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Preview: Rocket Panda

The past decade has seen a wonderful Genesis renaissance, with many of the new games announced actually seeing release. That’s a perk that owners of Sega’s most successful console have enjoyed more than many gamers, with relatively few titles finally making their way to our eager hands. Now, it appears that Space Pants Games is about to bestow another addition to our game libraries with Rocket Panda.

The name tells you all you need to know. Yes, you’ll play as a panda with a rocket, and it’s as fun as it sounds. Rocket Panda is an action/puzzle game that plays much like Sega’s Flicky. The main villain, Biscuit Head, has invaded Panda’s home planet of Biscuit Land and kidnapped all of Panda’s badger friends. Through seven game worlds, our hero fights flying pigs, toasters, and even UFOs to rescue them. Using his signature rocket pack, Panda must zip around the game to collect all the badgers and guide them to the exit. Along the way, he can collect biscuits (doughnuts for us non-Brits) for points, keys to open doors, and drink tea to power a dash move.

That dash is key to success. With it, Panda can power his way through obstacles. He can only hold around four at one time, so it’s important to use them wisely. Collecting the badgers isn’t just about clearing the level, either. The little fellas can act as limited shields, protecting their savior from deadly hits. Each hit knocks the badger away though, forcing Panda to go and find them again. Still, it’s better than dying.

Control is quite simple, using only two buttons and the D-pad. Button A is reserved for the dash move, while button B activates the rocket that keeps Panda airborne. Unless you keep pressing it, Panda will slowly sink to the ground. This constant pressing makes movement tricky, particularly when there are spikes or other obstacles strewn around the stage.

Space Pants Games promises over 60 stages spread across seven diverse worlds of various obstacles and enemies to overcome, each with its individual boss battle. The worlds are colorful and cute as a button, with names like Ice Cream Archipelago and the Chocolate Mountains. The whole game gives me a James Pond vibe visually, so I’m especially looking forward to playing it. My copy has already been pledged!

Rocket Panda is set to be published by Mega Cat Studios, the minds behind Tanzer and Arkagis Revolution. As of this writing, the game has completed its Kickstarter successfully and is slated for release later this year. Sega-16 is looking forward to seeing the final release, but there’s already a demo available now that works in most emulators and flash carts. Give it a try and stay tuned for updates from Space Pants Games and Mega Cat Studios about its progress.

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