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Video Game / Pang

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The Pang series (known as Buster Bros. in the U.S.) is a series of games by Mitchell where the goal is to pop bouncing balloons by using harpoons on a screen while avoiding being hit by them. It's more addictive than it sounds.

The series produced four Arcade Games, all of which originally ran on various Capcom boards:

  • Pomping World/Pang/Buster Bros. (1989)
  • Super Pang/Super Buster Bros. (1990)
  • Pang! 3/Buster Buddies (1995)
  • Mighty! Pang (2000)

Ports of the first game were published for numerous computers by Ocean Software, and for the Game Boy and Turbo-Grafx CD by Hudson Soft (perhaps not coincidentally, Hudson had produced a rather similar game titled Cannon Ball in their early years). A NES version of the first game was cancelled, but the box art can be seen in this image (it's the same artwork used for the Game Boy port). The notorious Taiwanese bootleg game company Sachen published unlicensed ports of the first game for the Famicom and Supervision titled Super Pang. Capcom published a SNES port of the second game, and a PlayStation Compilation Rerelease of the first three games titled Super Pang Collection (released as Buster Bros. Collection in North America).

In 2010, Mitchell released Pang: Magical Michael exclusively for the Nintendo DS. In 2016, Pang Adventures was published on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The Pang series contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • Super Pang puts Tower Bridge somewhere in Lancashire.
    • In the same game the Alcázar de Segovia appears without the city of Segovia unlike Real Life.
  • Asteroids Monster: Popping a balloon creates two smaller balloons, with the largest ones dividing four times.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: In Pang! 3, the four main characters are these; Don Tacos is balance with his mundane but handy double harpoons, Captain Hog is power with his longer-lasting power wire, Shiela the Thief is skill with her slightly-tricky-to-use V-shaped harpoons, and Pink Leopard is gimmick as he has no special weapon, but resistance to dynamite, ice, and enemies.
  • Bandito: Don Tacos is an obvious one with his fancy sombrero and bandolier. Also fitting that he's a thief as well!
  • Bullet Time: If you collect an hourglass powerup, the balloons will gradually slow down and then go back to normal speed.
  • Cartoon Bomb: In 3 and onward. They will explode and destroy any other bubbles (or other bombs) in their blast radius, and then make two other blast radii to the lower-left and lower-right which do the same.
  • Collision Damage: Touching any balloon will kill you (or break your shield). The game will even briefly pause and show you where you got hit before your character goes flying around the screen.
  • Combo: Popping balloons of the same size in succession will multiply the points they give you by 2x, 4x, then 8x from the fourth onward.
  • Digitized Sprites: Pang! 3 has its characters rendered this way.
  • Edible Collectible: Collecting food items like corn, apples, coffee, donuts, and pineapples nets you some points (though points do lead to extra lives), except for in the SNES version of Super Buster Bros., where you can earn a continue for every ten you collect without losing any continues. The food in the final stage of the arcade version of Super Pang/Super Buster Bros. is a piece of egg sushi worth a 1-Up instead of points (if not shot with a harpoon to collect).
  • Endless Game: Depending on the game, Panic Mode will either end upon reaching level 99 and clearing the screen or go on forever.
  • Every 10,000 Points: You'll get extra lives at various point milestones.
  • Excuse Plot: The balloons are apparently trying to take over the world.
    • In Pang! 3, you're a group of thieves stealing famous paintings.
  • Frictionless Ice: Completely averted with Pink Leopard in Pang! 3, who has the power to walk on ice as if it were normal ground. Otherwise ice is low-friction.
  • Golden Snitch: The golden star balloon will pop all other balloons on screen, effectively clearing the screen in Panic modes, or clearing a stage in Tour mode. It awards bonus points if you save it for last.
  • Harpoon Gun: Your basic weapon, shooting one harpoon at a time. A balloon will pop if it hits the harpoon or rope. The Power Wire (standard weapon for Captain Hog, available power-up for all other characters) will stick to any non-breakable block for a few seconds.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: Trying to take over the world and being able to kill you in one hit is pretty destructive. Not to mention even the tiniest of them killing a player in one hit unless shielded.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mighty! Pang is much more Japanese-style "cute" than the other games in the series.
    • 3 to a lesser extent as well.
  • Mercy Invincibility: A few seconds' worth after losing a shield. Can be put to very good use by Button Mashing after a dynamite was collected.
