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Pandemonium: Alpha by Appliance

Title ScreenTitle Screen

I remember when Appliance first showed up on the Z2 fora, to the usual taunting and derision of the resident users, and I was always amused by the way he simply refused to give up. And I have to admit that, to at least some extent, it appears to have worked.

Fenx:( . )( . ) =DFenx:( . )( . ) =D

Appliance has kept his head, stuck around, made quite a few games of gradually improving quality, submitted to ZZTV, and has even acquired a few fans, as evident in the reviews for his Card Prime games (which I admittedly don't much like, personally) on both Z2 and (formerly) on Zeuxworld. And now, he's landed himself an MTP.

With Pandemonium: Alpha, Appliance has made a game I like, a science-fiction sidescroller with Rina, a gun-toting superhuman heroine with the obligatory mysterious past, and her well-meaning pilot Fenx, who apparently (as evident in the second screenshot) greatly admires her. Ever since Operation Σ, in which the peaceful planet Lucindia was defended from the Drakorian race, Rina WHO HAS A NINJA ROPE has been in suspended animation, and now that a Drakorian attack again impends, she is awakened to undertake a series of missions to ascertain the nature of the threat, and to deal with it as any advanced, futuristic civilised society would ...

That screen is pretty big.That screen is
pretty big.
NINJA ROPE!!1NINJA ROPE!!1

... that is, find out where they are, and then kill a series of bosses, then their leader, being careful to blow lots of shit up on the way. In a sidescroller, no less.

As Commodore might remember, I'm always a bit wary of sidescroller games, but in this case (as in Commodore's), Appliance has produced a very good side-scroller with decent programming, a soundtrack, responsive controls, and clever elements of skill and strategy. AND IT HAS A NINJA ROPE AND THAT IS TOTALLY COOL

Gameplay takes place in stages of four or five levels each, with a cutscene for plot development and exposition between each stage. Rina's missions vary from the theft of information from enemy computers to USING HER NINJA ROPE; THAT'S THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE GAME acrobatics to the confrontation of bosses (which are generally pretty easy to defeat). The engine is cleanly programmed, and I am pleased to say I don't think I encountered a single bug.

The game is challenging enough to engage interest and there are a few things that'll take most players at least a couple of tries to get past, but it's not insanely difficult and the puzzles are generally very straightforward. Rina's versatility in movement (she can climb up walls AND HAS THIS REALLY COOL NINJA ROPE, TRUST ME, IT'S COOL, I LOVE IT) has allowed Appliance considerable flexibility in level design, and he has taken the care to make his work graphically presentable.

The story is pretty neat, if not particularly novel, and is developed in stages throughout the game. The ending is a bit curt (it leads into a promised sequel). Fenx and Rina really don't get along, though I imagine Appliance's intention is to tie them together by the end of the series.

Shoot.Shoot.

Pandemonium: Alpha is, overall, a damn good sci-fi sidescroller. I admit to looking at the separate colours of each letter of the title screen (I hate that) and thinking, "enh", but in the end I found the game very involving and interesting, and was left feeling decidedly impressed. I guess it's also kind of nice to see another author who likes heroines rather than heroes.

Congratulations on your award, Appliance. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

7 / 10