What’s a Pangolin?
Pangolin’s name doesn’t reveal much about its theme or gameplay. Even after playing the game, I still can’t describe exactly what the game’s titular character is supposed to be (although a little internet research will tell you that a Pangolin is a scaly anteater). I do know, however; that Pangolin rolls into a little ball, and it is the player’s task to bounce Pangolin to each level’s end goal.
Pangolin feels like a hybrid of iBlast Moki and the Mario 64 DS minigame, “Trampoline Time.” Players draw a limited number of bounce pads and use these pads to bounce the Pangolin to the goal area of each level. Each scenario has different geometry and level obstacles to contend with, and collectibles to snatch on the way to the level’s end. The real-time trampoline drawing mechanic from the Mario 64 DS minigame is replaced by the focus on planning in iBlast Moki.
Levels feel a bit too large in Pangolin, and it isn’t possible to zoom out to see their entirety. Because of the level sizes and surprise roadblocks, even a skilled player cannot expect to clear most levels in one go. Even less likely is clearing a level the first time with all collectibles. Eventually, Pangolin can wear the player thin with excess trial and error. I would be interested in trying to play this game with a planning stage that involved placing the bounce pads beforehand, but that would significantly alter the game’s pacing.
There are worse things than sitting in a Pangolin level a few too many times, because the game’s art style is a joy to look at. The whole game has a textured look that pops on a Retina display. I played the game in 2x mode on an iPad, and was completely happy with the fidelity of the experience.
I can’t point to anything in Pangolin outside of the art style as being particularly unique or engaging. The bounce mechanic is limited, and doesn’t hold up as well when levels overstay their welcome. I would not want to imply either that Pangolin is ultimately a bad game. The title, aesthetic, and simple mechanics all seem geared towards giving it the mass appeal typical of the many ‘x/3 points at the end of the level’ games – which can help explain the perceived lack of depth.
If you are a fan of iOS experiences that are largely a riff on a single mechanic, give Pangolin a chance on iPhone.
Pangolin is free to try on the App Store