Saturday, 14 November 2015

Miracle! Panzou - 7-Tsu no Hoshi no Uchuu Kaizoku

I think that means "Space Pirates of the Seven Stars", but I could be wrong. Anyway, it's a combination shooting game and platformer, and though it looks and feels like it might be based on some anime aimed at little kids, I haven't found any actual evidence that it might be.

Anyway, each world has three parts. The first is flying to the world by spaceship, represented by a short and very easy vertical shooting section. Then, you land on the world, and walk around a top-down map with a vacuum cleaner sucking up little creatures and finding the entrances to the actual stages. The actual stages come in platform form. On the map, there are doors with orbs on them, with stages behind them. At the end of each stage there's an orb, and the doors open when you have as many orbs as they're displaying. So progression between stages is totally linear (not that that's a problem or anything, but the map sections add nothing else to the game). The last door on the map leads to the boss.

Miracle! Panzou is a nice looking game, and it's fairly fun to play at first, but it does have some pretty big problems. Firstly, there's one of the worst problems with a lot of post-2000 videogames: pointless tutorials for everything. It mainly only effects the first stage (with exceptions when you gain a new ability, though there's no real reason why those abilities couldn't have been available from the start anyway, another modern game design nuisance), but there, your play will be interrupted so you can be told how to shoot, jump and pretty much every other action, no matter how basic. There's also the problem that I feel bad about bringing up, since it feels so subective: the games is just way too easy. Like I'm sure you have, I've read that criticism being given out by all sorts of idiots, from those who don't understand the point of Kirby games, to those who think credit feeding through an arcade port on the easiest settings means they've seen all it has to offer.

Miracle! Panzou just doesn't feel like even the slightest challenge at any point. I played through the first two worlds, which took about 20-30 minutes, and there were no hard parts, no progression in difficulty from one world to the next, nothing. The new abilities that were obtained weren't really any use except as "keys" (the double jump appears just before the first time you reach a platform that's just out of reach for a single jump, the charge punch appears just before you reach a statue that has to be smashed to progress, and other than similar specific situations, there's no uses for them). It just felt like the game was wasting my time and I might as well have been watching a tv show while mindlessly pressing buttons. Looking at the game's aesthetics, it was probably made with a younger audience in mind, but to me, that's not a valid excuse. There's plenty of games suitable for children, while still being challenging and interesting. A game like Miracle! Panzou, however, just feels insulting.

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