Stack ’em High!

Time for a confession – having glanced at a few screenshots and quickly scanned the app description, I wrote Appular’s new game, Push Panic (out now, $0.99), off as just another mildly entertaining variation on the old match-three puzzle formula. Could I have been more wrong?.

Later, hunched over my iPod, beads of perspiration on my brow, fingers dancing about the screen as I frantically tried and tried again to conquer a particularly tricky level, I realized I wasn’t just hooked; I was in love. Yes, Push Panic is that good.

So what exactly makes this unassuming looking little title such a blast and so goddamn addictive?. Well, like all the best puzzlers, Push Panic possesses a premise and core mechanic that’s pretty much crystal clear the moment you load the game up for the first time.

What you’ve got to do is match up groups of multi-colored blocks as they tumble down the screen. A tap selects a particular color of block, while a double tap removes all the corresponding pieces from play. The more blocks you remove, the more points you’re awarded. The trick obviously is to allow the screen to almost fill up, then quickly start tapping blocks, so as to obtain a higher score, but, bear in mind, should the screen overflow it’s game-over! So, the question is: do you play it safe by removing blocks as fast as you can, or do you go for the bigger combos and risk everything by letting them stack up dangerously high?.

“Classic Mode” is the meat and potatoes of the game, and despite not getting off to the most action-packed of starts – you’ll likely breeze through the initial 20 or so stages without a hitch, wondering what all the fuss is about – Push Panic soon picks up the pace and ramps up the difficulty. Nerves of steel, nimble fingers, and split-second timing are a must as you progress, with indestructible blocks, special multiplier blocks, bombs and more being brought into play, the fast-paced thrills building up to a dizzying crescendo, and the bar being lowered during later levels meaning you must play in a tighter and tighter space.

In addition to thumb-numbingly brilliant Classic Mode, Color Panic, Time Panic, Score Panic offer fun variations on the core game, while Appular also manage to crowbar in both Game Center and Openfeint integration. This incredibly exciting and addictive action puzzler comes highly recommended, but maybe not for those of a nervous disposition!


iFanzine Verdict: Push Panic is a puzzler so epically addictive it should come with a health warning attached. The adrenalized block busting action of Classic Mode is well worth the price-tag alone, but Appular also throw in a number of bonus modes and a hefty dose of Game Center and Openfeint fun for good measure. An absolute must have for puzzle fans!

[xrr rating=4/5]