Years ago, Capcom managed to sneak up on both arcade and home fans with a game called Buster Bros., challenging them to shoot an array of bubbles off a screen using a solo warrior (or two, if you played in co-op). Though some frustrations did emerge from some of the tougher stages in the game, Buster Bros. ended up being quite a delight, along with its under-appreciated sequel Super Buster Bros.
Fast forward a couple of decades, where DotEmu have chosen to bring back the franchise, but with a different name – Pang Adventures. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Buster Bros. did, but the gameplay is generally the same, as you try to clear stages as quickly as possible, getting a high score as you bust bubbles and enemies off of the screen.
I will give credit where credit is due. The team at DotEmu did throw in some variety to keep the game from getting a little “me too” like other sequels have been, with different bubble types (like ones that bounce in all directions or ones that generate electrical shocks if you don’t get out of the way) and little stage conditions that change things up (like walls that close in from the sides). That said, the gameplay remains generally the same, and that may wear on a few folks that aren’t crazy about shooting spears at bubbles all the time.
At least it’s still fun to some degree, as some of the later challenges and boss battles can certainly be trying – albeit it a little frustrating. Plus, the game’s local co-op has its heart in the right place, even though it doesn’t support online. Having a friend in tow really pays off here, even if it means having to occasionally fight for the shield or flamethrower power-up.
However, DotEmu kind of made a mistake with the game’s modes. There are various ones available where you can hop into challenges and such, but it’s all locked away until you complete the game’s Tour mode. Was this really necessary? The developer should’ve opened up the option right away, just to see what variety is available in its many stages. This way, we’re kind of being a little bit punished.
As for the game’s presentation, it’s not bad. The HD polish certainly pays off when it comes to character design, stage set-up and even the overworld map, as it looks like a Saturday morning cartoon in some respects. The music is enjoyable too, with bouncy little rhythms that play throughout each stage. However, the loading times can be quite strenuous, especially at the start. Let’s get into the game already!
Pang Adventures is a fitting tribute to the Buster Bros. games of old, with various challenges to overcome, entertaining gameplay and a solid presentation. However, certain choices with its design – locking away content, skipping online play and long loading times – make it less effective than most retro reboots these days. Fans will be right at home, but for everyone else, this bubble may feel like it’s already burst.