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Panic Restaurant (NES) artwork

Panic Restaurant (NES) review

"You control an elderly chef who finds that a villainous counterpart named OHDOVE has just taken over his restaurant AND somehow made all the food homicidal. Personally, I'm a bit skeptical as to how food that attacks people is going to help this place keep customers happy, but unlike OHDOVE, I've never presumed to be a qualified restaurant owner."

So, at the office today, this one annoying co-worker was testing my patience even more than usual with her constant yammering about nothing and inability to be silent for even a short period of time. Like, I'm talking "homicide-without-remorse" levels of annoying. So, in order to keep myself away from murder charges at least for a little while longer, I put down what I had been doing and played Panic Restaurant to channel my rage in a more productive direction. Maybe some wouldn't consider me "Employee of the Year" material for using office time in such a fashion, but if me taking a break from quietly seething with murderous rage to play a game prevents even one unnecessary and brutal slaying, I think most people would agree that, in reality, my actions benefited the company.

Well, steering the conversation away from my mental issues and anger problems, Panic Restaurant was a perfectly okay way to spend roughly an hour. Nothing to get excited about, but it's at least a fairly competent little NES platformer. It's not remotely in the same galaxy as Castlevania III, but is still good enough to be gravely insulted by any comparison to Athena.

You control an elderly chef who finds that a villainous counterpart named OHDOVE has just taken over his restaurant AND somehow made all the food homicidal. Personally, I'm a bit skeptical as to how food that attacks people is going to help this place keep customers happy, but unlike OHDOVE, I've never presumed to be a qualified restaurant owner.

Anyway, you'll go through six stages before beating OHDOVE in what is a pretty short game. What really stings is that there isn't much challenge to things until the fourth level. When looking at my notes for the initial stages, my comments were really terse, such as "really basic" for the first level and "not much more" for the second. The third adds a few light platforming elements, such as jumping from bubble to bubble over boiling (instant-death) water, but had nothing that jumped out and grabbed my attention.

The final three stages are different, though. The fourth stage introduces shish kebabs that fly at you, often at awkward angles, while much of the fifth is on icy terrain, making it more of a challenge to keep from blundering into various lethal mishaps. The sixth also poses a decent level of challenge, as you'll have to move quickly to avoid being skewered by lethal.....french fries being shot at you from across the screen throughout much of the stage. During those three stages, I found my indifference turning to enjoyment, which made me a tad bit sad when the game was over so shortly after I started having fun. Part of Panic Restaurant was pretty good, but that was only half a very short game.

And I could describe just about every aspect of this game as "pretty good, but....". You have a few nice weapons you can use until taking a hit, such as a pogo stick fork or dishes you can fling at foes, but your default frying pan has so little range that an enemy basically has to be right on top of you before you can whack it. To compensate for that, all regular enemies expire upon being hit once. There's no strategy involving how best to take out tricky foes in this game --  you just get right up to them as quickly as possible and whack them before they collide with you.

The graphics and sound here are pretty solid for a NES platformer with various sorts of food being used to represent virtually all enemies and bosses, while the play control was pretty solid, too. The only real complaint I had as far as controlling my chef was the way he'd recoil after being hit. More than once, I got to watch the dude take a glancing blow from an enemy and fly off a ledge or into spikes for a quick death.

Still, the best I can say about Panic Restaurant is that it's "okay". While it did some things pretty well, its lack of length combined with how only three of the stages were somewhat noteworthy ensures that it won't be considered one of the better games of its time. It's fun and kind of quirky (you won't get assaulted by a giant ice cream cone in too many other games), but not a memorable game I'm interesting in playing again. Panic Restaurant is a decent quick diversion, but not much more.

Rating: 5/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (January 21, 2009)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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bloomer posted January 24, 2009:

Is there a guy in this game who says 'Welcome!.. to Panic Restaurant.' Because that would be cool.

In less specious remarks, I enjoyed this review, and the screenshots.

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