Panic Porcupine is the first for me. I have played various VR games and racing games that have you traveling at near supersonic speeds. More than that, I've been inside rally cars and squeezed hard enough to make coal when I thought I was going over the edge of a mountain, I've been on extremely fast roller coasters, and I've driven more than enough. 4+ hour tours alone. I have never felt motion sickness or even a little dizzy before Panic Porcupine and its islands and poles. Or, more accurately, the camera.
Let's get the low-hanging fruit out of the way right at the start. Yes, this will be Sonic. It will be Sonic so hard; there's even a fan-art image of Sonic at the beginning of the game, an image I wouldn't be surprised to find on someone's illegal site for all things furry. The changes are also thin; instead of collecting rings, you collect eggs because, you know, Eggman. Aesthetically, it might as well be one of the original Sonic games. Not that that's a bad thing; it looks good for what it's trying to do.
I also have to say that the animations are excellently done across the board, everything from panic to buzzsaws, chainsaws, lava, water and more that will result in many, many, many more death animations. It's all well-rounded with a color scheme that's well-suited for the fast-paced platformer it is. Of course, the visuals aren't the only place it comes across as Sonic, a series it rips chunks off like a hungry T-Rex.
The audio keeps the similarities strong, with a soundtrack that could have been in a previous Hedgehog title. I'd argue that the soundtrack is pretty decent, one that you'll find yourself familiar with thanks to the many deaths you'll suffer, extending your time on any given level. A few of those little clips, such as when you die, can eventually (rapidly) burrow into your brain as an unwanted parasite, but that's – again – because of how often you end up hearing them.
Gameplay is where the similarities end once you get the speed and loop-de-loops out of the way. If I were to compare Panic Porcupine to anything else, it would be Super Meat Boy. Everything is one-hit-death, but the difference here is that the game wants to find a mix of Sonic and Super Meat Boy – Super Meat Hedgehog, if you will. It doesn't do well because the fast-paced instant death and crazy puzzles of SMB don't work well with the more extended collecting activities and even some exploration of Sonic. At least not for me; they don't.
Lack of enemies and focus on avoiding indeath traps is the game. There are boss fights, but this is – again – about avoiding indeath traps. You destroy the boss, Dr. Proventriculus, by bouncing on spinning balls around him. If I was honest, I'd rather Spicy Gyro Games cut out the boss fights or at least make a fun little stage fight after you've done the bounce; it's all rather anticlimactic because Dr Portmanteau doesn't scare me, while a lone spike from a rickety garden fence inspires panic in the Porcupine.
I should clarify that it's not because I'm rubbish at the game. I am doing fine; nothing special, but I've been playing games for a long time and can generally muddle my way through even the most demanding games. My problem with Panic Porcupine – and I've messed around – is that a few things get in the way of enjoyment. Firstly, there is a slight lag in response. You run forward and want to stop, but it takes a while to register your input, which isn't ideal in levels with a lot of short platforms.
Another annoying factor is the camera. While it works well, it's mostly focused squarely on panic. Makes sense, right? Not wrong. Beat the dissenting thoughts. When you're on a platform whizzing from side to side or going in a circle, the camera naturally follows Panic; Only then will you find a horrendously fast moving camera which is the first time I've ever encountered motion sickness (or simple vertigo?) in a game. The same when you are on a pole, spinning around it like the most active stripper, ready to throw you to another pole or the next platform.
There isn't much more to say about Panic Porcupine; that is the reality. If you come into this expecting a fast-paced platformer, you got it. If you come into this expecting a Sonic the Hedgehog homage, you won't get it… except for the visuals, the sound, the main boss, the level names, etc. Okay, maybe you get it. I'll stop writing it now. Do you have it?
Panic Porcupine is a decent enough indie title, coming in at under £7 for the game and soundtrack, something fans of the genre are likely to enjoy despite some of its issues. This was released on the PC last year and last month on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation stores.
PC version reviewed. Copy provided by the publisher.
Products mentioned in this post
Panic Porcupine is much as you'd expect as an homage to Sonic the Hedgehog, though it certainly stands alone with a much higher difficulty ripped straight from the bowels of Super Meat Boy. While more than acceptable, it does have a few core issues in a game like this, one being input lag. Still, despite the issues I found, I can really imagine this being an enjoyable title for fans of the genre.
Panic Porcupine is Sonic the Meat Boy Hedgehog really. Plays great aside from a few collision detection issues. Out on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/…