Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Indie Game Review - Super Panda Adventures

Sometimes you unearth a hidden gem purely by chance.  The vast majority of games I review here are ones I get sent for review - but not this one.  I got it purely because it was extremely cheap in the sale, I had some funds in my Steam Wallet from selling trading cards obtained playing other games, and I thought it looked cute and my daughter would probably like it.

Well my daughter does like it - in fact both my daughters absolutely love it - but once I started playing it myself, I couldn't stop!

Super Panda Adventures is a 2D platformer with lovely retro aesthetics that I could have easily imagined I was playing on the SNES.  The gameplay is fast and fluid, with responsive controls and full gamepad support.  Soon it becomes apparent that this is no mere platformer, however - RPG elements are skillfully woven into it, with a nice levelling system and relics to find that grant you special abilities.  Each level has numerous places that you won't be able to access first time round, as you will need certain abilities to reach every last place.    There are various characters you can talk to along the way and while interaction is somewhat limited, the writing is consistently amusing.  Fast, insistent tunes pound away in the background and there are a smattering of sound effects.

Because the gameplay is so smooth it works nicely enough as a pure platformer, but the RPG elements really add to the game game, and it definitely helps that it's all done very tongue-in-cheek.  The gameplay can get a little repetitive and a couple of the boss battles did seem a little on the tough side (there there is one easier difficulty level than the "Easy" mode I completed the game with), but once you work out the best place for grinding (no I'm not going to tell you! :P) it's usually not too time-consuming.  My kids both love the game to bits, and a large part of the reason it took me so long to complete is that they kept insisting on having "their turn" on the game!  Hmm... I don't remember actually agreeing to this "turn" business...

The RPG element works pretty well, with multiple skills that you can improve as you progress.  You make your biggest XP gains completing quests - of which there are quite a few - by collecting tokens that sometimes appear when you vanquish a foe, or you can even buy XP packets in a shop (coins, also, can be dropped by defeated enemies).  Of course there are items that are just on the landscape to be picked up as well, but unlike the enemies (which are mainly in the form of nasty robots), these do not re-spawn.

It's one of the few games I've come across so far that happily supports my Vcom gamepad, and overall it's a lovely little game.  True it can get repetitive, but the way each location slowly opens up with new places to explore as you gain new abilities stops things from becoming stale.  You get a lot of gameplay for a very low price, and if you like retro games at all, I would recommend that you give this one a look.

Available on Steam for £1.99 (at time of writing, it's in the Steam Sales for only 49 pence, an absolute steal).

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