I’m no skateboarder. I don’t know the difference between a fakie and a goofyfoot, a cave and a grind, or an ollie and a nollie. If I ever tied using one of those “wheel boards” I would certainly land myself in the local ER and end up on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Even so, I had an entertaining and pain-free experience skating my way from one delivery to the next in Pizza Panic.
A great diversion for children (and kids at heart), Arcade Lab’s Pizza Panic offers 62 levels of side-scrolling, pizza-delivering fun. Become a delivery boy for Mr. Ravioli yourself and you’ll be skateboarding around Crustville delivering yummy pizzas to the city’s residents in no time.
Play and game mechanics are pretty straightforward. Your main goal is to complete each side-scrolling stage with as many coins as possible. At least three are needed for each pizza delivered to make Mr. Ravioli happy. That’s no problem initially as customers will include a tip, netting you five coins per pizza. Hanging onto them, however, is not as easy. Obstacles in the form of birds, cats, dogs, tires, jackhammers, bees, steam vents, umbrellas, grabbing hands and more will snatch a coin if you collide with them.
What’s a poor delivery boy to do? Well, most of the game’s baddies can be “stomped” Mario style, giving extra points in the process. But, a few, crabs and hedgehogs for instance, need to be avoided. They simply can’t be stomped and will cost you a coin for each try.
Once you’ve averted each stage’s obstacles and delivered your pizzas, it’s time to head for the exit and return to Mr. Ravioli’s pizza shop to receive your reward. The best rank possible in Pizza Panic is four yellow stars. One each is awarded for completing a stage, returning with all your coins, collecting every pickup (bonus items like packs of gum, vegetables and playing cards) and finding a “hidden” red hot chili pepper. Not happy with your performance? No problem. You can replay any stage you’ve already finished and try to improve your score.
The Town Map, visited between stages, offers a top-down vantage point on Crustville from which to choose your next challenge. Normal stages are colored red, while race stages appear green. Moreover, those already completed exhibit a star ranking, unfinished stages display a question mark and locked stages appear grayed-out until unlocked. Mr. Ravioli’s pizzeria is also visible, so be sure you make a quick stop there for some useful hints.
Also evident on the map are presents, obstructions and animal cages, “extras” to be opened or unlocked by completing a specific task. Simply hold your mouse cursor over an object to display its requirements.
In keeping with the game’s theme, normal stages are identified with names such as Pepperoni Avenue, Calzone Station and Mamma Mia Drive. Race stages, where the goal is to collect as many pickups as possible, bear monikers like Anchovies Race, Gorgonzola Race and the like. All you can do in these side-scrolling events as you speed along is jump, hoping to rake in an enormous stash of pickups.
To control your pizza-delivering persona, you use a mouse or keyboard (or a joystick, if preferred). For mouse play, slide the rodent to the left or right to move your character, and press the left mouse button to jump and the right to duck. If you’d rather employ a keyboard (it offers better control than a mouse), arrow keys handle movement. Pressing the “Esc” or “Space” key opens a menu to pause the game, restart the current stage or exit to the main menu. Profiles allow up to six players to keep track of their progress and score, displaying stars and coins collected.
While undemanding by today’s standards, Pizza Panic is a fun diversion with great kid-appeal. It’s refreshingly simple and easy to play, sports quirky, cartoon-like graphics and catchy tunes, and is completely free of timed elements so you can enjoy it at your own pace. The only potholes along the way are the lack of an alternate game mode (like a two-player race option or a who-can-deliver-the-most-pizzas-in-a-minute mode) and play that, in an effort to remain child-friendly, can get a bit repetitive.
If you’ve got kids, Pizza Panic is a must-buy. They’ll love it. Chances are you will, too. Fortunately, from a safety standpoint, it’s probably the closest most of us “big kids” will ever get to actual skateboarding.