Pang 3 All Versions : Mobile Cell Phone Games

Description : It might not seem very menacing being assailed by slow-falling bubbles, but a friend of mine has an almost paralysing fear of balloons, so the inherent tension found in a game of Pang is very real to him. Of course, other than birthdays and hot air balloon festivals, he doesn't have any real problems so I think we can consider him to be fairly lucky in life.

That is, so long as I keep my mobile a respectable distance from him while playing Capcom's latest conversion of the surreal arcade game, Pang 3. This is a direct conversion of the second coin-op sequel, which was known as Buster Buddies in the US. Despite having no relevant meaning, Pang is a much better name. It just is.

Anyway, the first sequel broke away from the beloved grappling hook gameplay that made the original such a success, exchanging the rope and spear for a gun. Wisely, the developers decided to return to the original for inspiration when it came to Pang 3, and we pick up with four new characters trapped in a museum with large, coloured balls falling on their heads.

You have to run around the single screen room launching harpoons toward the ceiling with the intension of bursting a cluster of orbs. Should a bubble hit either the spear head or the rope, it bursts and splits in two. Each half then splits in two again when burst, until finally the smallest bubbles pop into oblivion. Each diminishing size of bubble bounces lower and lower, making it increasingly difficult to run underneath them and crack off a harpoon.

The major difference to the original game is in the characters. Each of the four playable characters has his own skills with a harpoon. These abilities are mostly taken from the temporary collectables found in the first Pang game, such as harpoons that stick to the ceiling and double-shot spears. The most interesting is probably Sheila the Thief, whose lines ricochet off the floor at 45 degrees, adding a fair amount of challenge and making up for one particular flaw in Pang 3's gameplay.

Pang 3 makes an effort to slicken the running movement of the characters. Whether this was really necessary is a matter of debate, since the character speed in the original Pang was a significant part of its challenge, but regardless of opinion the developers succeeded.

They also increased the speed of the harpoons, which has damaged the gameplay more than the characters' quick feet. Shooting bubbles directly, rather than releasing a well timed harpoon for the rope to pop the bubbles is now the only real tactic. Frantically bashing the fire button in the original game wouldn't yield fruit, while in this latest version a panicked flurry of thumbs can take up the slack for careless strategy.

One intriguing addition is the Panic mode, which assails our bubble-bursting heroes with a constant rain of bubbles and stars (which react the same way, but float around the screen instead of bouncing). This mode works very well on the mobile platform, as it overcomes the minor difficulties of navigating the tiny characters up and down the rather irksome ladders of later levels.

Essentially there's nothing at all wrong with this conversion, which is nigh-on arcade perfect, but the original Pang was a tough act to follow and neither of the sequels ever really lived up to it. On top of that, it's not long since Pang saw a very decent conversion which was more closely related to the original, and best, of the series.

If you've played through Pang Returns and are looking for more bubble bursting challenges, Pang 3 offers a decent amount, but it's definitely a little flat in comparison.

Supported Mobiles : All Sony Ericsson & Nokia Cell Phone Mobiles

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