Posts Tagged ‘arcade’

Game Review: Polar Panic

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Polar Panic : Busy Gamer Rating 5

Polar Panic : Busy Gamer Rating 5

First Glance:
Cartoon-y, winter-y, arcade style puzzler. Kind of like trying to solve a puzzle while playing Pac Man.

The Short Story:
Polar Panic has you playing as a polar bear, trying to navigate through a world filled with ice block puzzles and the goons of an evil corporation on a quest to save your bear-napped family. Choose from Story Mode, Puzzle Mode, or Survivor Mode (which can be single or multi player)- whichever way you go, its going to involve sliding and smashing blocks of ice, smashing blocks of snow, and with the exception of puzzles mode, smashing goons. FYI- Those trappers might look kinda like Santa, but they’re only jolly after they bash your skull in.

The Score:
The phrase “it is what it is” comes to mind… Polar Panic is an arcade-style game, so it should be judged as such. But its not an arcade game so phenomenal that it would tempt hardcore gamers to get caught up in it. It fails to transcend its’ genre. That said, its not an absolutely awful game. I won’t pretend that I didn’t start to enjoy watching the swell of blood as I smashed an enemy with a block of ice.. but I didn’t start to enjoy the game until about an hour in. Up until then, the negative aspects of the game were more apparent to me. I give Polar Panic a Busy Gamer score of 5, with the caveat that you probably won’t want to play it for more than an hour a day anyway.

Body of Review:
I get excited about a game when I hear someone say “I usually don’t play (game genre here), but I really loved (game name here). Now I admit, I am not a huge fan of arcade games aside from those that trigger my nostalgia, and I tend to view puzzles more as an obstacle I have to get across to get to the next part of my game than the fun of the game. But I went at Polar Panic with an open mind, hoping I would find myself surprised at how addictive it was. It fell a bit short. When I brought in a second player (one who is more fond of puzzles than I) to help me test the multi player, his most memorable quote was actually, “Well, looks like that’s about it. Can we stop playing now?”

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So what was so unremarkable about the game? The controls largely consist of directionals and XXX..X..X…XXXXXXXXX… and the game itself is overly repetitive. The level of difficulty also seems arbitrary- some levels are so easy you think you’re playing a game for toddlers, but they may be preceded by a level that is so frustrating it really is “mind-numbing”, to quote the game’s own copy. The story is extremely childlike but not in an endearing way, and is more of an encumbrance to the game than anything. In puzzle mode, every puzzle you solve unlocks- surprise- another puzzle, which isn’t problematic in and of itself, but they could have thrown in some different sorts of rewards or different ways to unlock the rest of the puzzles to make it a bit more interesting. In story mode, the save system is such that one small mistake can set you back to repeat quite a bit of game play, and if you quit before you beat every level in the chapter, you have to start back at the chapter’s beginning. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the game weren’t already repetitive. Also, it seems as if the darts fired by the hunters behave a bit inconsistently, sometimes killing you when you think they are too far out and sometimes letting you escape by a very narrow margin.