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Land-A Panda Review: Casual, Cheap, Captivating

Pandas.

What can you not like about pandas?  They’re cute, cuddly, and just so good looking.  Maybe this is all due to my Asian heritage and the fact that those animals literally crawl all over my country, but hey, you have to admit these bears are quite cute (sneezing panda video, anyone?).

And that’s what made Land-A Panda so enticing: that cuteness factor, the such artsy graphics.

But of course, gameplay always comes first in my eyes, and I’m going to go straight to the point: it’s average.  I’m not entirely hooked on Land-A Panda, but there’s no way I’m going to absolutely despise the gameplay.

For starters, there could be a lot more GameCenter achievements; 15 isn’t going to cut it.  The gameplay does feel a bit repetitive in the beginning, and as the levels go on, the difficulty ramps up a little too quickly for my taste.

But when it’s all said and done, it’s 0nly $0.99, it’s got a ton of levels with more coming soon, and the art style is just too great to not like.

Likes

Content: The App Store thrives on these type of games: $0.99 with a lot of content.  It almost felt like the developers went the Angry Bird route in the way they presented the level menus and the star system, but there’s really nothing wrong with copying a winning formula.  There’s really just a lot here, and I doubt that there are many games out there that can boast so much content for so little money.

Artwork: I’m going to rave about the artwork until I’m blue in the face because I am just absolutely in love with it.  Props to the artist, you deserve it.

Price: Price is always an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to apps, especially in the stingy environment known as the App Store, and that $0.99 price point is quite appealing for a game like this.  While we’ve seen games like Dungeon Hunter 2 go on sale for $0.99, Land-A Panda has an odd sense of appeal to it that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Dislikes

All too familiar: I mentioned it before, but for some odd reason, I feel like I’ve played this game before.  Maybe it’s the Angry Birds level style or the casual gameplay itself, but the experience is just too familiar for me to say that this is an original game.

Difficulty: Timing is everything in a game like this—with not much real thinking involved—but the difficulty ramps up quickly even within the first world.  I’m not a huge fan of difficult puzzle games, along with maybe 90% of people out there, and Land-A Panda gets difficult.

The verdict: Land-A Panda is quite average.  But the tantalizing price point and the cute graphics seem to balance out the average gameplay, along with the ton of content involved.  I feel like there are more and more of these casual games in the App Store—in fact, it seems like those or the only games we’re getting review requests for—but Land-A Panda seems to do everything a casual game should do.

Land-A Panda was developed by Big Pixel Studios, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPad 2 and iPhone 4.  The price is $1.99 and $0.99 respectively.




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