On a recent sojourn to Crystal Dynamics. EGM was pleasantly surprised to find out that Crystal had a new action game in the works. The editors were even more surprised when they offered to show EGM an extensive look. The game's called Pandemonium and it is just that. Pandemonium is a chaotic action side-scroller that combines the high speed of Sonic with the adventure of Mario.
Pandemonium was still early, but it had enough preliminary game-play to give EGM an idea on how the final product would be. Players control one of the two characters through a series of huge worlds. You'll find all sorts of classic platform pitfalls, like locked doors and trampolines. However, you rarely (if at all) find instant deaths. The programmers want you to run at top speed without having to worry about falling to your doom. That isn't to say that Pandemonium is easy--it's just not cheap.
The worlds range from mushrooms to dungeons, with all sorts strange creatures roaming about. Sometimes you'll have to actually use the enemies to get past certain sections of the game. You can bounce off of groups of enemies to get over pits, or even get a chasing monster to bash walls for you. There are plenty of secrets hidden throughout each level, mostly involving jumping to higher sections. You can beat this game completely and not go through it all.
One thing that really sets Pandemonium apart from the current slew of 3-D-based action games is that it uses the look, but doesn't interfere with the gameplay of traditional side-scrollers. In fact, it is a side-scroller. However, the 3-D effect scales and scrolls around the character, giving it a highly cinematic feel. The camera is set to be at the perfect place so you won't have to constantly readjust your playing viewpoint. This fits in with the programmer's feelings on speed. They don't want you readjusting every few seconds. Pandemonium is a smooth, non-stop action fest.
Pandemonium! was a great PlayStation title, and it makes a stylin' debut on the beleaguered Sega Saturn. This past year has seen the emergence of the pseudo-3D genre, and Pandemonium! still leads the pack. Filled with excellent 2-D action on 3-D backgrounds, Pandemonium! on the Saturn is a step above its PlayStation sibling. The control is not perfect, but it is tighter, which is a blessing on later levels. The only surprise, which isn't a bad thing, is the different color usage for the levels. On the PlayStation, the color was bright and happy... happy...happy. This version is gloomier, with darker foreboding colors that set a slightly different mood as you play. Basically, there is no difference between the two games, but months later, Crystal Dynamics has seen fit to fully optimize it for the Saturn (another disturbing trend in video games). If you are one of those lucky few who own both systems, this is the version to get, but if you already own Pandemonium! for the PlayStation, the changes aren't worth the money. If you only have a Saturn, why are you still here? Go buy it! You won't regret it. Ah, it is refreshing to see the floundering 2-D side-scrolling platform make the leap to pseudo-3-D in order to remain a viable marketing option...
OK, before you guys start researching old issues for my score for Pandemonium! on the PlayStation (which was 9.0) let me just say that the 0.5 difference comes from the slight decrease in graphic quality. I really liked Pandemonium! on the PS, and I still like it now. It's a lot of fun to play and I didn't find that it got old in the slightest. I'll buy it.
Crystal Dynamics' parting gift to Sega (Pandemonium! is their last Saturn game) is a fine one. This visual and musical tour de force may not be the most original thing around (it's a simple side-scroller with very cool 3-D backgrounds and perspectives), and the controls stink (the original Super Mario Bros, had better), but I still highly recommend it.
Everyone should play through Pandemonium! at least once, if for no other reason than to gawk at its gee-wiz special effects and wild, winding levels (which hold plenty of hidden areas). It happens to be a solid 3-D side-scroller to boot. Control is tight for the most part but sometimes it becomes awkward when the camera whirls around into a new perspective.
Processor: PC compatible, P-200
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
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