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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Review: Pretty Girls Panic! (Nintendo Switch)


Review by Matt S.

Pretty Girls Panic! by Zoo Corporation is basically the same game as Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic!, a previous title that it (via publisher EastAsiaSoft) has already released on the Nintendo Switch. It is, basically, Qix, but rather than clearing blank or generic backgrounds, you're instead revealing pictures of pretty girls.

Pretty Girls Panic! is so similar to Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic that I'll copy and paste the review across, but there are a couple of minor differences that are worth noting; firstly, rather than girls with guns and dressed up in military uniforms, Pretty Girls Panic! instead has a more tropical vibe and instead focuses, for the most part, on swimwear and other such summery wear. These swimsuits and the like are so much more pleasant than the military stuff, so that's a plus.

On the downside, the character art is also copy/pasted from visual novels (from quite a few years ago now) and therefore looks quite fuzzy and low resolution on the Switch. Given that the art is a key reason to play this, that's a significant detriment to the game. The art still is well-designed and certainly fanservicey enough (there's no nudity but the swimsuits are daring), but it's hard to get past the poor presentation of the game's hero feature. On the other hand, Pretty Girls Panic! is super-cheap for 14 sets of lovely ladies to Qix your way through and so, without further ado, here's the adapted review of the last time that Zoo Corporation brought this kind of action to our Switches:


The game is a homage to Gals Panic, a series of super-lewd arcade games in the 90's. In those games, the main "hook" was that by playing well you'd get to reveal the silhouette of a character that, at the start of the level, was completely hidden. In Qix, the goal of the game is to uncover 70 per cent or so of the playfield by drawing "boxes," while avoiding enemies as you do so. In regular Qix you're just drawing boxes. In Gals Panic and Pretty Girls Panic!, after you draw a box, whatever was silhouetted underneath is revealed. Naturally, you want to reveal the girl, but since she's in the middle of the playfield you generally need to take some risks to do that, because those enemies are bounding around and the middle of the playfield is where things get most dangerous.

Now, Gals Panic was pretty erotic, with nudity and everything (for those that didn't live in markets that censored this stuff). In comparison to that series, Pretty Girls Panic! aims for the classy route, eschewing nudity for a sexy pin-up aesthetic. It's art like you'd see in a calendar that a brazen person might display in the lounge room without needing to worry about being called an out-and-out pervert should a guest arrive. By that, I mean there are some provocative "camera angles", and rather revealing clothing, but no actual "naughty bits" exposed.

The game plays like a very standard version of Qix, with a couple of different enemy types and the occasional power-up, all of which do make it substantially easier to complete levels, so their presence in the game is meaningful. Each of the enemy types follow prescribed behaviours and are very fair (many Qix games have enemies that move completely randomly, which can be infuriating to deal with). The only issue with the game, mechanically, is the size of the icon of your own character. Because it's an octopus icon, and quite big, it's hard to tell when you've started drawing a box sometimes. More than a few times I'd accidentally inched forwards without realising it, only to have an enemy crash into me and knock me out. Qix is also a game where you will sometimes need to draw tiny boxes, and that's difficult when the icon is hiding the lines underneath them.


There's not a lot of meat to Pretty Girls Panic! The 14 characters have between three and five stages each, and that flies by pretty quickly, though the difficulty curve is steady and the more extreme levels will test your classic arcade ability. Thankfully, however, there is a good reason to replay levels, even once you know what the waifu underneath looks like, because there's an online leaderboard for each individual stage, and getting to the top is a rewarding challenge - you'll need to complete levels quickly, using big boxes (the larger the box you draw, the more points), and without losing lives. There's room for some big variations in the score earned there, so people at the top of the leaderboard will rightfully feel like they've earned their place there.

For a homage to a game from the 80's, faithfully recreating a gameplay system that was invented 40 years ago, Pretty Girls Panic! feels like a modern, funky game. The anime aesthetic is gorgeous and current, although the developers really should have done something about the quality of the sprites, and the fussy outlines from the relatively low resolution of those sprites are unforgivable given that they are the entire hook behind the game. There are also not that many stages, but with that said Pretty Girls Panic! also has plenty of replay value and an excellent leaderboard system for such a minimal price. Most compelling of all, though, is the fact that the game is an uncomplicated and well-done take on Qix. Qix is the kind of game that doesn't need developers to mess around with it, and to the great credit of Pretty Girls Panic!'s developer, they've let the base game stand for itself.



Matt S.
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb


Review: Pretty Girls Panic! (Nintendo Switch)
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