Review – Peter Panic

I don’t know about you but I love musicals. I honestly have no idea why. Another thing I love is video games (yes, I know this is a shocking development.) Unfortunately, video games are not a medium that really does musicals very often, and most musical video games I can think of are rhythm based. I actually googled musical video games, and I saw things like Guitar Hero, PaRappa the Rapper, Bit.Trip, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, but no normal games that happen to be musicals. Yet I have found a game that is not a rhythm game, but a collection of mini-games that just happens to be a musical. Where did this rather fun and unique idea come from? Adult Swim Games, of all places.

Our player character, Peter, wants to be a director at his childhood theater, only to find that it’s about to be shut down due to a production of Peter Pan turning out worse than Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. So Peter goes on a quest to save his local theater, and eventually uncovers the full story that was much stranger than he originally thought. How does he plan to do this? Through the power of spontaneously bursting into musical numbers! (well, that and playing micro-games, but the music is awesome, man!)

The gameplay is heavily inspired by Nintendo’s WarioWare franchise, the creator even saying he made the game to be what he imagined WarioWare was as a child (unfortunately, WarioWare does not have nearly as many musical numbers. Although it did have a few now that I think about it.) Each level you play a selection of micro-games that each run on a timer of usually five seconds. The games are very fun and each micro-game goes along with the theme of the level. There’s a set number of micro-games you need to clear before moving onto the next level. Of course before and after every level you get to hear what’s happening in the story via MUSICAL NUMBERS! Have I mentioned how much I love the musical numbers? The people they got to sing aren’t just average everyday voice actors. They actually got real Broadway talent for this! One of the characters is apparently voiced by Emily Skeggs who was in a play called Fun Home and I don’t really recognize most of the cast because I don’t know much about Broadway actors… but I do know Grant Kirkhope was in this and he’s a famous video game composer that did a bunch of stuff for Rare in the mid-90s to early 2000s including Banjo-Kazooie which is cool and apparently also did CityVille 2 and YOU CAN BUY THE WHOLE SOUNDTRACK ON iTUNES HERE IT’S SO AWESOMEasdfghjkl;’456+ I really need to calm down.

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Winners never cheat and winners don’t use drugs, but in some cases they can have a similar effect.

Oh right, something important I should really be mentioning. The game itself comes free, and you can play the entire game for free if you want to. Great deal, right? Well, there’s also the fact that the ability to save your progress is $3.99. You know, usually I would be mad at such a basic feature of a game being locked behind a paywall. It’s the kind of thing DLC Quest exists to satirize. But you know, I’m not really angry. It may be because in the past games really didn’t save your progress in the first place, and starting from where you left off was either a matter of knowing a continue code (which not all games had) or entering a Game Genie code you got from your friends that could start you at the final level or it could turn your game into a piece of insane abstract art (as shown on the right). Or it could be because every time you complete a level without having bought the save function you get a new message from the developers telling you in hilarious ways why you should buy it, which makes me disappointed that I actually did buy it to begin with. Oh yeah, did I mention this game also has a great sense of humor? A lot of it involves satire on theater itself, which I mostly didn’t get but my dad, who really does enjoy theater, definitely loved. Also there’s the one character who seems way too obsessed with packing peanuts and the demon-possessed Magic School Bus. This game is weird, but weird games can be fun!

This game had very fun gameplay, great voice acting and writing, and an amazing soundtrack that is one of the few times I’ve wanted to buy a soundtrack separate from the game. I give this an 8 out of 10.

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