148Apps Network Post
Developer: ABig Pixel Studios
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G, iPAd

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Land-a Panda is a story of love, of one panda who will shoot himself through cannons repeatedly to get himself to his special lady panda. You start off by catapulting your lovesick panda into the playing field, and then navigating him through various hazards like spikes, enemies circling around the cannons, and just tricky cannon placements. You tap on a cannon to launch yourself from it, with some cannons that launch at a fixed angle, some that move along a line, some that you can rotate around, some that rotate automatically…and some cannons that are a combination of all those. You also have 3 stars in each level to try and collect throughout the game’s 80 levels.

The game looks absolutely fantastic on either the Retina Display or the iPad’s screen with the HD version (which also provides a wider view of the action). It’s just so colorful and full of detail. The gameplay is really fun – getting to shoot around cannons reminds me at times of the Sonic games and some of those levels. The level design does often challenge you, and there are the occasional ingenious moments, like when launching into the playing field becomes part of the game’s timing elements. The game also makes sure to appropriately introduce elements gradually as you play it, so you don’t feel too overwhelmed when you have to deal with a bunch of different cannon types at once. As well, the game comes with OpenFeint and Game Center support for achievements and leaderboards integrated into the game.

The game can be quite frustrating, especially as some levels wind up being randomly harder than ones that come after it. Also, the game doesn’t support progress synchronization between the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch versions. The controls for the cannons that you can rotate around are a bit unwieldy, as they’re just simulated digital buttons, so if you’re trying to fire straight up, then you need to use very quick taps to get it done. I wonder if a button used to launch the ccannon would have worked better instead of tapping ont he cannon itself, as if you’re a bit off, you might not launch when you want to launch, and it would give you a better solution for cannon rotation.

This physics puzzler is great to look at, and fun to play, if not a bit challenging. But, it wouldn’t be much of a puzzler if it didn’t puzzle you, I suppose. The cannon mechanic is fun to play with, and with promises of more content coming in the future, this is one worth looking at if you’re sick of launching birds, and want some more controlled launches of adorable pandas.

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