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For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Roll up, roll up

Product: Pangolin | Developer: Feedtank | Publisher: Feedtank | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Pangolin iPhone, thumbnail 1
Pangolins are awesome. They're cute little mammals with scales, which they use when they curl themselves into a ball to defend themselves from predators in the wild. Predators like lions.

Pangolin for iOS also aims to be awesome. But it isn't. It's a competent enough game in most areas, but a few flaws hold it back. Lions don't eat iOS games, but if they did Pangolin would be lunch in no time.

Scaling challenge

The game is free to download, though you only get ten stages. After you've burned through those you can unlock another chunk of 40.

The aim is to take a bouncing pangolin from one area of a map to another using trampolines that you bring into play by tapping the screen with two fingers simultaneously. The width of each trampoline determines the strength of its strings, allowing you to mightily launch your pangolin into the air or softly bounce him over a nearby obstacle.

This often feels too imprecise to be a practical control method. A lot of your time with Pangolin is spent retrying stages, inching farther on each attempt, working out the angle you'll need to bounce at, and then screwing up again.

It's an issue of camera perspective: your pangolin is the fixed central point in a fairly claustrophobic screen, and there's no option to make alterations and find a distance you're comfortable with.

IAPs explained
69p nets you 40 more levels in the form of the Exploration World. They're challenging and - for the most part - well-designed.

69p also gets you five more bounces, with £1.49 netting you 15. Do not buy these utter rip-offs. It implies that they'll be a permanent addition to your bouncing stock, but they are in actuality a consumable. An absolute waste of money.
When you end up in a pit of spikes that you couldn't possibly have known were there for the 20th time, the game starts to feel unfair.

A pang(olin) of regret

This is compounded by the limited number of bounces you can make on each attempt. You're always given enough to scrape through, but no more. Unless you're willing to pay for them of course.

This means that each trampoline you place simply has to be in the perfect position, or else you're going to have to restart. Thankfully, you can retry with a quick swipe to the right, easing some of the frustration.

This well-implemented retry option isn't the only positive feature of the game, of course. The art style has a striking watercolour and cloth motif, and the music has an ethereal, tribal, almost dark tinge to its minimal melodies.

The three diamonds scattered about each level offer plenty of challenge - though you can make them more achievable by paying for extra bounces.

Moving hazards also add to the game's complexity, as do permanent trampolines and obstructive tower blocks that you have to push over. The whole feeling of fighting against and working with the gravity in place is also highly compelling, it's definitely a game that - though frustrating - as you trying again and again.

Pangolin has 5/10 written all over it. It's got some good ideas, but their implementation is a bit raw. If you're a fan of physics-based puzzlers, it's definitely worth taking a closer look, but if you're tired of the genre then there's nothing for you to see here.
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 18 January 2013
The core implementation of placing trampolines to bounce your pangolin up-screen is just a little too unwieldy to heartily recommend. Nevertheless, the art's great and the physics are spot on
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