A well-written musical mixed with some straight-up WarioWare mechanics? Alright, I’m in.
I rarely check the front page on the app store because I get tired of seeing either a dozen new Angry Birds / Flappy Bird / Happy Bird or whatever people are cloning anymore flooding the screen. I usually leave that job for the heroes at TouchArcade while I wait for them to weed out the chaff. But this time I made a risky click. I downloaded a game from the App Store, sight unseen.
It paid off for once.
Peter Panic is, well, exactly what the first sentence of this article says. Nothing more and nothing less. You probably know if it’s for you already, but here’s the gist. You’re a kid who wants to convince townsfolk to star in his new community theater production. You’ll go to lots of places around town, meet some very self-aware characters who like to sing, all while playing a lot of WarioWare. Fast-paced minigames play out in between pieces of a Broadway-style production. Sound good?
I had no idea the game was even going to have voice acting at first, so I was super surprised when the first guy started belting out a song. Nothing in the game feels half-assed, like I would have expected from Random App Store Game #14378493. Peter Panic’s lyrics game is on-point, as are all of the performances. This game features some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a game in recent memory, and several chuckle-inducing moments that took me by surprise. There are even a few game-dev cameos for those of you who keep up with “Game Twitter Celebs.” The plot starts taking turns towards a darker mystery about the town, culminating in a reveal that sets an interesting plot (hint, Satan = bad) in motion by the end of Act 1.
I played through the main story in probably an hour or so, and was a little disappointed when the credits rolled so soon. It’s clear that updates are on their way, but if I could have blown through the whole game at once I would have. A huge “ACT 2” marker is placed right after the last mission, and I was reeeaaaalllly ready to jump into it as I wrapped up the last stage. There’s plenty to go back to, though. New lines of songs and hidden arcade minigames can be unlocked by completing older stages, and there’s a slot machine to try your luck at for new character customization options.
Starting off the game is free, but if you plan on staying with Peter Panic for the long-haul, you’re asked to pay $3 for the ability to save. You can play as much as you want, but if you want to keep going after closing out, you’re gonna lose everything if you’ve yet to pay up. The developer even shows up in the game multiple times to make sure you’re ready to pay the toll.
One message would have been fine as a reminder to pay, but a second, more condescending message hit me right before I shelled out the cash. It wasn’t a huge bummer, but imagine if a friend kept bugging you for $3, even as you were LITERALLY reaching into your pocket to hand it to them. It felt a tad bit gross, but the game is so good it’s easy to forgive them.
It doesn’t seem like an easy project to have put together; there’s a lot more work done here than I’m used to seeing in a “free” iPhone game. And I’m probably going to be patiently waiting for Act 2 for several months. But man oh man am I ready to jump back in.
If you’re up for good music in a frantic microgame collection, try out Peter Panic for free here.