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PandaMania Review
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The Tower and Castle Defence games genre is one of the most popular genres for the iPhone with hundreds of games to choose from, most notably titles such as Plants Vs Zombies and ZombieSmash. It’s now developer Fizz Pow’s turn to show us what they’ve got with their first game for the iPhone. Can their characteristic defence game called PandaMania rank amongst the best the genre has to offer?

PandaMania begins when a Warrior Panda is asleep and an evil little thief appears and steals the Panda’s glorious moustache, known as a Fu Manchu. The Panda’s Fu Manchu is his source of strength and power and therefore he must get it back. As the Panda is wondering through the land looking for his Fu Manchu, screams of help from a nearby village are heard, and the village happens to be being attacked by the evil creatures who stole your precious moustache. The game centers around the heroic Panda, who happens to be an expert with a bow and arrow, helping save the villages, defeating the evil armies and get back his Fu Manchu.

The gameplay has you defending a tower from a variety of oncoming enemies by using your bow and arrow. You simply pull forward on the bow and arrow to aim your shot, and release your finger to fire the arrow. A last shot indicator has been included which is a nice touch as this makes it easier to adjust your next shot incase you need to aim closer or further away. The developers Fizz Pow have nailed the sensitivity of the aiming, making it fun and extremely rewarding to take out enemies from long distances.

You are rewarded with gold coins as you defeat the bad guys and complete levels, and you can use these coins to upgrade your weapons and fortify your tower. You start with a standard bow and can upgrade to a fire bow, and ice bow which freezes your enemies and the ability to fire 3 arrows at the same time. You have to wait a small amount of time for these abilities to recharge and therefore using them at the correct time is vital to success in the latter levels of the game. Each of the abilities themselves can be upgraded along with the health of the tower so you’ll have to spend the hard earnt coins wisely.

The gameplay in PandaMania is constantly changing due to the fantastic variety of enemies you will encounter. You’ve got the standard boring enemies mixed in with enemies that will rush towards your castle, long range enemies which you must defeat first, enemies with shields, flying enemies and others to add to the equation. Some enemies which will appear in the colour yellow or purple, meaning they have extra health and will require additional hits to defeat which adds another dimension to your thinking.

Choosing which baddies to take out first in order to stop your tower from taking damage can be a challenge when there are 3 or 4 different types of enemies on the screen at one time, and this makes for some fast-paced fun gameplay. Killing a certain amount of enemies will reward you with “PandaMania” which is where your Panda will fire multiple arrows up into the air at the same time, scattering them over the landscape and likely taking out a bunch of enemies at the same time. The PandaMania meter can rise up to 5x depending on how long you choose to leave it before unleashing your special ability on the level. The more PandaMania ability you have, the more arrows your Panda will shoot in the air resulting in more enemies being taken out, and therefore you’re rewarded for being patient and avoiding being outrun by enemies early on. If you manage to reach 5x PandaMania, your Panda will unleash a machine gun Rambo-style on the enemies and kick some serious arse, and this is very entertaining to watch; aswell as being very helpful!

The game consists of 50 levels spanning 5 different environments and will take a good few hours to complete. Each of the 5 different locations looks completely different to the next and brings along new enemies to conquer and a well designed boss battle at the end of each “world” so to speak. The boss battles require some accurate aiming as you need to attack the bosses’ weak point in order to make any impact. The game has 3 difficulty modes and therefore some replayability if you begin on easy or normal mode, with the hard difficulty mode providing a real challenge.

PandaMania is pure eye-candy throughout and is in my opinion one of the best looking games available for the iPhone at the time of writing this review. The locations through the game are vibrant and colourful and the variety will help keep you from becoming bored of the game. The animations are well done and the gameplay runs silky-smooth with not even a hint of slow-down or framerate issues. The story is told via well drawn storyboards which can provide some humorous moments as you play through the game.

I can confidently say that PandaMania has become one of my favourite Defence genre games, matching the high standards set by games such as Plants Vs Zombies and ZombieSmash. The addictive and easy to play but hard to master gameplay has me playing the game for hours at a time. If you’re even the slightest a fan of tower defence games, I highly recommend checking out PandaMania which is a steal at it’s current price of $1.99/£1.19.

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PandaMania Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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