Review: Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat

By: Kevin Tilley (Unkle K)

Being an old timer harking from the days of the Atari VCS and Commodore 64, the complexities of modern gaming sometimes get the better of me. Not only that, but with a large family and demanding job, spending hours gaming each day is an impossibility. Short, sharp bursts of gaming not only fit into the small amount of free time I actually have, it also suits my rather limited attention span as well. Cue RGCD, who have been bringing us pick up and play Commodore 64 games for years now, and in 2016 released Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat on the Windows platform via the RGCD itch.io store.

After nearly two years since the original itch.io release, and a rather quiet Greenlight campaign, Pan was released on Steam on February 16.

Self-described as “a rhythm-synchronised, old-school, score-chasing arcade game that plays like some alien coin-op from another dimension”, Pan is a mash of the old and new. I can only describe it as the love child of Volfied and Robotron, with a hint of Geometry Wars thrown in – an impressive pedigree indeed, and fortunately for us, it all gels together perfectly.

Set in a rather confined arena, Pan has you navigating the screen and obliterating everything that moves with your bullet tail. The tail follows you around at a distance that is proportional to your speed – the faster you move the longer your tail gets. You can also charge your on board laser cannon whenever the free roaming purploids drift into your tail. Once charged, you have a short burst mega destructive cannon at your disposal, which is essential when the action hits a certain level of franticness. To complete each level you must make a predetermined set of kills. There are also various score chains you can achieve and an assortment of enemy types to get your head around – with most of them homing straight in on you Robotron style, in various speeds and patterns. Enemy portals are destroyed by looping your tail around them, and levels are completed by entering the warp which opens up as soon as you reach the kill quota.

Pan is a frantic and compulsive score chaser that will have you pulling your hair out in disgust and immediately pressing the button for another go. Controls are simple and the game is immediately accessible. There are enough game modes present to keep you more than interested for a good while (include arcade and a survival mode) and the Steam release introduces online leader boards and achievements. For a game like Pan, these simple additions really add to the games longevity.

Graphics are solid without being outstanding, with the limited palette of colours supported by attractive pixel art and various visual effects, that don’t reach ‘Minter’ levels of trippyness but do their job regardless. The soundtrack is perfectly suitable, with various beats and breaks complimenting the gameplay and adding to the overall experience.

Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat deserves to be played. It’s an honest and fun score chaser that will test your (probably aging) reflexes and reward persistence. Old school gamers looking for a quick blast will love it, and younger gamers should give it a go and prove their superiority on the online leader boards – c’mon, I dare you! Highly recommended.


source: James Monkman

Footnote: A special package is still available on itch.io which contains the game (the itch.io download and a Steam key) as well as a set of two matte-finish A2 RGCD posters.