Postal Panic


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JoshPostal PanicIf you've been itching for a new, fun side-scrolling shooter, Postal Panic is a game you don't want to pass up. Developed by independent designer Isaac Williams, Postal Panic takes the side-scrolling action of an arcade shooter and throws in some upgrading, a wacky storyline and an even wackier set of enemies. Instead of the typical outer space setting, you play the role of a postal worker (in some crazy alternate dimension) who pilots a fully-armed, mail delivery ship. Your goal? Deliver mail to citizens despite rain, sleet, snow...and in this case, an onslaught of mutated, Cthulhu-looking (yet somewhat cute) monsters gunning to burn you out of the sky.

The plot in Postal Panic is a bit thin: deliver some love letters back and forth here, serve as a communique for a mad scientist there...all that typical jive. Controls aren't groundbreaking either, although in this case, that's a good thing. Use [arrow] keys or [WASD] to move and [space] to shoot. Where the controls do get a bit interesting is when it comes to aiming your cannon, which is controlled by the same keys as movement, although the cannon is locked in place when you're firing. At first, it can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, this mechanic proves useful and unique. Most side-scrollers limit your firing trajectory directly in front of your enemy, and once that enemy passes above or below you, it's out of your reach. In Postal Panic, you can pivot your cannon a full 360 degrees, aiming at enemies above and below you, and even behind.

Game play is pretty straight-forward: advance from stage to stage (delivering letter after letter) with a slew of enemies between you and the finish line. Once killed, enemies drop coins or gems that you can pick up to add to your score. At the end of each level, you can access a "blueprints" menu and use your winnings to upgrade your ship. Spend points on your engine to move faster, buy better armor to increase your resistance to attacks and pick from a buffet of weapons. As you advance through the game, you have a total of eight different "slots" that you unlock each time you buy a new weapon. (Each slot also represents a firing angle from your ship.) You can place different weapons in different slots for a variety of strategies, such as rapid-fire bullets shooting in a narrow cone, with missiles firing in a wider-angled cone.

Analysis: Once you get past the minor learning curve and slow start of the first few levels as you build up some cash, Postal Panic starts getting really addictive, mostly because of the upgrades. It's fun to see what weapon combos are just around the corner. The graphics are more than sufficient for this type of game and the wacky-looking enemies, environments and storyline provide a nice vacation from the norm. Difficulty progression is tuned perfectly and you'd be hard-pressed to find any bugs, controls or otherwise. If anything, the game ends too quickly (one hour or so), sometimes before you'll be able to unlock that last weapon. Sadly, a difficulty setting is missing but there is a survival mode if you get bored with the story mode. Overall, this little game packs a big punch, especially considering it's designed by an indie developer.

Play Postal Panic

20 Comments

Looks like a cool game. Playing now.

i beat it! heres how to beat the bosses easy

find a spot where you are not being hit, then make it so atleast one of your types of shots are damaging the boss and just keep firing until the boss is defeated

seriosely fun especialy if you get all of the gun powerups.

Great game! Two things could be improved:
1) The bosses are easier than the rest of the game - find their firing shadow and you win.
2) The controls got confused every once in a while when I was trying to evade incoming fire and they didn't respond to anything.

-blarg

The graphics style is very unique, refreshing and the backgrounds look very 3d-ish. Good job here. :)

That was enjoyable, but the bosses were quite easy, as Linda pointed out. I was about 30 points away from having enough for the final gun upgrade, and I probably would have had enough had I not spent money on engine and armor upgrades along the way.

Maybe it's just me, but I found it easier to lock the firing to fire straight ahead at the beginning of the level and never used the ability to aim in a different direction. And yes, the bosses are silly because of the bullet-free zones.

I really, really like the custom gun system. The gameplay itself is pretty standard fare, though the art is quite nice.

Like juv3nal, I very rarely found myself using any direction but forward. Once in a while I shot straight up or down to get a baddie I'd missed, but otherwise the shot system only served to mess me up when I accidentally let go of the space bar for a second and found myself shooting at the floor instead of the enemies.

Why do you sometimes get a health crate after the mailbox?

very addicting game. too bad it was so short!!

This game makes a number of mistakes:

Using the space bar for fire. Most game developers long ago realized that you cannot press Up, Left, and Space at the same time, which severely hampers maneuvering options. This one did not.

No option to reassign controls. Not only would this avoid the issue above, it's also just a basic option for any game to let every player interact with it in the manner they are most comfortable with.

Busy work and repetition to create content. Far too much time is spent simply putzing around, fighting the same enemies to get to the same location you've been twice before. On that same note, there are far too few enemy types, and until the enemy ships show up they're all very boring.

