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The Pang/Buster Bros. series is a series of games where the goal is to pop bouncing balloons by using harpoons on a screen while avoiding being hit by them. It's more addictive than it sounds.
The series spans four games:
- Pang/Buster Bros. (Arcade / numerous ports, 1989)
- Super Pang/Super Buster Bros. (Arcade / Super NES / PlayStation, 1990)
- Pang! 3/Buster Buddies (Arcade / PlayStation, 1995)
- Mighty! Pang (Arcade, 2000)
The Pang series contains examples of:
- Adaptation Displacement: Hudson Soft's 1983 ZX Spectrum game Bubble Buster (aka Cannon Ball) is recognisably a prototype of this game, though without the world-tour backstory or the powerups/bonuses.
- Asteroids Monster: Almost solely.
- Bullet Time: If you collect an hourglass powerup, the balloons will gradually slow down and then go back to normal speed.
- Collision Damage: Touching any balloon will kill you (or break your shield). The game will even briefly pause and show you where you got hit before your character goes flying around the screen.
- Combo: Popping balloons of the same size in succession will multiply the points they give you by 2x, 4x, then 8x from the fourth onward.
- Crowning Music of Awesome
- Every Ten Thousand Points: You'll get extra lives at various point milestones.
- Excuse Plot: The balloons are apparently trying to take over the world.
- In Pang! 3, you're a group of thieves stealing famous paintings.
- Frictionless Ice: Completely averted with Pink Leopard in Pang! 3, who has the power to walk on ice as if it were normal ground. Otherwise ice is low-friction.
- Golden Snitch: The golden star balloons will pop all other balloons on screen, effectively clearing the screen in Panic modes, or clearing a stage in Tour mode.
- Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: Trying to take over the world and being able to kill you in one hit is pretty destructive, I'd say.
- Lighter and Softer: Mighty! Pang is much more Japanese-style "cute" than the other games in the series.
- One Harpoon At A Time: By default only one harpoon is allowed on the screen until it hits a balloon or reaches the top of the screen and disappears. With the double harpoon powerup, you can have two on screen at a time.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Unless you have a shield -- in which case you're a two-hit-point wonder.
- One Up: There are 1-ups in the form of items, usually in specific destructible blocks. Some levels are also "1-up prone", meaning that bubbles have a chance of dropping them when popped. Also see Every Ten Thousand Points above. The games are still plenty difficult.
- Poison Mushroom: Dynamite. It will split every balloon up until they're reduced to their smallest size. Often results in death. Better hope they drop some shields or clocks while they split...
- However, Pink Leopard in Pang! 3 can pick up dynamite with no adverse effects.
- Power-Up Letdown: The machine gun and grapple powerups in the first game. Just the grapple powerup in the second game. Your Mileage May Vary.
- Rewarding Vandalism: Powerups, food, coins, and 1-ups can be found in destructible blocks.
- Selective Gravity: The hexagonal balloons in Super Pang fly in a straight line and will bounce in the opposite direction if they hit a wall.
- Mighty! Pang has balloons that have inverted gravity. Watch out when they're at the "peak" of their bounce.
- Sequel Escalation: The machine gun was really wimpy in the first game, firing only two shots immediately above you and it had a crappy fire rate. This increased to four shots in a wider range and with a better fire rate in Super Pang. By Pang! 3 and Mighty! Pang, it is taken Up to Eleven; it will vaporize the largest balloons so fast that the sound effects can't keep up. The only disadvantage to using the machine gun is that it can't break destructible blocks (see Rewarding Vandalism above).
- The grapple powerup got progressively better too; in the original, it took several button presses to cancel and launch another one if you launched one in a bad place. In Super Pang it's still pretty scrappy but takes fewer shots to cancel. Pang! 3 made it great; launching one will immediately cancel the one already on screen, and it extends faster than normal harpoons as well. Captain Hog's double grapple harpoons are almost a Game Breaker.
- Songs in the Key of Panic: In Super Pang and onward, starts from 20 units of time left. The first game has two of these: one starting from 50 units of time and another from 20.
- Timed Mission: Every level in Tour mode.
- Time Stands Still: If you collect a clock powerup or hit a flashing balloon in Panic Mode, all of the balloons (and in all but the first game, your remaining time) will freeze for a few seconds. You also won't die if you're in contact with one while they're frozen.
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