Titles don’t get much more literal than Land-a Panda. It’s a game about guiding a tiny little panda to safety using an increasingly complex series of cannons. It falls very much into the Angry Birds mold of iOS puzzle games in terms of both structure and style, but the core gameplay is pretty unique and (more importantly) incredibly fun.
Every stage starts with you popping a balloon that launches your panda up into the air. From there, you’ll need to man a series of cannons to fire it across the stage towards the other panda waiting on another platform. If you can do that without allowing any harm to come to your squeaky little panda, the stage is complete.
The hero in action.
But in the grand tradition of iOS puzzlers, just beating the stage isn’t all there is to Land-a Panda. There’s also three coins to find in each level, and collecting them all while maintaining your bear’s safety is much more difficult than simply making it to the end. So while it may only take a few hours to get through the game’s 80 stages, figuring out how to collect each and every one of the coins can be deviously challenging (and gives the game quite a bit of replayability).
Part of this is due to the obstacles the game throws at you. Slowly but surely the complexity of Land-a Panda ramps up, but you barely notice it because most of the frequent additions are simple tweaks. First you’ll have cannons, then cannons that move automatically, then cannons that you can move manually, and then cannons that fire and move automatically. And before you know it you’ll be dealing with teleporting devices and floating ghosts.
Blasting through blocks!
Of course, the other thing that an iOS puzzle game needs is to be cute. And Land-a Panda is certainly that. The tiny panda protagonist looks and sounds more like a dog’s squeak toy than a real animal, and all of the stages across the game’s four worlds are bright, colorful, and charming. Surprisingly, for all of its cuteness, Land-a Panda will also break your heart each time you fail a stage. If you fail to reunite your panda with its buddy on the other side of the screen a tiny heart will split in half, making you feel unbelievably guilty for failing the level.
Land-a Panda really has everything you’ve come to expect from a mobile puzzle game. It’s fun, challenging, has plenty of replay value, and is just plain cute. It’s a game that screams quality, with intuitive controls and a gradual difficulty curve that makes it incredibly accessible. Just don’t take it too personal when you don’t manage to reunite the bears — It’s not all your fault!