Another weird subject that makes absolutely no sense.

Panzer Bandit

When the meter at the top-right fills, you can use your robot buddy to obliterate half the screen.
When the meter at the top-right fills, you can use your robot buddy to obliterate half the screen.
(And it all begins with a Japanese beat-em-up that means nothing.) I don't speak Japanese or German, but I do know enough of both to know that this title makes no sense in either language. Panzer is a tank, German word for armor, and the first word in an awesome video game series; bandit, on the other hand, is German for...bandit. So I guess it means, "Armor Thief" or "Tank Bandit," both of which mean absolutely nothing, especially when you discover that there are no tanks, armor, or thievery in this game.

Then again, as I said in the second sentence, I don't speak Japanese, so I had no idea what was going on. It didn't help that the very 90s anime intro featured robotic sky whales blowing up villages. But this did not stop me from playing the game or finding out how to play it. After all, I've played RPGs in Japanese, so a beat-em-up shouldn't be any problem for me. In fact, even if you aren't me, it shouldn't be a problem for you, because this game is actually very easy to figure out. Like Guardian Heroes and Fatal Fury (mostly like Fatal Fury, judging by the screenshots), you have two planes to switch between in lieu of full 3D navigation. But unlike those two games, I don't feel Panzer Bandit made the most of its features. Very rarely did I find myself switching planes, and when I did, it was usually because there was health or something on the other side. It was never to avoid enemies or set up cool attacks, it was always to break some random box.

Moving on, you also get to choose between a few characters, each with the their own easy to build up combos. When I say "easy to build up", I really mean "easy to build up." Often times, I found myself building up 10-20 hit combos on large groups of enemies. Naturally, this means that the game is really fun to play. Again, it's very easy to control and incredibly fun to just beat the hell out of enemies. On the surface, there aren't any major flaws. But keep in mind that this is a beat-em-up, and as such, it falls prey to the various flaws of the genre. One of the most obvious examples is the paltry enemy selection. No matter where you're fighting (random cave, port town, space), you'll always face the same enemy: a robot. Every enemy that suffers at your hand will be robotic.

Even the bosses/mini-bosses suffer from this. Again, most of them are either robots or people in robots. The only major exception is the final boss, who is just you with a different color scheme. So obviously, combat is going to be repetitive, the extent to which depending on how much you like beat em ups. I enjoyed the combat, but I will admit my main strategies were "hadouken a crowd of robots" and "use that electric sword move." I had other strategies (mostly for bosses), but since you face the same enemy 300 times throughout the game, I didn't find much reason to change. Throw in a length of about a day, and you have a really good game that'd be worth a rental if there was some place where you could rent imports. However, such a place does not exist, and even if it did, how the hell would you play this? You'd probably have to buy a Japanese PS1 and several tools to get it working on your American TV. Sorry, I got distracted. The point of these four paragraphs is that Panzer Bandit is a decent beat em up with a very weird title. I only see it fitting that it deserves a weird award. This thought in mind, I bestow upon Panzer Bandit the Italian Turd Award. Now if you'll excuse me, I must prepare myself for the horribleness of the next game. While you post, please prepare for the horribleness of this particular part of the blog.

Review Synopsis

  • The title has no meaning in any language at all.
  • Very easy to control and fun to play.
  • It doesn't really use the dual-plane thing that much.

Since the theme of this blog is "crap that makes no sense," I thought I'd add a video about a very nonsensical game.

Big Bumpin'

(I think we can all name things that simply don't work with video games.) But for whatever reason, people make games out of them. Sex is obviously one of them, but other than that, I can't name any ideas that don't work as games. Fortunately, though, the people at Burger King released Big Bumpin' to serve as an example of that. This game was actually part of a three game campaign a few years ago, and I really wish it was Sneak King. Why? Well, then I could relate it to my own stealth thing featuring the King: Metal Gear ELF.

However, I got stuck with Big Bumpin', so I just have to accept it and move on. Fortunately, though, regular bumper cars is not the only mode. You also have hot potato, hockey, keep away, and some weird variant of basketball on a half court (that's seriously the closest thing that comes to mind). I have nothing against any of this; in fact, it's probably one of the few things that kept this game from making my top 10 worst games ever. Keep in mind that what I just said means almost nothing else about the game is good; most of what makes up this game is crap.

It all begins where it always begins with really bad games: the controls. You use the left analog stick to move, and the A button to charge, making this game simple enough to be mapped to an Atari controller. How do you fuck this up? Well, Burger King found a way: a third dimension. I realize that it sounds weird, but it means you can't just turn wherever you want. No, you have to arc your turns, which feels somewhat awkward. Try to turn naturally, and things will get...weird. It's hard to explain, and the best way I can explain it is that your controls spin around a bit and you have to get re-oriented to the controls.

Another major flaw is the AI. I know this is a multiplayer game and it shouldn't come up in a review of it, but I played Big Bumpin's single player mode, so I'll complain anyway. Like several multiplayer games I can think of, the AI in this game cheats. But unlike some of those other games, more often than not, the computer/random number generator seems to be in on the joke. For example, in that basketball thing (I'll refer to it through this from now on), the goal is to stand on a square, retrieve a score bar, and return it to a certain point only to repeat it until you can't. There are multiple squares, and the computer will always be waiting on the right square. If you try that, you'll end up being on the EXACTLY wrong one, while the computers are on the far end of the screen scoring points.

There are other examples I could name, like all the AIs teaming up against you or one computer getting the right power-up at the exact time it needs it, but I feel I've made my point. Besides, I need to move onto the other flaws of the game, like the crap power-ups. Again, it feels like this was added to flesh out the original bumper car concept, and again, it needs some serious work. The power-ups can be classified into two categories: no apparent use (mostly what you get) and "you have just won the game" (mainly given to AI players). I'm not even exaggerating for a joke; there are truly some power-ups I never figured out the use for, and others that were absolute game destroyers. I'm aware that there are many multiplayer games that do this, but they still have some sort of middle ground of items/weapons/power-ups/whatever that are properly balanced.

Normally, I reserve the end of the review for positives that redeem the crappy nature of a bad game, but there aren't that many positives to the game I can think of. The most obvious thing would be the multiplayer value, but the strip club DJ of an announcer and the improperly balanced power-ups ensure that any suffering this game creates harms as many people as possible. Price would also be a possible benefit, given that it was originally five dollars (not counting the fact that I played for free), but I've had more fun with a free Sonic the Hedgehog Game & Watch thing I got from McDonald's. (I guess that settles it: Burger King may have better fries and menu selection, but McDonald's wins with the games.) So are there any good things I can say about this game? Hold on, I'll check my notes. *analyzes notes* "Is not Cyborg Justice." Fair enough. I guess that means it deserves an award. How about the Campy Batman Villain Award for Horrible, Horrible Puns?

Review Synopsis

  • The controls are simple, yet somehow manage to screw up badly.
  • The AI cheats constantly.
  • Overall, a very unbalanced game.