In Panda Punch, you play as Zeep a young red panda who, after being attacked by a swarm of robots, decides to fight back with a new mechanised arm.
The premise of Panda Punch is simple, play as a pixelated red panda in this throwback to old-fashioned platformers akin to Sonic. That is if Sonic were much, much slower. Also if Sonic were devoid of character and charm. Zeep simply chats with his dad/trader about what kind of abilities he will upgrade when he acquires enough points and coins and that’s it.
You go through four semi-distinct areas to try and conquer the alien forces and their robot army. To get through each area you have to unlock a switch by putting a block on top of it. It starts off simple enough but as you travel between each level the blocks are harder to find and the hazards in the way become more numerous.
Punching above your weight
Panda Punch unfortunately is mired in the past with nothing particularly noteworthy within it. For example, the score of the game is exceedingly generic. To compound this generic score the enemies are equally boring. They are a combination of bugs and machines and they feel like cheap knockoffs of the enemies from Sonic the Hedgehog. Also, the bosses are nothing burgers. The first boss was called flyer and my strategy came down to me punching him into submission. There was no strategy and he didn’t seem to have any kind of phase shifts to make him more challenging.
Now when you beat a boss you get new abilities but they’re not engaging. While games like Mega Man would have you gain the skills of your vanquished foes and they’d give you noticeable visual redesigns and upgrades Panda Punch has the most rudimentary of additional abilities. The first ability allows Zeep to pick up blocks on top of his normal ability to punch them. Now they get more extravagant as the game goes on, but it is too little too late in my opinion.
If I had any positives for Panda Punch it would be that it is a charming-looking game and if more effort had been put into every other element of the game it could have been something.