| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Adventure; loc=NA] |
|References added: 678, 714|
"Simple Series games by Tamsoft."
Tamsoft strikes again with another Simple Series game. Kyonshi Panic seems more refined than the gang beat-em-up Kenka Joutou (see entry 714) but still nowhere near the level of the sublime O-Ane-Chan Bara (see entry 678)... though I may be prejudiced.
There are, you see, no zombie-slaying samurai cowgirls in Kyonshi Panic. There are zombies, but instead of a cowgirl samurai, you play a petite scantily-but-elaborately-dressed Chinese (?) girl with four tricks up her sleeves, corresponding to the four face buttons: Dispel (Square), Repulse (Triangle), Gun (Circle), and Sword (X). You can only have one of these armed and ready at a time, so be ready for a brief equipment-switch lag when changing between them, um except for Repulse I think, that one comes out pretty quick, and can be used to buy a little time.
Time before the zombies get you, that is. The zombies, also sorta Chinese in dress, I think, aren't all that fast, but they're fast enough, especially in the close dark quarters of the Kyonshi office buildings in which the game takes place. You go through samey-looking hallways and offices looking for survivors, while lurking zombies wait to ambush you and your tender charges. Get (some of?) the survivors to the exit and you beat the stage.
You can give the survivors simple orders, like Stay and Follow, pretty much. If a survivor sees a zombie they tend to freak out and run around in a panic, which is bad because they'll run right past the zombies, who will try to hit them. Survivors have life meters (I'm not sure that your character does!) and can presumably only take a certain number of whacks before they croak. So your job consists of going into a new room, beating on zombies with Sword or Gun until they're smoking, then Dispel them by hitting them with a magic card, then pick up any survivors and lead them into the next room. Repeat until you find the exit, and try to do so under the twenty-minute time limit.
So generally you want to clear an area, have your survivors wait by the door, then go into the next room and clear that out, then backtrack, get your old survivors, and lead them through the room you just cleared. This takes a little more time than leading them blind into the new rooms, but once more than one zombie gets loose among your survivors, you've got a big pain in the butt on your hands with zombies and panicking survivors everywhere, so I like to avoid that. Eventually you find a Map and Radar in each level, which help you see where you've been and what types of creatures are near you, although neither is as helpful as could be: the map doesn't mark doors very clearly, and the radar only extends out about twenty feet or so.
I suppose they wanted to make the game a bit scary, with zombies able to ambush you, and sometimes they really do by teleporting in at certain scripted points, but overall it's more a matter of logistics and follower management, and that gets a bit tedious. It would'a been a lot smoother if there were no loading times between rooms--there isn't much detail in these rooms, after all--but alas, such is not the case, and you have to sit through a brief loading time going in and out of ever room, which is a drag. In particular you don't want to try shooting the gun while near a doorway, because Circle also serves as the "go through this door/load" on nearby doors. Oops.
Sometimes the survivors talk, which is really annoying, because you can't tell when another chat message is coming: there's just a second or two pause in which you can't control the game, then a speech message appears, then it disappears, then another pause... Bluh. Followers also aren't very smart as far as navigation goes, and can easily get stuck on obstacles. I like how different types move differently though, for instance young men will run faster than old men or children.
I've had one boss fight and that was almost a toughie. They set it up so you had to bring the survivors into the room with you, then the boss appears right among you. If you don't whack him right away he hexes you so you can't move, then does a sword-swipe that hits all nearby hostages, then disappears. Repeat until he's dead or, I assume, all the hostages are dead. Oh well, at least it was a change of pace.
Level design, as you can perhaps tell, is extremely unimaginative through level three anyway, and everything is really dark and dreary, like the lights are out and nobody has cleaned the place for about sixty years. The characters are no great shakes, and some of the animations (zombies for instance) are downright silly. On the other hand, the FX for the Sword and Gun are pretty nice, especially when you use the charge attacks with them: a gun can do a big charged shot, and the sword a charged combo, and both have nifty particle/blur effects that cover the whole screen. You can also charge Repulse to get what I think is a force shield for a few seconds. Oh yeah and you'll find other powerups besides maps and radars, like burgers that give you more power (??) or something.
The music, like the characters, has a Chinese (right?) theme, and is rather charming with stringed instrument sounds and so forth, tending to semi-creepy minimalism while exploring a level. The menu screens are pretty nice looking, too.
Aside from the boss fight, play through level three has been really repetitive. It's not an awful game to play by any means, but I hope some new type of environment comes along, with new challenges. The boss was a nice semi-change-of-pace, but I'd really like to get out of the dingy offices. The game tracks the highest handful of clear times/hostages per stage, but I can't really see myself wanting to replay the stages I've seen thus far.