APP OF THE DAY: Land-a Panda (iOS / Android)
Who'd have thought that flinging virtual pandas out of cannons to the plinky-plonky sounds of a mesmerising 8-bit-esque soundtrack would ever be considered normal? Well, Land-a Panda delivers that exact bonkers concept is a sleek and stylised package.
- iPhone (version tested), iPod touch, iPad, Android
- Free (£1.49 iPad)
- iTunes / Google Play
Land-a Panda is a simple concept: you play lovestruck Yang Guang, a near-spherical shaped, cartoony male panda, who you need to guide - and by "guide" we mean fling via the power of various cannons - to your potential other half Tian Tian. The future of virtual pandas depends on it.
It sounds dead simple and, indeed, it is. At least at first. The initial batch of levels are completed in a matter of seconds, but once you've garnered the flow of the game and how the angle and projection of each cannon works the game then ups the difficulty ante at a progressive rate.
As well as auto-firing cannons, there are others that you can rotate or fire by the use of on-screen buttons; while others automatically move and/or spin in set paths around the screen. Fire poor Tang Guang off screen and it's game over, as Tian Tian's whimpers and tears will attest.
The cheeky animations - whether applying makeup, reading a book, or munching on bamboo - add a lick of comedy and give the game a real style all of its own. It looks a bit like Megadrive-era James Pond spliced with a medley of Japanese kids' cartoons.
A level can be completed by simply reaching your loved one, but there's a further twist: three coins are present in each level which add points, but are also increasingly difficult to obtain as the levels pass by. Each one you're able to grab adds to the overall score as well as being desirable in order to achieve a full board on the level select screen. In some levels only certain routes will enable all three stars to be collected, which adds to the replay value - though it's often immediate replay, as that feeling of determination grows inside your mind.
Time is also a factor to your overall score, so the quicker you ping Yang Guang from cannon to cannon the more likely you are to have friend-beating numbers in your iPhone's Game Center (the game is also available for Android; we tested using an iPhone 4 for this review).
However, the introduction of spiked walls, ghosts (we're not sure exactly why, but hey, we'll play along) and other ghouls makes the whole experience tougher. Timing becomes more critical and even experienced gamers will begin to make mistakes.
Land-a Panda is a responsive and fun little game that continues to update with new levels and is also free to download. What's not to like? We love this addictive game.