REVIEW: Parkza

I’ve always been a bit of a night person. Part of that is my work schedule, but another side is more personal; I think the Sun is kind of a dick to People, and I refuse to support its policies any more than I already have to. Yeah, it’s responsible for all life as we know it, and it does a good job of keeping us warm, but let’s look at the flipside.

For one, too much of it isn’t a good thing. Ever heard of skin cancer? Dry farmland? The bastard doesn’t care. It’s indiscriminate with its rays. Also, let’s not forget that its supposedly ‘all-powerful’ abilities are finite. One day (granted, that’s going to be billions of years from now), it’s going to start dying and get really fat, scorching our surface and eventually swallowing us up. Does that sound like a friend to you? And if you need more evidence, the Sun will also steal your girlfriend. Yeah. Such is the story behind Parkza ($1.00).

Parkza - Screen

Based on retro hits like Buster Bros. (or Pang, to non-U.S. readers) and Oops Up!, Parkza drops the whole ‘world under siege by giant balls’ routine and tries to make it a more human. So yeah, the Sun— or Suns, as it were— take your girl right in the middle of a lovely picnic, and you’re tasked with getting her back.  How are you going to do that? By shooting a bunch of bouncing Suns and breaking them down into tinier pieces, all while avoiding getting hit by them, of course.

You know that’s going to be easier said than done, and using a harpoon gun (…I’m …I’m assuming that’s what it is) that only fires straight up seems like it would be ineffective. Still, it gets the job done, albeit in a roundabout way, as the game’s core theme is that of subtraction. Larger suns will split into smaller suns, making harder (and more numerous) targets. Naturally, your harpoon gun(?) works on a delay, with you unable to fire again until you’ve hit a target or it strikes the stage’s ceiling. Lucky for you, suns break apart with direct or indirect hits, allowing some breathing room for bad aim.

A lot like Space Invaders, levels typically have obstructions that you must fire past or otherwise work around. Some of these barriers wear away as you fire at them, but you’ll also be required to climb / jump over other platforms, both in an effort to chase down enemies and avoid a traffic jam of miniature suns. To aid you in your quest, there’s a host of powerups (none of them explained; you’ll learn on the job) that will occasionally drop from split enemies. And you will need them. With ‘one-hit death’ rules firmly in place, you’ll have to hope for a spare shield and do a fair amount of retro parkour.

Parkza - Screen2

Though that brand of light platforming and heavier difficulty makes Parkza show its age, and it won’t be pretty. Save for the local co-op (or up to four in a ‘Deathmatch’ mode), which might help lessen the burden, you’ll be relying purely on your skill and expert timing to match the game’s tougher (I would say unforgiving) later rounds and still beat the clock. Worse, you’ll have to play a perfect run— without dying— in each hub world in order to continue from that point on after death, upping the potential frustration.

In the case of Parkza, that frustration might be more trouble than its worth. As a homage to the previously-mentioned titles above, it’s the ideal substitute for those raised on old school difficulty and studied perfection, without the hassle of emulators. But for those hoping for a retro idea with a more modern feel, you should look elsewhere.

34 thoughts on “REVIEW: Parkza”

  1. Never heard of those games you mentioned in the review. Not that I played every single game in the 80’s and 90’s but always thought I was well informed back in the day. How wrong I was.

    And I don’t wanna sound pessimistic, but we’re doomed long before the sun will swallow earth because the sun is getting hotter and hotter every year, and at some point it will start to evaporate our oceans, so instead of 5-7 billion years we only got about 2 billion years left. Damn, and there’s still so many things I wanted to do. Hope I didn’t spread any panic now.

    1. I hadn’t really heard of them either, only Buster Bros. in name, although my experience with gaming really started with the ColecoVision, then Atari, then the NES, so on and so forth. Never touched anything Amiga, and you guys definitely have one over on me when it comes to ‘early to present PC’ stuff.

      Two billion years, you say!? Great, now I’ll have to stop at the store on my way home tomorrow, buy up all the batteries and canned goods!

