PS5/PS4 Review: Panda Punch

Is this panda punching above his weight?

Panda Punch is a puzzle platformer game in which you have to control a red panda and save the world from evil alien robots. Solve puzzles on the levels, collect coins, look for super coins, pump your abilities from the blacksmith. Defeat bosses, get new abilities.

Panda Punch starts out simple enough as a 2D platformer as you try to find the exit to each stage and it has a nice retro look to it, but it does have a lot of red flags that would make the Angry Video Game Nerd blush such as not being able to tell enemies from the background, leaps of faith that can sometimes end with you landing directly into spikes below and my biggest pet peeve, bottomless pits that you can get knocked into by an enemy turret firing at you.

In this instance you have to time your jump perfectly to not only jump a gap but also avoid a stray bullet from knocking you back to your death. Suffice to say this took me a good few attempts and you begin the level all over again afterwards on this particular level. Most levels have checkpoints so you just go back a little while before dying but other times you won’t be so lucky. The major problem with the Panda itself is that it’s jump is weak, so weak that I’ve missed the smallest of jumps as a result and plummeted below to either my death or so far down that I wish I had.

There are bosses but these have a rather curious exploit. I found the first to have way too many hit points when you only have 3 hit points yourself, but if you spam the enemy until you are down to a single hit point and hit restart checkpoint in the menu you will end up reloading the stage a few seconds, but you will gain all your health back and the boss will still have maintained the damage you’ve done. I don’t know if this is just a weird glitch or intentional but it was the highlight of the game for me, I haven’t laughed that much at a boss exploit ever.

After beating the first boss you can exchange coins for extra hit points and stronger attacks…. which really could have helped before that…but the funny thing is that chances are that now the Platinum trophy will pop so you can decide to simply stop playing now if you simply playing it for the trophies. If you want to dig deeper and make it through the remaining stages and bosses then you can, but as with most Ratalaika games you usually get every trophy really early on. The good news is that its cheap and it has a double trophy list if you want to get two Platinums.

The Verdict

All in all, it took me about an hour or so to Platinum the game but a few more to beat the full game. The challenge does increase and the frustration does too with cheap enemies and bosses that are infuriating at times. It’s not the hardest platformer I’ve played but it definitely leans more into the “what not to do” moments to include in a platformer. It has a nice classic look to it and it has its moments, just try not to throw your controller during the more agonising points in the game.

Score: 6.0