Pang Mobile iPhone app doesn’t burst the bubble on retro gaming

Oct 26, 2009
Games

Cats and dogs. Fire and ice. Boys and balloons. The natural order of things is filled with a finite amount of diametrically opposed forces, so it was only a matter of time before a video game had to invent a completely new one. Of course, the conflict in Player X’s “Pang Mobile” iPhone app, which […]

Cats and dogs. Fire and ice. Boys and balloons. The natural order of things is filled with a finite amount of diametrically opposed forces, so it was only a matter of time before a video game had to invent a completely new one.

Of course, the conflict in Player X’s “Pang Mobile” iPhone app, which pits a young lad with a harpoon against a never-ending downpour of large shiny balloons, isn’t anything original — it dates back to 1989’s “Buster Bros.” for multiple platforms, including the Super Nintendo and TurboGrafx-16.

And while its port to the iPhone and iPod Touch is largely unchanged from its humble beginnings (aside from adding a move to unleash a burst of harpoons by shaking the device), the fast-paced “Pang” is still as fresh and addictive as it was two decades ago.

Unfortunately for the sticky controls, this is an old-school game of unforgiving and precise timing. Every time you shoot a large balloon or “spherical danger,” it splits off into two medium-sized ones, which then become two more tinier ones. If you get hit by any of them, you die.

The action plays out in two different modes: The world tour (where you burst balloons in front of changing forest- and mountain-filled set pieces) and infinite mode, where balloons rain down like confetti at Rip Taylor’s surprise party until you drop. These modes also date back to the original game, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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David Wolinsky

David Wolinsky is the Chicago city editor for The Onion's A.V. Club and is also the  undisputed 1994 Blockbuster store champion at collecting bananas in Donkey Kong Country.

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