Pandemonium titleElectronic Arts has brought the 1996 PC / Playstation / Saturn Eidos title Pandemonium! [App Store] to the iPhone  and iPod touch.

Originally published by Crystal Dynamics, Pandemonium is a run, jump, shoot, and stomp platformer that is best described as "2.5D", in that, while the graphics are fully 3D rendered, gameplay takes place along a 2D plane.  It feels something akin to (the more notable titles) Crash Bandicoot meets NiGHTS Into Dreams.

The game stars Nikki, a young sorceress in training, her court jester friend Fargus, and his puppet Sid.  One night at a wizards' training seminar, they get hold of the Anicent Wizards Spellbook and Nikki starts casting spells atop Lancelot's Castle.  It's all fun and games until she unwisely attempts a 10th level spell and summons a frightful beast known as Yungo who proceeds to consume the entire village in a single gulp.  Stricken, the lot sets off for the Wishing Engine in an attempt to save the village and undo the damage they'd wrought.

pandemonium screen

Gameplay involves running amongst the twisty paths and platforms of 18 different worlds (each with a number of levels) in an attempt to save the village.  Along the way there are treasures, weapons, and health power-ups to collect while dodging, stomping, and shooting a host of beastly enemies, including spiders, poison plants, dragons, and goons.  At the start of each level, the player can choose between Nikki and Fargus.  While Fargus has a cartwheel-attack skill, acrobatic Nikki can perform double jumps so useful in reaching far-away platforms.

pandemonium bridgeI first encountered the game as a pack-in title that came with a 3Dfx Voodoo video card for the PC, back in 1998.  It was an impressive demonstration of the video hardware of the day and, at the time, was fairly well reviewed by critics.  Pandemonium! for the iPhone is closer to the Windows version of the game, which features perspective correct texture mapping and an overall cleaner look than the console versions.  And while the graphics break no new ground today, they hold up rather well and actually seem best suited for a mobile device rather than a big screen, given the relatively simple textures used in the rendering.

I've tried Pandemonium! on both an iPhone 3G and a 2G iPod touch and have noted that, while the animation is quite smooth on the touch, the game does exhibit occasional framerate dips on the iPhone 3G.  Another mild criticism I might make concerns the simple sound effects and fairly monotonous in-game music -- they could have done with a bit of an overhaul.

pandemonium airThe game utilizes an on-screen D-pad and button touch controls for movement, jumping, and firing.  As is often the case with such arrangements on ported titles, the controls can be cumbersome.  It's easy to lose track of where your fingers are while attempting some of the complex acrobatics required to get from platform to platform.  The longer I played, however, the more comfortable I became with the controls.

While it's obviously not a game built with the iPhone's unique attributes in mind, I'm glad to see it ported to the platform.  In evaluating Pandemonium! for this post, I found it a hard game to put down -- some of that owing to nostalgia, of course, but it's actually a fun game to play.  I think those who can get behind the 2.5D play mechanic and don't mind D-pad controls, even without previous familiarity with the game, may find Pandemonium! to be a charming platform experience.

See our gameplay video (taken on a 2G iPod touch) for a look at the first few worlds.

[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

The game is being discussed in a forum thread where many familiar with the original are excited about the iPhone port.

PC users can download a somewhat aged demo of the game to try before buying (verified it runs on XP on down, not sure about Vista).

Game Details
Name: Pandemonium (v2.1.4) Price: $4.99 [Buy]
Developer: Electronic Arts
Size: 39.1 MB
Device: Tested on iPhone 3G, 2G iPod touch
Pandemonium is an iPhone port of Crystal Dynamics / Eidos' 1996 2.5D console platformer.  The visuals stand up well as a mobile title and it's a fun on-rails platform experience.  Being a console port, the game features on-screen D-pad controls which can be cumbersome and on devices other than the 2G iPod touch, occasional framerate issues appear.  Those wanting a nice looking run, jump, shoot, and stomp platformer may enjoy.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Kevin

    nice

  • Kevin

    nice

  • munkee

    can you please record the gameplay video on iPhone 3G?

  • http://deleted munkee

    can you please record the gameplay video on iPhone 3G?

  • Jim

    Looks good. It's not in the local App Store yet. I hope it shows up soon.

  • Jim

    Looks good. It's not in the local App Store yet. I hope it shows up soon.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

    I've been playing it on an 1st Gen iPhone, munkee, and the frame rate is not bad, though not quite as smooth as what's on the video. And I agree with Blake -- it's tough to put down, especially after you get comfortable with the controls.