A few complaints:

1) I wish we could keep playing, at least a little bit, after the game is over and we have all our upgrades. I didn't get to try out new combinations of bullets or anything.

2) You can just find a safe spot with the bosses and fire from that vantage point in complete safety. This makes the bosses way easier than even the regular enemies though.

But it was really fun while it lasted, and I really loved upgrading the gun and raining down destruction on all of the enemies.

This game is surprisingly addictive considering it has very little to it... there are very few enemies, very few different tactics required and the bosses are a joke.
However the reviewer is spot on for talking about the gun system, which if you can grasp can be used effectively to kill everything that comes at you, thus easily making enough money for all the upgrades.
The fact it just stops at the end is very disappointing... also some other backgrounds would have been nice! It felt like playing the same level over and over...

It was fun- I would like to see more though, it's really short. Also, I'd like to see the gems be good for something, what are they for, score? Don't care, it's kind of disappointing to pick up these nifty jewels & it doesn't do any good for the gameplay. I'd like to see it worth "gold" in the "shop". It is a trifle tedious but actually playing it is fun.

The gems are worth gold. The large green are 20 and the red are 25, I believe.

Really enjoyed this game. The ability to choose which weapons fire at which angles receives a squeal of agreement from me. My only nitpick, actually, is why as a super mailman can I not deliver two letters for one recipient in the same trip?

I'm finding the controls a little hard to get used to (but am getting there) however the artwork, the design and colours and the little touches for instance the letters falling out are superb. Equally I actually find the story and the set up quite endearing and better than average helped by the great illustration.

Keep it up!

This must me the easiest and slowest shooter, like, ever.

It seems the designer went all out on backstory graphics, upgrades mechanic, moving turret, initial enemy design and whatnot and when it came to the actual game he just grew tired of it. Every level is basically the same, challenge is nill, you can just aim your gun straight and move up and down ad nauseam. You can artificially increase the gameplay experience by trying to kill every enemy on the stage, but since the payoff is minimal there's not much point.

With a few tweaks, like more enemies and tougher stages (with obstacles, tunnels and like) this would be quite an enjoyable game. As is, there's really not that much to it.

That was fun. Same quibbles as the rest, plus

some of those healing bonuses were at the end of levels

when I didn't need them. Maybe it was a bug, but some of the dialog seemed to be missing in the later levels re:

the McGuffin storyline

.

Otherwise a satisfying shooter if you just have a little time. I would've liked more time to keep my upgrades and then maybe switch to survival mode.

A few more complaints (I'm in a complainy move today)

1) As one post above says, up+left+space blocks on most keyboards, yet the game practically forces you to keep space pressed all the time. Btw, rotating the turret with your mouse would be far more enjoyable and user-friendly.

2) Collision detection is wacky. Sometimes you are nowhere near the object yet the game interprets it as "crash".

3) Why create so many same levels? In an hour of gameplay about 50 minutes you spend basically playing the same level over and over and over again. Last 20 minutes I just wanted to finish the thing yet it always came up with "one more mission". I was SO sure that after three "mining" missions the final boss is up, yet out of the blue some lady shows up and wants me to deliver three books, delaying the boss fight for ten more levels. I mean, come on...

4) The blur effect is nice, but it also drops the framerate to one-digit levels.

5) You know something is off when the bosses are ten times easiest then one of the regular enemies... I actually beat the final boss while reading the newspaper, checking occasionally to see if it's dead yet.

6) Robo-enemies tier 3 (missiles+bullets) are poorly designed. They produce an unavoidable curtain of bullets which mostly kill you because you get "squished" between the bullets and the edge of the scrolling screen. Basically, instead of making me "avoid" the bullets, I am forced to (again) find the shadow spot and pray the enemy will die in time before the scrolling kills me. This wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that those enemies constitute the only challenging part in the entire game, and the best way to pass this "challenge" is to avoid it completely (i.e. get stuck in the upper right corner and keep space pressed.)

7) When you kill the boss the game takes control of your ship and moves it forward. If there are still bullets on the screen, they can damage and kill your ship while you can do absolutely nothing about it. Good fun indeed.

All in all, I don0t find this a particularly good entry. A few tasty ingredients still don't guarantee a tasty cake, and this cake in particular is a bit hard to chew. Still, the designer is obviously talented - I hope his future work will get better playtested and tweaked.

@Maktaka

You can steer with W,A,S and D too!

I used the arrow keys at the beginning, untill i accidently pressed D, and I noticed that the ship moved xD

Probably been said already, but it's a great game with a few issues: controls occasionally become unresponsive, bosses have easy to find blind spots (but I find the low difficulty a nice change of pace lol) and

the ending is anti climatic. Dialogue happens and main menu appears, not even the music changes.

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