find it hard to believe that a year has passed since the original
Pandemonium game hit the streets. It seemed to quietly sneak out
from under the massive promotion and hype that surrounded Sony's
flagship platform character, Crash Bandicoot, and in my opinion,
turned out to be a far better game. The plot is as strange as the
pairing of the two main characters and goes something like this.
It is the Year of the Cheese. As was foretold by the midget
prophet Nosewasinit in the Book of Condiments, the Comet of Infinite
Possibilities has returned to the skies of Lyr, peppering the air
with a certain je ne sais quai.
Encased within the comet is whispered to be a rudimentary
force of nature, a source of magic so elemental, so unlimited, so
oozing with creamy nougat, so finger-licking chocolicious, that to
possess this magic would be to wield supreme, infinite, everlasting
It is this power that the young Sorceress Nikki craves. Nikki
is no longer the limpet-eyed young knave. She has grown, blossomed,
'leafed-out and sapped' as it were. And as she has sprouted, so have
her desires... and her means to achieve them. Additionally, Nikki is
just too darn busy to hang out in some draughty library pouring over
dry, dusty, worm-ridden tomes of magic. Instead, she decided to cut
some corners on her way to becoming the Sorceress Supreme and snatch
the comet's legendary powers.
Sadly, the years haven't been as kind to Nikki's bosom buddy,
Fargus. Being a few eggs short of an omelette, Fargus' maturation
took a downturn after several laboratory 'mishaps' and the infamous
Pancake Incident. Fargus got into the habit of spending his days,
and nights, riding his hobby-horse Big Ernie and cackling
uncomfortably. He also looted a new outfit from the Liberace
As Nikki explains, "Fargus is a freak, but in a good way.
He's proud of his violent, maniacal side. He can't even tie his
shoes, but he can build a thermonuclear bomb from common household
items and set a fortress on fire before you can say Werner von
Braun. He may be an idiot savant, but he's got great hair."
Fargus' sour sidekick , the armless, legless, buttless Sid, is
reportedly the lost sole of an ancient warrior. Whoever's boot he
dropped from, he forgot the laces and shinola and ended up with the
tongue. Sid can cross verbal wits with the best of them. Sid would
like to dump Fargus and get closer to Nikki.
Back in Lyr, the Goon Queen Zorrscha with her evil seductive
charms has enslaved the entire Goon Empire. She is using this cheap,
expendable, non-union labor to construct a fleet of rockets to fly
her to the mystic comet in her personal quest for the mythical
"That red-haired trollop and her moronic, tastelessly
dressed lap-dog are only going to find death and torture if they
follow me, "she was heard to hiss." Don't get too big for
your spandex, Nikki."
The race is on to stop the evil ruler from plundering the
comet's magic and perverting its power to her twisted desires of
bringing freedom and happiness to the land.
It's up to Nikki and Fargus to put an end to the odious,
hateful, despicable and hair-color challenged Queen's unwanted
is often cited as being the inspiration behind the recent spate of
32-bit, 2D gameplay set in a 3D world and although Crystal Dynamics'
medieval platformer wasn't the first title to pioneer the pseudo 3D
technique it was certainly the most successful. As we all know in
this industry, success warrants a sequel and true to form Crystal
Dynamics have recently released Pandemonium 2, the second on-screen
outing for the Odd Couple, Nikki and Fargus.
The characters have been changed since we last saw them. Nikki
and Fargus appear older, wiser, and more experienced than before,
and to reflect this Crystal Dynamics have given them both a new look
and amazing new abilities to help spice up the game.
game opens with yet another lengthy intro that oozes quality. Fargus
looks as mad as a hatter but is probably only being himself, while
the transformation of Nikki is as believable as accepting that
Batman characters Adam West and Val Kilmer are the same character.
Let's be truthful here - Nikki has been sacked, made redundant,
disposed of, only to be replaced by a sleek and slender goddess who
has a twinkle in her eye. I think that Crystal Dynamics have taken a
look over their shoulder at a certain Tomb Raider character and then
sharpened up their act. This could be an interesting game if the
intro is anything to go by.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? I loved the graphical style of the
original game and have praised it loudly from the highest rooftops
for over twelve months, so why has it been tampered with? Some
things are best left alone. Nikki and Fargus appear to have been
transported into a cartoon world, and who is that featureless little
broad bouncing around the set? It certainly isn't the gorgeous chick
on the cover, that's for sure. Look, I'm not a male chauvinistic pig
but the promise of adding a little bit of glamour to the proceedings
simply fails to materialize. Even my partner couldn't resist a wry
smile at this rigid blob. Hold on for a minute, I'm off for a stiff
whisky to calm down.
