In theory picnics should be pleasant, relaxing affairs. Picture it – a nice sunny day, an idylic country setting, a basket bulging with your favourite grub, what could be more perfect?
In practice, however, they can often be a nightmare.
Once you’ve traipsed your way into the wilderness, found somewhere not covered in cow dung to sit, and laid out your delicious spread, the sun invariably disappears behind a cloud, it starts to drizzle, and the univited guests descend…
In this respect Assyria Studios (Future Racer) are bang on the money. Your picnic blanket quickly becomes a battlefield as hordes of hungry bugs arrive and you must defend the food by frantically squishing these pesky gate-crashers.
It’s a simple idea, but one that is brilliantly suited to a touchscreen. Controls couldn’t be easier to grasp: just tap on a creepy crawly to splatter it with your finger. Although as the game progresses things do get slightly more complex, hence the titular panic.
Bigger bugs, that take more of a poking before they pop, soon arrive, along with armies of ants, and wasps that can’t be killed until they land. This variety between enemies meaning that quick thinking and fast fingerwork is a must if you don’t want your feast to be gobbled up.
Points are awarded for every dead bug, while combos can also be racked up by splattering the same type of bugs in unison. Once you reach the target score, the next level is unlocked.
Viewed from a top down perspective, the game looks great. The cartoony insects splatter into a gross, gooey mess, and food gets realistically nibbled away. Sounds effects are equally well utilized, in particular the satisfying crunch when a pulsating caterpillar gets crushed.
It’s not all fun and games though, the fast-paced gameplay and a badly positioned pause button (see screenies) means that accidently bringing the action to a halt happens with irritating regularity. Also the meagre amount of levels on offer (only four) aren’t exactly much to sink your teeth into.
That said, Picnic Panic is best enjoyed in short bursts anyway and will keep you coming back for more if only to beat your best score.
iFanzine Verdict:Assyria Studios have captured the unique “pleasure” of picnicking, complete with creepy crawly crushing mayhem. A great idea for an iDevice game, almost perfectly executed.