    • munkee

      how would you compare it to Snail Mail's framerate (smooth)? or is it more like I love Katamari framerate (choppy)?

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

        I find Katamari nearly unplayable -- Pandemonium is nowhere near as choppy.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

    I've been playing it on an 1st Gen iPhone, munkee, and the frame rate is not bad, though not quite as smooth as what's on the video. And I agree with Blake -- it's tough to put down, especially after you get comfortable with the controls.

    • http://deleted munkee

      how would you compare it to Snail Mail's framerate (smooth)? or is it more like I love Katamari framerate (choppy)?

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

        I find Katamari nearly unplayable -- Pandemonium is nowhere near as choppy.

  • munkee

    Yes, I also couldn't play Katamari, it's just terrible. Framerate-wise, what 3D games would you compare it to? Sway? Ferrari GT? Space Bikers?

  • http://deleted munkee

    Yes, I also couldn't play Katamari, it's just terrible. Framerate-wise, what 3D games would you compare it to? Sway? Ferrari GT? Space Bikers?

  • spacecowgoesmoo

    Those CG people look kinda scary, major Kefka vibes from the guy on the right..

  • spacecowgoesmoo

    Those CG people look kinda scary, major Kefka vibes from the guy on the right..

  • rich_952000

    Ok, first off nice article Blake.

    @EA Mobile: aren't there better games you could be working on and trying to do it from the iDevice hardware as your basis and THEN a game concept/schematics that utilize the iDevice? I feel Spore worked "o.k." because of it's existing, unique playstyle, however lest we forget the shambles of rubbish that is SimCity. Btw, do you really think you should wring the money from these loyal gamers pockets for a decade old game that I could find at a local, trailer-park yard sale for a nickel? I could probably find a PS1 at said sale for 5$; soooo, for the same price as your charging, I'm headed to some garage sales,I expect to find junk there.

    Anyone w/Appsniper notice this game released for $.99 then moments later, lest EA make their $4.27 per copy, they hurriedly changed the price.

  • rich_952000

    Ok, first off nice article Blake.

    @EA Mobile: aren't there better games you could be working on and trying to do it from the iDevice hardware as your basis and THEN a game concept/schematics that utilize the iDevice? I feel Spore worked "o.k." because of it's existing, unique playstyle, however lest we forget the shambles of rubbish that is SimCity. Btw, do you really think you should wring the money from these loyal gamers pockets for a decade old game that I could find at a local, trailer-park yard sale for a nickel? I could probably find a PS1 at said sale for 5$; soooo, for the same price as your charging, I'm headed to some garage sales,I expect to find junk there.

    Anyone w/Appsniper notice this game released for $.99 then moments later, lest EA make their $4.27 per copy, they hurriedly changed the price.

  • rev

    This is great, i used to play Pandemonium a lot when i was a kid

  • rev

    This is great, i used to play Pandemonium a lot when i was a kid

  • Reaver

    I had this on my N-Gage, taco style.......looks the same

  • Reaver

    I had this on my N-Gage, taco style.......looks the same

  • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

    NOT in Germany! Sometimes, I hate this world...

  • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

    NOT in Germany! Sometimes, I hate this world...

  • marc

    @rich_952000
    took the words right out of my mouth.

    iphone 3g - now (well not actually 'now') with cut & paste and playstation one games!

    am i expecting too much? they can't make a NEW side scrolling game? new content people, not 'dusted off' content. i don't need every game i've ever played - 'now for iphone!'

    should we start calling them developers and start being called them porters? i say boycott. i'm tired of tired content. dragon's lair was great, but we don't need it again. come up with something new.

    • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

      Yeah, lets throw chess and Tetris over board.
      To hell with classics, to hell with childhood memories, to hell with the possiblity, that young people could explore great stuff from the past ;)

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

      Thanks marc and rich for setting me straight: I am not enjoying the heck out of playing Pandemonium, I am not impressed by the inventive environment and game play, and I don't think this is one of the best platformers currently available on my iPhone. No, it can't be, since someone (not me), somewhere, has already played this game on a different platform. Can't believe how misguided I was!

