall, Pandemonium! is a great game, but one that amateur gamers need not apply. Die-hard arcade gamers will find the game quite challenging, and very well made. The game's cutscenes are very well done, especially the ending (I'd say why, but I wouldn't want to spoil the suprise). The music is also great, the sounds are well chosen, and play control is solid. Pandemonium! is also one of the first games that offer true 3D graphics, combined traditional 2D gameplay. A great old game that shouldn't have been forgotten.
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