If you ever saw those Neo Geo machines with four games in one back about a decade ago in your local arcade or pizza parlor, you’re probably familiar with their contents. Usually a few slots were taken up by fighting games like King of Fighters or Samurai Showdown, a puzzle game like Bust-a-Move, and often the fourth was Buster Bros, or Pang as it was known in Japan. That last game always intrigued us as kids, but now that we’ve got the full version in mobile form on our iPhone, we’re a lot less interested.
In Pang, you play as a boy who is terrorized by floating balls that rain from the sky. You have to use a special spear gun to pop them into smaller and smaller pieces, and a variety of powerups and randomly appearing animal assistants will help you achieve this goal. However, if you make one wrong move and touch a bouncing ball, you lose a life and the balls reset to their original size and position.
Good thing I thought to bring my balloon-popping spear.
With over 50 levels in the world tour mode, you’ll travel all over the globe, visiting exotic locations that are distilled to just one screen with a landmark in the background. The layouts of blocks, which can hold powerups and deflect the bouncing balls, are the only gameplay difference between stages, and they’re slight indeed. We’re sure these are the original levels, though, so the game is at least staying true to the arcade version.
What’s new, though, is a shake-to-activate special move that makes shots radiate out from you, and an infinite play mode. While infinite play is pretty good, it’s also very hard (the kid in the picture on the menu select screen is crying for a reason) and would benefit greatly from online high scores.
There’s no point in resisting the nostalgic urges that old games like Pang Mobile can raise in aging gamers. You already know if buying this game will make you happy or not. However, a few warnings: the touch-area controls are not as good as the ol’ joystick, and while playing with infinite quarters is a treat, you’ll soon realize that the levels don’t hold enough variety to justify your time spent. Revisit those old memories if you’d like, but they may not be as good as you remember.