      [end sarcasm]

      Look, I see your point, but 1) there's been plenty of high-quality original content being released on the iPlatform (more than for, say, the PSP at the same age), and 2) to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "a good game is a good game is a good game." Just because you've played the game elsewhere and are sick of it already doesn't mean that somebody else can't enjoy it. It ain't all about you, my friends,,,

    • spiffyone

      Yes, let's expect companies to NOT re-release older games onto newer platforms because, y'know, it doesn't make ANY financial sense whatsoever to release a game in which the bulk of the work has already been done and the only investment needed is porting it over to new hardware. Nope. Shouldn't do that as a company because, y'know, companies aren't interested in making higher profit margins, and re-releases of older, already produced content doesn't facilitate such a thing. >_>

      Listen, I'd love new content from EA, and lo and behold they are giving us new content. But to expect NO re-releases is silly as it 1. Makes money, and 2. sells to both those in the mood for nostalgia as well as newer audiences with no experience in such classics. This is what the movie, television, music, and book publishing industry do ALL THE TIME: mix in new content while republishing older content so as to find new audiences and gain as much as possible out of a work. So why do we treat the game industry any different?

      I mean...it isn't like EA isn't giving us new, made for the iTouch/Phone content.

  • marc

    @rich_952000
    took the words right out of my mouth.

    iphone 3g - now (well not actually 'now') with cut & paste and playstation one games!

    am i expecting too much? they can't make a NEW side scrolling game? new content people, not 'dusted off' content. i don't need every game i've ever played - 'now for iphone!'

    should we start calling them developers and start being called them porters? i say boycott. i'm tired of tired content. dragon's lair was great, but we don't need it again. come up with something new.

    • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

      Yeah, lets throw chess and Tetris over board.
      To hell with classics, to hell with childhood memories, to hell with the possiblity, that young people could explore great stuff from the past ;)

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

      Thanks marc and rich for setting me straight: I am not enjoying the heck out of playing Pandemonium, I am not impressed by the inventive environment and game play, and I don't think this is one of the best platformers currently available on my iPhone. No, it can't be, since someone (not me), somewhere, has already played this game on a different platform. Can't believe how misguided I was!

      [end sarcasm]

      Look, I see your point, but 1) there's been plenty of high-quality original content being released on the iPlatform (more than for, say, the PSP at the same age), and 2) to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "a good game is a good game is a good game." Just because you've played the game elsewhere and are sick of it already doesn't mean that somebody else can't enjoy it. It ain't all about you, my friends,,,

    • spiffyone

      Yes, let's expect companies to NOT re-release older games onto newer platforms because, y'know, it doesn't make ANY financial sense whatsoever to release a game in which the bulk of the work has already been done and the only investment needed is porting it over to new hardware. Nope. Shouldn't do that as a company because, y'know, companies aren't interested in making higher profit margins, and re-releases of older, already produced content doesn't facilitate such a thing. >_>

      Listen, I'd love new content from EA, and lo and behold they are giving us new content. But to expect NO re-releases is silly as it 1. Makes money, and 2. sells to both those in the mood for nostalgia as well as newer audiences with no experience in such classics. This is what the movie, television, music, and book publishing industry do ALL THE TIME: mix in new content while republishing older content so as to find new audiences and gain as much as possible out of a work. So why do we treat the game industry any different?

      I mean...it isn't like EA isn't giving us new, made for the iTouch/Phone content.

  • hockyplaya

    By the way Lemonade Tycoon is back for any one who missed it! :)

  • hockyplaya

    By the way Lemonade Tycoon is back for any one who missed it! :)

  • marc

    ok, you win, i'll be over at popcap playing good 'old' peggle for free. enjoy the anticipation of it's small screen re-release.

    sorry i had an (original) opinion.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

      I have no interest in playing Peggle on my iPhone (or any handheld platform for that matter) because, like you, I don't think it would work on a small screen. Some ports work, some don't: I just don't think that a game is necessarily damned because it appeared a decade ago on the PS1. I never owned a PS1, don't plan on going to a trailer-park to buy one (and what, Rich, carry it on a little cart with a car battery so I can play it on the go?) As Blake mentions in his review, this one happens to look better on the iPlatform because the original had fairly coarse graphics that look much better when reduced.

      You're absolutely right that original games are the lifeblood of any platform, and you can bet that I've bought a lot of them. Still, the right port can be a great addition, as Galaxy on Fire (and, in my opinion, Pandemonium) proves.

  • marc

    ok, you win, i'll be over at popcap playing good 'old' peggle for free. enjoy the anticipation of it's small screen re-release.

    sorry i had an (original) opinion.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com Jose

      I have no interest in playing Peggle on my iPhone (or any handheld platform for that matter) because, like you, I don't think it would work on a small screen. Some ports work, some don't: I just don't think that a game is necessarily damned because it appeared a decade ago on the PS1. I never owned a PS1, don't plan on going to a trailer-park to buy one (and what, Rich, carry it on a little cart with a car battery so I can play it on the go?) As Blake mentions in his review, this one happens to look better on the iPlatform because the original had fairly coarse graphics that look much better when reduced.

