PANIC! – Review
1994 – Data East
Pick a button, any button!
Hello everyone! It’s your old friend Peter Graphic! Back with another oddball retro title you may have never heard of from the good folks at Data East! Lets get that Sega CD disc tray open and play some PANIC! Is it a game? Is it art? Is it an interactive clip show? Who knows! Read on and find out!
According to the animated intro, all the world’s technology has been infected by a new computer virus. Strange “bugs” are causing tech to malfunction everywhere. Airplane blades are square, easter island heads are falling on people, TV’s and vacuums are throwing up all over the place! People are getting ejected out of telephone booths, its bananas! A program called “PANIC!” has been created to stop the virus and restore order to the world. A perfect way to show off how wacky this is gonna get.
Panic has two main characters. Slap – a little boy in pink overalls and a little hat and his dog Stick. While playing Sega Slap gets sucked into the TV. Stick just kinda shows up now and then. Get it? Slap-Stick? Yeah. If you rolled your eyes at that, I can already tell you this isn’t the game for you, but more on that later.
Ok. Here’s where it gets tricky. There really isn’t any game play. For example. Slap is sitting in front of an elevator and a box with buttons appears. You can pick any random one you want, and something happens. Sometimes you’re crushed by a crowd running out of the elevator, or sometimes the door opens. The next screen may be a copy machine. A box pops up and its different colored buttons. Pick one and the copier spits out copies of itself. Another button and it drips green ooze all over the floor.
Picking the right button leads to a new scene and the idea repeats. Scene starts, buttons appear. Maybe a few, maybe a lot. Maybe colored or maybe not. Press one and something absurd happens. Press another and something weird happens. A Lot of the time it’s pretty funny, but mostly it’s a chuckle. Slap tends to make an annoyed face at the camera, which is pretty priceless sometimes.
Some cut scenes are a rocket blowing up a monument. Which is supposed to be a “glitch” in the system. Some are of a new character making a weird skit, or joke. Which is very hard to explain. It’s almost like Monty Python sketches or something. A personal favorite is a screen where Slap is at a desert A-Bomb site. Press the right button and a big butt shows up and farts. Did I mention there’s a lot of potty humor in this? Because there’s a lot of potty humor in this. It’s great.
That’s it. That’s the game.
PANIC has incredibly easy controls. Guide a cursor over a button and hit said button. Easy peasy. The US version even supports the mega-mouse.
The graphics in PANIC are excellent. The Sega CD really shines in this area, and always does a better job of animating cartoons then it ever does with live action footage. It’s crisp,colorful and the sprites are large and attractive. There’s a lot, A LOT of visual puns, and they are really easy to tell what you’re looking at. There’s a large sprite of the Mona Lisa that looks great as it changes faces at one point. Each screen is lush and detailed and you really don’t know what to expect each time you press a button.
PANIC may not take full advantage of the Sega CD’s audio capabilities, but when it plays a weird intro to a scene it gets the job done. There’s really no memorable tunes in my opinion, but the sound effects are on another level. Creepy songs, Gross liquid squishy sounds, robots humming, crowd noise. It all sounds great! I will admit, sometimes dialog is hard to hear at times.
Let’s be honest. It’s not difficult to pick out a button and press it. What gets difficult is making any “progress”. There is some sort of story, and you’re supposed to get to the main source of the virus, but I never had any idea how to get to that goal, or what my progress was. Add to the fact that some buttons send you right back to the last screen makes it frustrating at times. Another annoying factor is the buttons you need to press look the same, and I flat out forgot which one I pressed and saw the same gag again.
PANIC is a strange game for sure, and you may be tempted to just watch the jokes on Youtube (heck, I did for this review). Something can be said because it’s really fun taking the risk/reward by pressing buttons on your own. Some jokes are legit funny!
While It’s got a lot of replay value, It can get repetitive quickly. You’ll see a lot of jokes over and over. Be warned complete copies of this game are pretty expensive since it had a low print run. But If you like wacky, sometimes juvenile jokes and bad puns – PANIC is for you. If not, give it a pass.
It gets 3 trogs from me, I’m into weird games. Until next time!
GameTrog Review By
Peter Graphic is a retro game player and collector. He enjoys writing about and photographing his collection as much as he likes to play! Follow him on Instagram!