Cavities: the biggest threat to dinosaurs since meteors
My first thought when firing up Pastry Panic was, “this reminds me of that bonus game from Tiny Toons: Buster Busts Loose for the SNES!” An odd comparison to make, I'll admit, but also a very apt one. Pastry Panic is a game that attempts to pluck at the heartstrings of those who gamed during the 8 and 16-bit era, a mission it pulls it off with gusto.
As is to be expected of something retro-influenced, the game boasts a very minimalistic control scheme. Touching on the left or right side of the screen moves the dino protagonist in the accompanying direction; swiping up or down moves him between conveyor belts. That's all there is to it, assuming you're playing in “Mad Dash” mode, where the object of the game is to run along the conveyor belts and gobble up as many pastries as you can. The controls here work fine a majority of the time, but there were a few occasions where I had trouble getting the game to register when I swiped up and down.
Alongside Mad Dash mode is “Tongue Tied” mode. Here, your dino proxy stands static in the center of the playing field, jutting his tongue out at the assortment of pastries and treats that move by. I actually found myself enjoying this mode the most, simply because not having to move enabled you to focus more on the location of pastries.
Although a conveyor belt serving up nothing but treats would be a dream-come-true, things aren't so convenient in Pastry Panic. Bolts slide by intermittently, and missing three results in a game over. It's a thematically nonsensical addition that only furthers Pastry Panic's successful hearkening back to a simpler – and, arguably, weirder – period in gaming.
The game's 16-bit graphics do a similarly great job of establishing Pastry Panic's retro ties. It's nothing we haven't seen before in an iOS game, but that doesn't lessen the appeal of seeing a 16-bit donut get gobbled up by a dinosaur. And you'd think the game's dismissal of realism would lessen the appeal of the food on display, but I've not once walked away from the game without craving some sort of baked good. It's a real problem.
I'm going to level with you: there was a solid ten minutes where I thought the main character was a whale that somehow mastered walking on land. But I mean, that would be crazy, right? Whales can't do that! No, the game's protagonist is actually a dinosaur, which actually makes way more sense if you don't think about it ever at all.
The in-game shop is home to a buffet of oddities, ranging from additional characters like a turtle with a headband to accessories like 3D glasses to wear. Everything can be purchased with currency earned from playing, but you can also buy it all for $0.99. The game is not exactly generous with the currency it awards you, meaning forking out the money for everything isn't necessarily the worst idea for those who find themselves hooked on the game.
Sans the minor hiccups I encountered with controls during the game's Mad Dash mode, I'm having a difficult time coming up with anything negative to say about Pastry Panic. It takes an enjoyable concept, slices it into two fun modes, and respects the player's competence by getting relentlessly difficult. It's a little simplistic, sure, but that's just as often a compliment as it is an insult in the world of mobile games.
Pastry Panic is as addictive as donuts, though thankfully far less fattening.
- Captures what made the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming so great. Simple, addictive gameplay. Charming graphics.
- Minor control issues. Game is somewhat stingy with it's in-game currency.