Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Parachute Panic HD

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            The Window Phone 7’s Xbox LIVE enabled catalogue is becoming a home to more-and-more casual gaming timesinks, from puzzle games to brain training titles, revisions of arcade classics from yesteryear to more modern, original ideas. Parachute Panic HD is one of the lattermost titles, casual enough to be picked-up by anyone but addictive enough to swallow hours-on-end thanks an inspired series of design decisions. All this for only £2.49? No wonder Parachute Panic HD has been an ever-present title on the Top Paid Apps chart on the Zune Marketplace since its release.

            The premise of Parachute Panic HD is fairly simple: planes fly overhead while boats travel across the sea below, and the player has to guide falling parachutists from the former to the latter. The entire game is controlled via tap and stroke controls on the touchscreen: tap the parachutist to open his parachute, stroke to create a gust of wind to guide him in the right direction. Repeatedly tap a Electronic Theatre Imagehelicopter to eliminate it before it’s makes messy contact with one (or more) of your parachutists, swipe to keep them in the air in the hop of catching a falling fish for a bonus point. Parachute Panic HD’s controls are as intuitive as they possibly can be, which only adds to the absorbing pick-up-and-play nature of the game.

            Along with those mentioned above, there are a number of other obstacles the player will have to be aware of as they guide their parachutists to safety. Denoted by an instantly recognisable aural clue, storm clouds and UFOs will enter from the sides of the screen, while storks carrying babies will offer an extra life when caught. The eccentric nature of Parachute Panic HD’s bonuses and enemies is perfectly mirrored by its direction, which is nothing short of stunning.

            With a backdrop styled as graph paper, every element of Parachute Panic HD is presented as a constantly animated pencil-drawn sketch. From the stickman parachutists to the badly coloured-in water, Parachute Panic HD is utterly loveable in its visual presentation, and things only get better with the soundtrack. An acoustic intro theme and an a cappella closing theme are undeniably charming, and if ever a videogame score was deserved of release as downloadable MP3s, these two tracks would be first in line.

            Simple yet addictive, easy to play and yet difficult to master, Parachute Panic HD is exactly what mobile gaming is all about. It’s the kind of game that anyone who’s able to use the touchscreen can play, and yet not learning so far towards the casual bend that it would distance the core gaming audience. Developers FDG Entertainment are building a strong reputation for addictive bite-sized videogames, and going on the evidence presented in Parachute Panic HD, it’s a reputation that’s most certainly been rightfully earned.

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