Review: Pandemonium


Technically perfect, but nothing stunning for the user.

Author: Eidos and Crystal Dynamics

Version Reviewed: 1.00

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Title ScreenFrom the dawn of time came... the platform game! Right after top down maze games (think Pac Man clones gone wild), you had the 'look at your man from the side and jump over gaps, beasties, spikes and collect stuff. And it spawned thousands of variants, some good, some bad, some utterly wonderful - is there are more perfectly balanced game than Jet Set Willy? Thought not.

The platform game gives probably the best sense of 'being there' in a video game - that's why it's been so popular over the years, with countless classic implementations on every new device. Now here's Pandemonium, another of the brand new Nokia N-Gage Game Cards... that have previously appeared on the Sony Playstation.

Looking AheadFor all the lush graphics, 3-D views and wibbly background story, it's a platformer. The control are your basic left/right/jump, with an additional button to fire any of the colour 'cloud' weapons you absorb along the way.

But Pandemonium isn't that good. The plot (you and your friends find a Spellbook, cast a nasty version of Alohamora, and now need to find a plant to reverse the spell) is minimal in the extreme. Playing the game and you can find all the flaws in the implementation. The levels are very linear in that there is only one real way to go to reach the end. You never feel you are exploring the worlds, or in control of your destiny. Hovering over you all the time, pulling you forward with little thought to diversity, is the all-knowing programmer.

A Bouncy ViewSome N-Gage conversions look at the vertically orientated screen and use it to their advantage. Not on Pandemonium. They've left you abandonded in the middle of the screen, and you can see only a few feet in front of you. Every creature that ponders up to you is on you before you can see it - woe betitde you if you're moving forward at the time.

And when you die, it's back to the very start of the level. There's no intermediate spots, there's no keeping track of getting past that really awkward jump, it's back to the start of the level. Uttely frustrating. Because you'd expect to get your three lives back when you continue. And do you? No. If you started that level with one live, then after a continue, you still have one life - not three. What's the point of a continue system that breaks the unwritten rules of gaming?

But it all looks really nice, there's a huge number of pixels being hurled around the screen, showing off the power of the N-Gage, and for the first few minutes (ie when you're testing it in the shop) it's a wonderful game. So... technically perfect, but nothing stunning for the user. Pandemonium recreates the console gaming experience perfectly. The box looks great, the graphics are amazing, but the gameplay is a bit boring after 10 minutes.

A decidedly average 60%


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