      Assuming we won’t have wiped ourselves out long before that point (now that’s being a pessimist), sucks to be alive 2 billion years from now! Should be one hell of a view from a few galaxies over, though.

    2. Seriously, is mankind getting dumber each year? I was trying to get some information about our sun passing through the galactic plane, and the first four pages in Google were full of entries like “OMG Earth passing through galactic plane on 21. Dec. 2012” “Doomsday” “The end is near blabla…” Oh ffs. Remember some years ago when people claimed that we are getting smarter because more and more of us will have internet access? Sure.

      And Wikipedia bloody scares me. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the idea behind it but I would never use it as a source. But the problem is that we are not only getting dumber, but also lazier, and people can’t even be asked to go to the second page or just simply scroll down while they’re using a search engine. So what do they do? They click on the first link they see. And it doesn’t matter what you’re searching for, the first entry (or at least one of the first three) is always Wikipedia (at least in Google). And how many times did you read and article and at the end it says Source: Wikipedia. I mean it’s written by anonymous users where you can’t be sure if he / she knows what he / she is talking about.
      And it really seems that more and more people accept everything on there as fact. (Yeah but Wikipedia sez…)

      Ok, rant mode off.

      One more thing: Watched an LP on Youtube last night. One of the comments: Wat game is thiz?!?2!1!

      Ok, one last thing: Had a ColecoVision too, great console.

    3. Guess I shouldn’t link to Wikipedia anymore when I’m referencing a game outside of XBLIG? 😀

      I get what you’re saying. I’ve seen all that you mentioned and then some. Makes me glad I ‘write’ reviews instead of doing LPs on YouTube. Even the Instagram thing, which I only occasionally use, I’ve had someone comment asking what game it is, even though I very clearly put it in the description. You forget, sir, that we live in a connected age, instant gratification and short attention spans. We need to be entertained, we need funny cat videos, and we need them NOW! No waiting, no bullshit boring stuff, and certainly no enlightenment or educational crap. Done with one thing and on to the next!

    4. Oh man, now I sound like someone who absolutely despises Wikipedia, but I do not. Gee, a lot of times I end up reading stuff on there because there are interesting articles, not doubt about it, but I read them for the sake of reading something, or to get an overview over a certain topic. And I’m not against linking to Wikipedia in articles, because no one forces me to click on them, and sometimes I do end up clicking on said links.

      And I gave up on Youtube comments a looong time ago because, let’s face it, they are the worst of the worst. And I’m not only talking about trolls, haters and all that scum, but also annoying stuff like “blabla sent me here”, “thumbs up if you like”, “SONG?” and whatnot.
      Last year, for instance, I was watching a documentary on Youtube about racism in football (or soccer how you guys call it) and guess what? The whole comment section was full of racist comments, the worst I’ve ever seen.

      Oh no, I’m in rant mode again. Anyway, I think you’re right about the short attention span nowadays. Forgot about the fact that we currently live in a world where adults can act like children on Twitter, post thoughtful one-liners (This / +1 / Agreed) or upload selfies (seriously, who on earth came up with that stupid word?).

      Sorry about that wall of text (again), I normally don’t rant, especially not about unimportant stuff like that, because there’s more important things in life than Wikipedia, Youtube or Twitter.

    5. First! 😎

      … … Sorry, had to do it. That’s a YouTube classic right there!

      Well, at least we’re in agreement on ‘YouTube comments’ and ‘selfies’. Speaking of those, I don’t remember the exact title of the article, or which celebrity they were talking about, but Yahoo! had a ‘news’ story on its front page a few months back that was something along the lines of ‘Check Out So-and-So’s Adorable Selfie’, and I distinctly remember thinking This is it. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a selfie. (T.S. Eliot won’t mind me hijacking that line, I hope.) Talk about the world having bigger fish to fry than worrying about celebrity selfies.