  • One Harpoon At A Time: By default only one harpoon is allowed on the screen until it hits a balloon or reaches the top of the screen and disappears. With the double harpoon powerup, you can have two on screen at a time.
    • Three of the four playable characters in Pang! 3 can shoot two harpoons from the outset.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Unless you have a shield — in which case you're a two-hit-point wonder.
  • 1-Up: There are 1-ups in the form of items, usually in destructible blocks. Some levels are also "1-up prone", meaning that bubbles have a chance of dropping them when popped. Also see Every Ten Thousand Points above. The games are still plenty difficult.
  • Poison Mushroom: Dynamite. It will split every balloon up until they're reduced to their smallest size. Often results in death. Better hope they drop some shields or clocks while they split... (However, Pink Leopard in Pang! 3 can pick up dynamite with no adverse effects.) Nice points if you somehow don't die, though.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The machine gun and grapple powerups in the first game. Just the grapple powerup in the second game. Also, the Dynamite.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Powerups, food, coins, and 1-ups can be found in destructible blocks.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: In the original Pang, scene 16 (stages 46-48) is "Antartica" instead of Antarctica.
  • Schmuck Bait: If a machine-gun power-up drops, it often means that the level has one or more invisible destructible blocks, which (like the visible ones) cannot be destroyed with the machine gun.
    • Holding the joystick downward in Panic Mode makes bubbles spawn more quickly. However, in Super Pang, if done for too long, the speed of the bubbles will suddenly greatly accelerate to the point where it is practically a Kill Screen. The speed will reset on the player's next life though.
  • Selective Gravity: The hexagonal balloons in Super Pang ignore gravity, flying in a straight diagonal line and will bounce in the opposite direction if they hit a wall.
    • Mighty! Pang has balloons that have inverted gravity. Watch out when they're at the "peak" of their bounce.
  • Sequel Escalation: The machine gun was really wimpy in the first game, firing only two shots immediately above you and it had a crappy fire rate. This increased to four shots in a wider range and with a better fire rate in Super Pang. By Pang! 3 and Mighty! Pang, it is taken up to eleven: it will vaporize the largest balloons so fast that the sound effects can't keep up. The only disadvantage to using the machine gun is that it can't break destructible blocks (see Rewarding Vandalism above).
    • The grapple powerup got progressively better too; in the original, it took several button presses to cancel and launch another one if you launched one in a bad place. In Super Pang it's still pretty scrappy but takes fewer shots to cancel. Pang! 3 made it great: launching one will immediately cancel the one already on screen, and it extends faster than normal harpoons as well. Captain Hog's double grapple harpoons are almost a Game-Breaker.
  • Single-Use Shield
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: In Super Pang and onward, starts from 20 units of time left. The first game has two of these: one starting from 50 units of time and another from 20.
    • Panic Mode in Super Pang features the "Warning" variety, with the music speeding up and adding more instruments when the screen gets particularly crowded.
    • Panic Mode in Pang! 3 features both the "Warning" and "Nearing-the-End" varieties. The music speeds up one notch and goes up two semitones whenever a certain number of balloons are on the screen, or two notches and five semitones as soon as you reach the last level in each set of 10.
  • Spell My Name With An S: In the North American and European releases of Pang! 3/Buster Buddies via Super Pang Collection/Buster Bros. Collection, Don Tacos' and Pink Leopard's names are changed to Don Pacos and Pink Leopold, respectively. While the former is more understandable, Pink Leopard's name change doesn't make much sense.
  • Story Branching: Mighty! Pang has a choice of paths after the first continent.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Pink Leopard.
  • Timed Mission: Every level in Tour mode.
  • Time Stands Still: If you collect a clock powerup or hit a flashing balloon in Panic Mode, all of the balloons (and in all but the first game, your remaining time) will freeze for a few seconds. You also won't die if you're in contact with one while they're frozen.
  • Villain Protagonist: Pang! 3 has you play as one of four thieves aiming to steal art for their personal gallery.
  • World Tour: All of the arcade games except 3 feature the player travelling to real-world locations starting from east Asia and travelling westward, ending up in the Americas.

Alternative Title(s): Buster Bros