Panda Star


PsychotronicPanda StarThe difference between Panda Star and most other entries in the popular panda genre is that this bear can fly, not unlike a fish. Your objective is to launch an ambitious panda into the night sky and light up all the stars you find there, which have gone dark because they apparently lack panda juice. The relationship between panda bear and celestial body is symbiotic, you see. When you touch a star, it alights, in turn providing the panda with more energy to continue his chain of midnight happy panda joy.

It may sound like a puzzle game, and even play like one at first, but don't be fooled, panda lovers. This is an arcade-style game of skill that merely looks and sounds like a slow-paced mystical journey of spirit. The layout of stars on each level is random. When you fall to the ground, your game ends instantly, your panda bruised and discouraged, your progress lost, your score finalized.

The panda controls less like a monstrous cuddly bruin, and more like a Mini Cooper. Launch him off the ground with [space], and steer him with [left] and [right]. You'll quickly lose steam, but by touching stars you can recover your velocity. If you can't quite make it to the next star, press [space] again to use one of your Boosts. You only get three of these, though, and extras are hard to earn.

If you're itching for achievements, Panda Star's got 30 of 'em. Although they won't do you the courtesy of explaining afterward what you did to earn them, most of the names are self-explanatory.

Analysis: There are a lot of nice details that give Panda Star an extra spark, including the lingering swoop of the light trail behind you and the makeshift constellation that appears as you restore life to the skies. Not to mention the unusual choice of background music, a remix of Deep Forest's Sweet Lullaby. (If you want to mute the music, press [P] to enter the Pause Menu, then press [M] to mute.)

The best thing about Panda Star is the variety of skills to master, considering that this is basically just a game of Snake with a flying plushie. Because you are a magical panda, you can warp from the left side of the screen to the right and vice versa, which can often save you from using a boost.

Even more useful is how, even when you've run out of momentum and entered freefall, you can still hit a star on the way down and get catapulted right back into the game. In fact, this becomes your most valuable tactic as the sky fills with stars on the advanced levels. You'll never hit all of them in one go, so the trick is to get early altitude and drop on the stragglers from above. Since you can rotate while falling, you have more control at this time than any other, despite the inherent tension that comes with the act of plummeting.

Panda Star won't change the world. It's a small game with small aspirations, and it really could use an adventure mode or a puzzle mode where you can save your progress. But it made me happy one evening in a simple, panda way, and maybe it will do the same for you. Programming by Steve Colie (creator of Unique) and art by Mike Morin.

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24 Comments

Interesting. Funky concept, pretty simple. Sometimes it would place stars so high that I couldn't possibly reach them without boosts though :(

Having problems: I can get the game to load, but once the main page is up, for some reason I can't actually select play or any other option, for that matter. I can scroll around, I just can't click on anything.

Lots of achievements to unlock, and I'm wondering what purpose unlocking them serves. :\
All in all, a pretty cute, simple game.

NinjaRaven - what OS/Browser/Flash Player versions are you using?

So, does that make you.....a happy panda? XD

Bonus points for achievements, soundtrack and overall atmosphere.

However I think the game is unfair a little. First of all the level "intro" screen hides the initial stars so you must squint to see your initial "route". But what's worse you can't see where the stars are on the upper parts of the level so sometimes you often must go blindly and hope you are going in the right direction. This is especially noticeable in higher levels when there's a big chance you will have only one star visible - reaching the higher ones is often blind luck.

Still, it's too nice of a game this against it. Too much.

Any way to kill the music?

[Edit: Press [P] to pause the game, then hit [M] to mute. -Psychotronic]

Hey, I programmed this, thanks for the article!

Jay:

I'm playing in Firefox. is it not compatible - or is it my compy being weird?

O/S: mac OSX, at least Flash 9

Should be compatible.

I'm running Mac OS X (10.5.6), Flash Player 10 (10.0 r12), Firefox (3.0.6) and all is well.

Maybe try updating your Flash Player?

Does anyone know the name of the song/artist? I had a copy of this song about ten years ago, haven't heard it since! I forget the name, but I am aching to know...

[Edit: It's identified in the review. It's an old favorite of mine, too. :) -Jay]

I'll try updating Flash. thanks, Jay.

This is, by far, the most fun flash game I've played all year. If you could mute the music and sound effects separately, and you occasionally didn't run into situations where boosting is necessary to beat a level, it would be perfect. It's exceedingly easy to learn, but requires a lot of skill and strategy to get good at. The 1-life and high score board constantly motivates me to try just one more time. The graphics and sound are simple but lovely (and the increasing pitch of the "ting" of the stars scratches the Peggle itch in my brain). What a wonderful game!

GAH! Web developers: never, never, NEVER, NEVER resize the user's browser window!!! "Full-screen" for me is at least six-times the size of the game window, and is completely unnecessary and exceedingly annoying.

Who resized your browser window? That's not something we do here at JIG.

No, you didn't do it, Jay. The bunnygames site did when I opened it up.

Ah, ok, that makes sense then. Because that's the reason why we decided to host the game ourselves, so that wouldn't happen to you. ;)

This is the music that's used on the WherethehellisMatt dancing videos.

I just wonder how to unlock the Hit-the-deck achievement.

I'm stuck on the "stupid panda" achievement. Any help?

Even though I cant get past level 12, I still like this game! Its so cute, I love pandas!

Downey, re: the hit-the-deck achievement:

Hit the bottom of the screen with force.

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