      Although, wouldn’t my profile picture be a selfie then? Or do I have to be making duck lips and / or holding my fingers up in the peace sign? Or the old iPhone in front of the mirror trick? If so, then I am proud to say I have never taken a ‘selfie’ in my life. (EDIT: Okay, once. But it was for a joke.)

      Also, before you go off on us Yanks about ‘Soccer’, I did my research for a review last winter, and I found out you guys did that to yourselves. So you can go ahead and point that accusatory finger right back at yourself, sir!

      And, just because it’s too hilarious not to include it, also on…. Wikipedia!

    6. First”
      Ah, the classic, forgot that one 😀 And using *selfies
      (brrr) as avatars is cool, I used to use one too.

      But no sir, I wasn’t having a go at you regarding Soccer, I just used that word to distinguish Association football from American football to avoid confusion. It’s all good 🙂

    7. (looks back at comment) Ah, yes, indeed, you weren’t threatening us over our use of ‘soccer’. My apologies. I entered ‘Hulk Smash’ mode without provocation. It’s cool, big guy, it’s cool…. think of flowers… think of cute bunny rabbits…. cool…. (whew)

    1. Yes way. Or frown-ie faces, if the mood so hits you. And its retroactive, too, so there’s smiles all over the previous conversations now1. I’m not even sure of all the possible combinations, either (never took Emoticons 101 in school).

      Blame Soosh if you don’t like them. He’s got them activated on his site, so I figured, ‘Why not?’ Of course, if they’re just too adorable to look at, I can always disable them again. 😛

      1. It’s like an invasion of Shiny Happy People, not holding hands. 
    2. @Saansilt: That comment is hilarious, like comment of the day.
      Did you intend to use a sad face or is it just a typo? 😀

      @Tim: Yeah, common then, just blame it on me, that’s alright.
      But personally I think it’s ok to have them, as long as people use them sparingly and not in every sentence.

      PS Oh, an R.E.M. reference. Just listened to 80’s R.E.M. the other day while playing Cataclysm DDA. Their 80’s and early 90’s stuff is great, everything after Automatic For The People is kinda meh.

    3. @Soosh: Agreed. Judging by the amount of them over the site now, directly caused by me, no less, guess I should be a little more frugal when it comes to smiles…. (see, just caught myself there).

      Also agreed on R.E.M., which is another barometer for old, if you think about it. Anyone under the age of 24 likely didn’t get the reference. Actually haven’t heard that song in years, but it struck me immediately with all the emoticons.

    4. common = come on. Damn, I hate typos. 😡

      But don’t worry 😀 we’re all mature people on here 😎 and I doubt that anyone will abuse these emotic… emetic… emitoc… smilies 😕

      Sorry Tim, won’t do it again 😦 ……… ❗

  2. 3 codes!!! I’m late as always, but still this is not my cup of boob. To bad there were only one for Shutshumi, I dont know about you, but when I get points I usually get more than I need to spend, then I spend it all and when another one dollar game I want arrives the story repeat itself. Stripper and indies are a cheap blind way to bankruptcy, as one dollar becomes a hundred. Let me tell you something Tim, you can call me ignorant, but there’s was a time when I though that indie was something like retro. It was because most of the game that were released were like this. Then of course I discover what was the true meaning of indies. And now XBLIG is a way for kids in their early teens to watch porn legally. I can appreciate when some ppl do some homage to old games, but I’m glad there are other that innovate from time to time. I know they are some ppl that still think like I though before, seeing a game on xbox live indie is not the same as XBOX LIVE ARCADEEEE!!!!!! . I dont think we will see cheap game like this in the next gen, or at least I have not seen any. Is like those cheap Flash style games are leaving the consoles. Sometimes a 40 minutes platformer is good for the heart.

    1. Yep, you were just a little late. Will be doing a review for Servo Series I in the next few days, so you’ll get another three chances then. 🙂

      Eh, everyone’s got access to the internet these days, so those kids are going to see boobs one way or the other. Pretty sure like 90% of the content on the internet is boobs, then various percentages of other stuff. XBLIG boobs would probably amount to 0.0015% of the total boob output of the planet, per year.

