Once upon a time, platform games were the dominant genre of video games. The 90s were the Golden Age for platform games, bringing some of the most memorable and likeable mascot characters in gaming history. Nintendo had their trusty stalwart Mario while Sega of course had Sonic, leading the way for more platform heroes to appear on the SNES and Megadrive. While many regard Crash Bandicoot as the most iconic platform character of the original Playstation, the console also had its fair share of platform games among all the more mature-aimed games. The one we'll be looking at today is the 2.5D classic Pandemonium.
Players are given the choice to play as a sorcerer girl named Nikki and a jester named Fargus. During my play-through I found Nikki to be the more useful character since she has a double jump – always useful in a platform game, especially in this game where there are plenty of obstacles to overcome and secrets to discover. For the era at least, Pandemonium is unique due to being truly 2.5D. While plenty of games have that label, Pandemonium takes the term one step further. While the player is strictly moving on a traditional 2D plane, the levels twist and turn in three dimensions, allowing for engaging level design. A prime example of what I mean is in the second level where the player scales a curved staircase. The camera always positions itself in a way that helps the player, e.g. having a top-down view over platforming sections where accuracy is key. As a side note, it feels a shame that more games don't have this type of design. Pandemonium has all the traditional elements associated with platform games such as coins and power-ups (such as one that gives the player a projectile attack. The enemies are standard fare: spiders, fly-traps, bats, etc.
From a technical standpoint the graphics have aged dramatically (which is often the case for Fifth Gen games), combining low-poly character models and textures with traditional sprites. However, I find there's a certain nostalgic charm to the graphics that also enhance the game-play. From a more artistic standpoint, Pandemonium has a cartoon-like medieval/fantasy flair to it, with gloomy caves and foreboding fortresses as levels. The lively soundtrack reinforces the medieval setting by using instruments such as lutes.
If you're a fan of 2D platform games or are just after a PS One nostalgia trip, I recommend Pandemonium! It can be purchased here.