Martian Panic – PC Review

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Run! NYX Digital Ltd has sent Martians to invade us with help from Funbox Media Ltd. They’ll be arriving June 30th this year! Luckily we can fight back in Martian Panic, an arcade shooter. It’ll be available on Steam for those who love rail shooters.

Get off my planet!

I don’t play a lot of rail shooters, and the last one I could recall playing was Silent Hill; I must have wasted a good few tokens on that. I thought I would try and give the rail shooter genre another go and thought Martian Panic would be a good start. The visuals looked fun, and the characters seemed whacky. Let me know in the comment below what rail shooters you would recommend.  

A Martian is drinking a Zapp-o-Cola which is one of the items in the game that provide health. The Tv on the left is meant to show that the character I talking.
Taking over Earth is thirsty work.

Gameplay

There are several characters for players to choose from, such as the travelling salesman or a teenage girl who is secretly an alien in disguise. These are just for audio, as no character gains any advantage in-game. Players will get to see the origin stories of the characters as the game progress, my favourite being the Housewife since she wants revenge for the Martians destroying her rose garden.

Martians being carefree in a park. This is shown in one of the comic strips.
Maybe the Martians aren’t that bad… right?

Players will fight through eight levels that range from a drive-in movie theatre, a diner or the big city. The gameplay has the player using a cursor to hover over Martians, then right-click to fire. Once the ammo in the gun has run out, it will automatically reload. However, letting it auto-reload will be slower, so it’s better to perform a manual one by pressing “R”.

Protecting Earth and saving citizens.

Obtain power-ups by saving citizens who’re running from aliens. Be cautious, as some citizens will crouch and then randomly stand up. I found this annoying when they would cover an enemy I was about to shoot. Find other power-ups by destroying specific objects in the level. For example, a chest that might have a lock on it or a black BBQ. The power-ups in Martian Panic give either food for healing or a new weapon for taking out enemies.

We're currently in a drive in theatre and shown is a gun power up.
Time to up my fire power.

The guns can vary from a shotgun, which I wished did a better spread shot. To the powerful electrical rifle that can deal with sweeps of enemies in one to two hits. Only two weapons are allowed, and when ammo runs out, players will drop them. I found most weapons the player can get quite useless, except for the electrical rifle, as it lets you hit multiple enemies with one shot.

What Martians are there?

At the beginning of Martian Panic, most of the enemies players face are the small green Martians and some drones. Later larger variants that look like potatoes will appear and charge at you. Some enemies throw projectiles at the player, I assumed I could shoot these to defend myself, but this wasn’t the case, and I found myself dying a lot. Not all enemies will attack. Some will try to abduct civilians and require the player to shoot them down to earn bonus points and potential power-ups. 

A flying saucer abducting one of the citizens found in the level. In the background loads of ammo crate which are only cosmetic are scattered around.
Well there goes Tom.

There are two boss fights in the game, which I found a bit lacklustre. One is a giant octopus on a skyscraper and the final boss. As mentioned above, you can’t destroy flying projectiles, and some enemies are literal bullet sponges even on the lowest difficulty. I did have one bug where the enemies wouldn’t spawn, as one had gotten stuck in the background. Luckily enough, I managed to kill him and continue.

Graphics & Audio

The better part for me in Martian Panic was the voices. The voice acting was great and each character hit the mark. They really sold their roles of who they were playing well. The sound effects, however, could do with some polish though. Since most of the time, I couldn’t hear them, or they wouldn’t play at all.

The Martian Overlord has capture on of the military missiles and plans to destroy the base.
Not on my watch pal.

Character designs were fun and wacky, and there was no shortage of bright colours (and a lot of green!). The overall aesthetic gives off a nostalgic, cartoony 2000’s era vibe. The dialogue reminded me of Invader Zim or Cow & Chicken.

Longevity

There are three difficulties to choose from in Martian Panic. Each level has the same challenges for players to finish for more longevity. For example, don’t kill civilians, try to get lower than 50% damage done to environments (that means don’t destroy stuff to find power-ups) and earn a high score. You can finish challenges on any difficulty, so there isn’t much incentive to play on harder ones since there are no rewards to unlock either.

Final Thoughts

Martian Panic was okay for what it is. For someone like myself who doesn’t play many rail shooters, it was easy to pick up and play. The dialogue was fun, and the visuals were enjoyable. I wish there were some unlockable art or modes to toggle on and off. For example, a classic black and white filter or unlimited ammo for power-up guns. If you’re looking for casual fun or simply to check out the rail shooter genre, then pick this up.

I give Martian Panic the Thumb Cultures Silver Award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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About Author

I've loved gaming ever since I was a kid. I always found myself diving into new games and getting lost in the many different worlds. I would say Ratchet & Clank 2 is my all time favourite game. I cannot wait to see what the future of gaming has in store.

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