Now available for: iPhone, PSN (US only, soon EU)
From memory, Pandemonium was one of the most impressive looking console games of its time, and a neat bridge of the dying platformer genre's shift from comfortable side-scrolling 2D adventures to more expansive and fully-fledged 3D outings. Pandemonium was something in-between, a 2.5D platformer, with players running left and right along linear routes that automatically swerved and buckled in and out of the screen with additional elements that cut in through the fore and background, all with impressive results.
But the years haven't been too kind to Pandemonium. Like most PlayStation and Saturn games from that era, the combination of a low screen resolution and environments swamped with jaggy polygons makes it difficult for the eyes to digest today. It's a little heartbreaking to those who remember it fondly, but if you manage to get past its aged visuals, it remains a cheerful game with tons of personality.
Pandemonium starts with our two central characters - a mage in training Nikki and joker Fargus - who unwittingly unleash a monster that gobbles up an entire town, and so set off on a lengthy journey to the Wishing Engine to set things right. Headed through customary forest, underground and ice areas, players could choose between either character before a stage starts and make use of their unique abilities; Nikki could double jump while Fargus could unleash a special spinning attack. While the game didn't rely on using either for actual progression, the former was obviously more useful for bonuses and screens.
As far as platformers go, it's very by-the-numbers, but it featured its own unique elements. Mini-games at the end of stages would unlock provided players obtained a certain number of treasures, avoiding vortexes or navigating pinball boards, while each character could make use of limited magic for projectiles or to turn into animals. As basic as the platforming was, it had its fair share of challenging elements, and players could permanently boost their life count with hard-to-find heart containers, which would help your chances against the game's tough bosses, including a bizarre but challenging giant cannon-commanding eyeball at the end.
Pandemonium did well enough to earn a direct sequel, which added new elements such as vehicles, more unique abilities and the chance to view multiple endings for each character. Although it's failed to see any further sequels or cameos in later Eidos releases, its fan-favourite status has seen it given an iPhone port (with some rough touch screen controls), and soon, a re-release on PlayStation Network, making it playable once again on PlayStation 3 and PC. It's a little rough today, but a game worth revisiting.
Do you have many fond memories of Pandemonium? Add a comment to the space below!