      You're absolutely right that original games are the lifeblood of any platform, and you can bet that I've bought a lot of them. Still, the right port can be a great addition, as Galaxy on Fire (and, in my opinion, Pandemonium) proves.

  • Rowan

    I played this for the first time a year or two ago on an old PSX (Platstation 1) I was given. I've always loved platformers, 2D much more than 3D. This was a great game for me because it kept the simplicity of 2D movement but added a whole new dimension.

    When the AppStore launched, I emailed Sega pleading for 'Bug' their 3D platformer which was slower and probably more suited to the iDevices than Sonic.

    But Pandemonium is a great app for the iPhone, I can't wait till EA let me buy it, stupid EA blocking countries.

    Abuse is great, I'd like to see Abe's Odysee series, they'd be perfect on iPhone. Basic controls, and maybe use gestures a la Star Wars for envoking the voices & fart noises etc.

    Mario won't happen, Nintendo is concerned about these Apple devices enough as it is. They're in marketing meetings and brainstorming sessions, even considering developing a phone possibly...

    Sega Sonic series would be good, but I feel it would be let down too much by the controls.

    With OS 3.0 though, I'm sure people will make games hardware (analog pads etc) and I can't wait for that.

  • Rowan

    I played this for the first time a year or two ago on an old PSX (Platstation 1) I was given. I've always loved platformers, 2D much more than 3D. This was a great game for me because it kept the simplicity of 2D movement but added a whole new dimension.

    When the AppStore launched, I emailed Sega pleading for 'Bug' their 3D platformer which was slower and probably more suited to the iDevices than Sonic.

    But Pandemonium is a great app for the iPhone, I can't wait till EA let me buy it, stupid EA blocking countries.

    Abuse is great, I'd like to see Abe's Odysee series, they'd be perfect on iPhone. Basic controls, and maybe use gestures a la Star Wars for envoking the voices & fart noises etc.

    Mario won't happen, Nintendo is concerned about these Apple devices enough as it is. They're in marketing meetings and brainstorming sessions, even considering developing a phone possibly...

    Sega Sonic series would be good, but I feel it would be let down too much by the controls.

    With OS 3.0 though, I'm sure people will make games hardware (analog pads etc) and I can't wait for that.

  • Phil

    Is it in any international App Stores yet?

    • munkee

      no.

  • Phil

    Is it in any international App Stores yet?

    • http://deleted munkee

      no.

  • Victor

    now if only we could get namco to port klonoa to iphone... that would be killer.

  • Victor

    now if only we could get namco to port klonoa to iphone... that would be killer.

  • http://www.allaboutthegames.co.uk Peej

    Any idea when us steenkeen "yurpeans" get this?

    And +1 on what Victor said. Klonoa (2) on the iPhone would be bliss!

  • http://www.allaboutthegames.co.uk Peej

    Any idea when us steenkeen "yurpeans" get this?

    And +1 on what Victor said. Klonoa (2) on the iPhone would be bliss!

  • rich_952000

    OK, I have to retract some of my previous comments. I bought Pandemonium at the new $2.99 usd. This is probably the best platformer available on the App Store. Great visuals are the first thing you notice when playing. There is a great "wacky" back story with excellent playable characters. A wide variety of alternative paths guarantee replay value, for me.

    It's unfortunate that the controls are unresponsive at times because that is the only thing holding me back from calling this a "perfect port"! This still comes highly recommended from me. :D

    Side note; EA Mobile, I've been pretty pissed at the atrocious handling of bringing SimCity to the App Store. I am however, after such a nice sale on Pandemonium, ending my hard feelings toward your company :)

  • rich_952000

    OK, I have to retract some of my previous comments. I bought Pandemonium at the new $2.99 usd. This is probably the best platformer available on the App Store. Great visuals are the first thing you notice when playing. There is a great "wacky" back story with excellent playable characters. A wide variety of alternative paths guarantee replay value, for me.

    It's unfortunate that the controls are unresponsive at times because that is the only thing holding me back from calling this a "perfect port"! This still comes highly recommended from me. :D

    Side note; EA Mobile, I've been pretty pissed at the atrocious handling of bringing SimCity to the App Store. I am however, after such a nice sale on Pandemonium, ending my hard feelings toward your company :)

  • Tony

    Is pandemonium EVER going to be available in the uk?

  • Tony

    Is pandemonium EVER going to be available in the uk?

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