Right. I'm back.
After the initial disappointment I begin to accept the new
look of Pandemonium 2. I have to admit the set is certainly bright
and colorful although the opening section reminded me Actua Golf 2.
The collectable coins look as if they are made from real gold which
actually entices you to hang around until every single one is in
your grasp. Before too long your character will be sliding down the
rapids, abseiling from great heights and bouncing on the heads of
those pesky enemies.
The camera once again tracks the character and if anything, is
a little more extreme while the design of the levels are some of the
most psychedelic 3D environments ever consigned to silicon. If you
thought the levels in the first Pandemonium were surreal wait till
you get a load of these, they defy description!
Nikki and Fargus' foes appear in many guises. The purple 'doh,
doh, doh' beasts will bring the memories flooding back but this time
they are armed with deadly spears. As you progress the enemies begin
to take on a more mechanical guise. Tin robots, patrolling
spaceships and automated firing guard towers will all attempt to
block your path.
accompany these insane visuals Crystal Dynamics have plumped for a
'double-heavy drumscentric jungle-techno soundtrack' that mixes
medieval with industrial for some truly bizarre hard-core tracks.
The sound effects are splendid and seem much more defined and
crisp for this sequel.
popular double jump and Fargus living weapon, Sid, remain to the
forefront but both characters can now climb, grip on ledges, swim,
grapple, fly through the air and even pilot vehicles when the need
arises. This adds diversity to the 2D platform action of the
original and opens up the level design to a wealth of new gameplay
possibilities. You'll no longer be just jumping from platform to
platform. You'll be swinging, dangling, sliding and falling too.
This becomes apparent during the early stages of the first
level. When Nikki leaps she can grip onto a hanging ledge and then
haul herself up. This also removes one of the original games
frustrations where your character was constantly slipping off the
edge of a platform as now they will grab hold of the ledge and
simply climb back up again.
Further improvements are noticeable when they leap up in the
air and grab hold of suspended framework allowing them to move hand
over hand across hazards that dwell down below. Ropes can be climbed
to reach higher levels while grasping a washing line will catapult
your character high into the air collecting masses of gold coins on
your ascending flight.
The old 'two hearts' system that represented your health
status has now been replaced with a less frustrating method. A small
icon appears at the top of the screen and is divided into four
segments. Take any damage and you now lose only one quarter of a
life. This can be topped up again by collecting one of the ruby red
heart power ups that are spread across each level.
The characters also have new attacks to play with, such as
Nikki's lightening strike or Fargus' power-up which allows him to
expand enemies till they pop. The lightening strike is a strange one
to get to grips with as it may cause more damage to yourself than it
will to the enemy. It is not until you realize that some of the
creatures carry a shield which will rebound the power of your strike
straight back in your direction. Check out the enemy before you
unleash this weapon.
The bosses are as tough and varying as they were in last years
game. However, once you work out the system of their movements they
should pose little problem if your reactions are quick enough.
When you reach level eleven the gameplay receives an almighty
twist as a giant mechanical monster begins chasing your character
over a series of obstacles. On reaching a dead end you begin to
wonder how you could possibly escape this predicament. Then you
notice a vehicle is parked to one side. It's a tank. In you jump and
merrily blast the approaching monster to smithereens. You stay
inside the tank for the remainder of the level blasting the enemies,
avoiding moving obstacles and smashing through barriers that block
your path. Left and right directional buttons move the tank along,
R1 and R2 spin the gun turret while up and down raises your gun.
2 begins where the last game left off, so don't expect an easy ride.
There is virtually no learning curve and if you are new to the game
then expect to be thrown in at the deep end. To the regulars it will
offer a fair challenge.
my initial disappointment concerning the graphical changes it was
pleasing to see that there have been vast improvements to the
gameplay. You now feel that you have more control over the
characters and the new actions allow you to investigate the
surroundings without fear that the slightest mistake will return you
back to the start of the level. Pandemonium 2 should be every bit as
successful as its predecessor.