      I kinda depend on cheaper titles for reviews, though. If I were to exclusively cover the bigger indies that are now starting to appear, I’d be bankrupt too. I just put credit on my Xbox account, then I bought Nutjitsu and Super Time Force. There’s $22. I will be reviewing both, but I legitimately wanted to play them anyway. Now Supergiant’s Transistor comes out next week, so that’s another $15. Oh, and then there’s Watch_Dogs the following week, so that’s $60. Basically $100 by the end of the month, along with any XBLIGs I buy. Gaming ain’t cheap, and neither is being a reviewer these days, it seems.

      No stripper money for awhile. 😦

  3. Oh lol, the main reason i made Parkza where to be able to play a Pang-like on my xbox without the loading times of an emulator, and now i find out that Avatar Panic does that since 3 years. That could have saved me a lot of coding and ms-painting and milkytracking 🙂 Gotta try it out as soon as i got time. From the screenshots i see that atleast the gfx are better 🙂

    1. You and me both. 🙂 I thought the game was obscure enough that it wouldn’t have a direct cousin on XBLIG. Shows how much I know. Also proves the point once again that whenever you think you’ve got an idea or remake that no one else has thought of… it’s been thought of.

    2. Pang and it’s sequel Super Pang (or Thooper Pang according to the terrible digital voice that played whenever you put a token in the machine) were big favourites of mine back in the arcade days. They’re the kind of game that I always hope there will be a version of them on any gaming system. So if you thought there wasn’t one available on the service, then you were doing a … um … service by putting one on there. I’ll make sure to give it a go soon.

    3. Now i actually tried Avatar Panic and i honestly feel a bit better, Although Avatar Panic is more advanced i enjoy Parkza more 🙂 Something about the gameplay in Avatar Panic feels off to me. Probably because i played through Parkza atleast 10 times from start to finish, but still, i have peace at heart 🙂

    4. Yeah, going off the trailer, it seems like the two games would have very different playing styles. You should be safe in that regard. 🙂

  4. Many thanks for the code! If you want to go even further back in time try out xlblig Manic Miner. A quality official remake of of the original spectrum platformer from about 1982 or thereabouts. Now that is a punisher platformer!

    1. That looks thoroughly retro indeed! Don’t like the mention of ‘punisher’ in that one, but a lot of those game were pretty hard. And meant to be so. Guess I got soft somewhere along the way of growing up…

    1. Yeah, that was a gap in my XBLIG knowledge that ‘skaipio’ pointed out to me. I’ll have to play it to see how the theory stands up, but I think that’ll probably be more along the lines of what I’d like in a retro remake.

      Oh, and I’ll mail the code to you shortly. 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t mind receiving a code. Really loved playing Pang! with my best friend on the good old Amiga. This take on the formula doesn’t look quite as elaborate as Milkstone’s version but I would like to check it out anyway.

    1. I’ll send a code your way shortly. So, Milkstone put out a version of Pang on XBLIG? What’s the name of it? Color me curious.

    2. Thanks, Tim! Milkstone’s game is called Avatar Panic, I’m surprised this excellent title seems to have slipped your attention.

    3. Ah, thanks for that! Looks like it came out a little bit before I started getting into XBLIGs. Just checked out the trailer, and that does seem to fit the modern remake of the game that I’d probably prefer. Will have to download that and give it a try.

  6. Thanks to the very generous developer, Martin Eriksen, I’ve got THREE codes for Parkza to give away. Simply reply to this comment if you’re interested.

    1. Would love a code please, I predate the game this is based on by quite a few years! I’ll still be rubbish at it mind…

    2. Code is yours! Age might be a plus in playing this one then. I had never played a game of this exact type previously, so you could be better equipped to handle the difficulty. 🙂

      FYI, for those keeping score at home, I’ve still got ONE code left.

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