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Pub: Crystal DynamicsReleased: 4.24.97
Dev: Crystal DynamicsWritten: 7.28.03

At its core, Pandemonium! is a platformer we have played before. However, it's one we've not quite seen before. Simply put, Pandemonium! is a visual tour-de-force. And that's what sets it apart from the crowd of ''me-too'' platformers. It has remarkable camera angles that changes on its own -- breathtaking views that are both cinematic and practical. Being an impressive 2.5-D game (think sort of a hybrid between Crash Bandicoot and NiGHTS) Pandemonium! has a polygonal pizzazz to it, along with solid play mechanics, that helps makes it a cut above

  • Graphics: 9

OK, so there's some 'rough' spots here and there, but that's because the game's visuals reach for a very high and ambitious level. And in my opinion, for the most part, delivers. The Playstation version is said to be happy and bright with the usage of colors. Here, things are a bit darker and more foreboding. You'll be treated to various well mapped-out locations, from a forest, desert, storm temple, castle, etc. Some levels, due to their incredible background detail and whatnot, seem to stretch on for miles and miles... very impressive

  • Sound: 8.5

Very effective in my book. The music reflects the stage it represents and enhances the feeling of ''being there''

  • Gameplay: 8.5

Gameplay is strictly 2D but the characters are polygonal and the backgrounds 3D. You control Nikki or Fargus. Fargus can do a cartwheel attack while Nikki can double jump. I found Nikki much more useful. Fargus makes for a more challenging game experience, however. You kill enemies by jumping on their head or shooting them, provided you've nabbed the proper icon. During certain points in some levels, you'll transform into a turtle, frog, flying dragon or a rhino. This adds some variety and makes for interesting sections

While yes, the gameplay's quite basic and not innovative, it's well done. Having played a fair share of platformers, many repeat the similar concepts and fail to feel refreshing. Crystal Dynamics however found a way to make the old seem almost new. Or rather, made the old seem attractive again. I can't really explain it. You have to play this for yourself

  • Fun Factor: 9

It's a great time out. Like I said, gameplay is nothing new but I found myself surprisingly immersed into Pandemonium!'s semi-psychedelic worlds... there are some frustrating parts to the game, but almost every good game has certain super-hard sections... the kind that separates the boys from the men.... the kind that separates the weekend warrior from the everyday gladiator... you get my point. I must say, however, that the game's first 13 levels hooked me big time. 14-end let up a bit though

  • Longevity: 6.5

In my book, platformers just don't have a great long-term life. You play them, conquer them, and move on. The really great ones you do end up playing every now and then. The ability to use either Nikki or Fargus helps a little bit. True fans may want to play the game through twice using each protagonist. The game's 22 levels took me 8-10 hours to beat. After each level the % of treasure you found is listed. There are incentives to score high... and the diehard fan will try to master each level. Throw in the other character and that adds another 5-8 hours... but it will take a very appreciative gamer to do all this. Most likely you'll beat it once, shelf it and move on to the next game

But... it's sure damn fun while it lasts


  • 22 levels, each with an interesting name e.g. Lost Caves, Hollow Stairway, etc.
  • Lots of different little enemies, but I wish they had more ''oomph." They range from evil plants to giant spiders to spiky snails
  • 3 bosses total. Each takes place on a circular playing field. The last boss is REALLY difficult. You better find all heart icons... (you start out with two hearts, and can find up to five more, but finding them is real tough... you'll have to search the giant levels, and not just flee directly to the exit, which means a greater risk of dying obviously)
  • Mark my words: Levels 14 and 18 will test your sanity and skills. It took me about 20 tries to beat level 14, and 40 tries to beat level 18. They're very frustrating but hang in there... you're almost at the end...
  • Fargus is voice-acted by Greg Proops, the guy from ''Whose Line is it Anyway?''
  • The ending is pretty funny, and the game intro is well done
  • Manual is very well done and easy-to-read. I liked how they gave a small summary of each level... treating each as a separate world almost, which is something I appreciate and gets me amped up to play and explore the giant levels
  • Loading times are a wee bit long, but fair in the sense that the game doesn't load often
  • No save feature, sorry... it's old-school paper-and-pen(cil) passwords!
  • When you beat the game, make sure you wait all the way until the end... you'll be treated to a very special treat... it's quite a trip -- you'll see! Hint: It's why the game reminds me of NiGHTS....


Pandemonium! is a rock-solid game that is easily, in my book, a top five domestic Saturn platformer. It's an underrated game that deserves more praise. The back of the box says ''Pandemonium! may single-handedly revolutionize the platform genre.'' It didn't do THAT much, but it's safe to say you probably won't regret adding it to your collection

Especially considering its low going rate these days. A job well done, Crystal Dynamics. Check out Pandemonium! today -- I personally think it's the top platformer on Saturn