One night after the classic puzzle game Christmas party in the Netherlands, Tetris and Columns got far too drunk and fooled around in a hotel room. They knew it was wrong, but it felt so right at the time. One thing lead to another and before they knew it, little Push Panic was born. Raised in secrecy by developer Barry Kostjens and graphic designer Ricardo de Zoete, Push Panic grew up and found a home for itself on the iPhone and iPad. The question is, will Push Panic thrive now that it has flown the nest?
All this is my way of telling you that Push Panic is a smart puzzle game for iOS which take ssome elements of Columns (colour matching) and some from Tetris (falling blocks, vertically placed “game over” line) and mixes them together to create something which is undoubtedly new and yet very familiar.
The game works like this: coloured squares will fall from the top of screen and you need to touch any number of squares of the same colour to select them, then touch one again to remove the selected squares from play which frees up space in the play area. Too many squares in play and the game is over. That sounds simple enough but Push Panic doesn’t take it easy on you; those squares will come thick and fast and the game lives up to the “panic” part of its name well.
Push Panic comes with four distinct game modes, each a slight variation on the main theme. The “Classic Game” mode gives you a set number of blocks that need to be removed before you move on to the next level. With 75 levels in “Classic” mode, the challenge here is more than some games will provide in their entirety. Levels are scored and higher scores award higher medals. You need at least a bronze to get to the next level. You can maximize your points in a few different ways, you can link more blocks together for a bigger score but this means taking a bigger risk with the amount of blocks on the screen. You can also use some of the game’s special blocks which multiply your score and perform other functions which will help you achieve gold ranking.
The other three game modes are all live ranked which means you can see how well you’re doing against the thousands of other people playing Push Panic. “Score Panic” is an endless mode which simply asks you to get the highest possible score you can before the blocks overwhelm you. “Color Panic” is another endless mode that challenges you to keep the number of blocks down, if eight blocks of the same colour are on the screen then it’s game over. Finally “Time Panic”, possibly the most interesting challenge of them all, asks you to get the highest score you can in just three minutes.
All the game modes work well, but they never feel distinct enough from each other. The experience is still pretty much the same in each mode. There isn’t the variety of level design or obstacles as you’d get in a competing puzzle game like Candy Crush Saga. I think this hurts the replay factor slightly, but the game is still undoubtedly addictive. The live score boards give you something to compete against and objectives to try and achieve.
The game is very crisply presented, with bright and colourful HD graphics which mean you’re never unsure of which blocks you’re pressing or which special abilities a block might have. The blocks also bounce nicely against each other when they collide which gives the experience a very professional and high end feel. Add to that the fact that Push Panic runs at 60fps and you’ve got a very good looking game on your hands. The sound though is likely to have people near you reaching for hammers and other blunt objects to smash your phone out of your hand. They’re decent enough effects but the constant bleeping every time you touch a block and then the shimmer noise whenever you remove blocks gets really grating after a while.
Overall, this is a very impressively realised puzzle game with a good chance of hooking you in and getting you addicted by making you want to score just a little higher than you did before. However, the lack of variety lets it down a little and I can’t see myself being hooked for long before the mindless repetition would begin to wear Push Panic‘s welcome a little thin. It is free though, so I’d certainly recommend picking it up and giving it a go. Even if you only play for a while, its a fun little game.