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Panic!: The Most Polarizing Game of All Time?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 12, 2014   |   Episode 15 (Show Archive)  

Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Who knew that Panic would be this polarizing? What looks like a cute and funny Sega CD game seems to bring out the worst in people. There are people that hate this game with every fiber of their being, quick to point out that it's not a real game. But it has its fans as well. In an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery, we dug through the review archive to see what Electronic Gaming Monthly, Next Generation, Sega Force Mega, GamePro and other 1990s magazines thought of Panic. The results may shock you!

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

[ Company: Data East | Console: Sega CD ]

VIDEO GAMES (December 1994)
9 out of 10

"Yes, the buttons do have predictable results. On the other hand, if you're like me, you won't want to finish the game. I'd rather play for hours on end, exploring the different worlds and laughing my butt off at all the psycho humor. Don't miss this unique, surreal game; Panic! Is a riot." -Chris Bieniek

2 out of 5

"Panic wants to defy description and critical analysis. The world's machines have gone haywire, and each of the game's hundreds of screens has a different gadget with buttons to push. It's engrossing in a Zen sort of way, and kind of fun in small doses, but it's unclear whether the designers tried to be new and innovative , or just figured if they keep it vague, players would think the animation was cute and not notice there was no real game there."

7 out of 10

"Panic is not much of a game, rather it's a series of visual gags. It's fun to watch all the hilarious things going on, and a lot of it is downright twisted. The graphics and animation are top-notch, and most players will take note. Panic is meant for an older crowd perhaps, though almost anyone will enjoy the bizarre scenes. The replay value is good, because no one can see all the jokes in one sitting. You should try it." -Ed

84% out of 100%

"This is one of the most amusing games I've ever played. [Panic] is incredibly easy but gameplay boils down to a simple memory test. You either try to remember the correct button to move onto the next scene or choose a favourite joke. Still, [Panic]'s many, many gags give hours of fun; a must for those of a childish disposition -- like myself." -Tim

GAMEPRO (July 1995)
1 out of 5

"Data East has come up with one of the year's more unusual puzzlers. Unfortunately, "unusual" doesn't equal "fun." Supposedly this game is for older audiences, but childish graphics and feeble humor make it more appropriate for kids with a lot of time on their hands. You won't be in a panic to finish this game." -Captain Squideo

(The Essential Sega Guide)
90% out of 100%

"There are no two ways about it -- this is one odd game. There are hundreds of screens and different buttons which call forth thousands of visual gags, accompanied by strange vocal effects. If your sense of humor tends towards the unusual you'll have a ball and if you've got a bunch of like-minded mates around this game could form the basis for an all-night party!" -Rich

GAME INFORMER (January 1995)
2 out of 10

"Welcome to the wacked out world of Panic, Data East's newest Sega CD release. Panic's main characteristic is centered around its style of play. The game doesn't really use any type of strategy. Instead, it is more of a pick and hope concept. Panic is sure to turn some heads this year. Data East's first Sega CD game is looking like a unique multimedia experience."

GAME PLAYERS (February 1995)
82% out of 100%

"This isn't so much a game as it is an exercise in button pushing. You push a button and something weird happens. You might even win the game. This looks like it was designed by people on drugs for people on drugs!"

5 out of 10

"Panic is a strange concept that is very welcome as far as originality goes. I like the cartoon-like graphics and the CD music was whimsical. The idea of how you must save the world is pretty cool and so original it hurt! [sic] It's full of cute and sick humor -- the latter always a big plus. The problem is it got going pretty fast. I lost interest and just wanted to get to the end without really playing. It's good for passing time." -Al

65% out of 100%

"The lads from SNES FORCE are usually too busy playing Street Fighter II to bother about MD games, but the moment a [Panic] sprite farted, they were crowding around the monitor, begging me to press the switch again. Shows the mentality of the Nintendo crew, eh? My advice is to buy it as a showpiece for your Mega-CD and 'a party piece', where this kind of humour would go down a storm." -Paul
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 60% - Talk about contentious. In retrospect, I should have warned you about the possibility of whiplash. This is one of those games you either love or hate, there's very little room for middle ground. Chris Bieniek at Video Games (formerly Video Games & Computer Entertainment) couldn't get enough of the CD-ROM experiment, specifically noting the "psycho humor." GamePro disagreed, complaining about the childish antics and feeble stabs at humor. Next Generation agreed, suggesting that "there was no real game there." Mean Machines, Sega Mega Force and Game Players disagreed, but their voices were matched by Game Informer. Given how low some of the scores are, Panic is lucky to eek by with an average of 60%.



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