Review – Panic Porcupine (PS4)

Super Meat Boy kickstarted a subgenre of platforming games which were both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it laid the groundwork for talented developers to come up with their own takes on super challenging, one-hit-kill, instant revive platformers, with Celeste being a notable example. Also a curse, because a lot of Meat Boy clones showed up with little to no regard for quality control or good level design. If the latter isn’t present, the game goes from gem in the making to an utter disaster in an instant. One thing all of those games had in common, however, was the fact they were basically set in static screens for the most part. Very rarely would you ever see a game like this feature sprawling, fast-paced levels. One of the rare exceptions is Panic Porcupine, a very risky take on the genre.

Panic Porcupine Gameplay

Sonic meets Meat Boy. Couldn’t have been more specific.

Panic Porcupine is a very easy game to summarize. It’s Sonic the Hedgehog meets Super Meat Boy. Oddly enough, despite the premise, this mixture felt somewhat natural. Think about it: Sonic games are somewhat punitive with their traps and jumping sections. If you don’t have a ring with you, you’re dead. Panic Porcupine is basically a Sonic game with no rings, and infinite lives.

It’s hard not to constantly compare it to Sonic in any way. The game just oozes the look, feel, and vibe of its main source of inspiration. Hell, even what little this game considers to be its plot is basically tied to Sonic, albeit without ever properly mentioning his name. Some guy, who’s not exactly Eggman, decides to wreak havoc in a land full of animals by capturing them and turning them into robots. Sonic was supposed to help out, but he’s busy shooting a movie in Hollywood. As a result, Panic Porcupine’s psychiatrist decides to enlist him to save the day for some reason. The only power-up at your disposal is a mysterious item that grants you infinite lives. That’s all the plot you’re getting, and it’s way more than I was expecting from a game like this.

Panic Porcupine Sanguine Pangolin

See the reference?

I commend the game for not being insanely brutal from the get-go. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Despite being fast-paced as all hell, Panic Porcupine takes its time teaching you all of its mechanics with an impressive degree of patience. Each level in its first world, as well as a handful of others in its second, introduce you to different mechanics and kinds of traps. Things you are already used to if you have ever played a 2D Sonic game, mind you. Once things get going, however, the game becomes nuts. It becomes the infuriating hell on earth that will please a few and irritate many.

It does this well enough, despite requiring some occasional leaps of faith and precise jumps that are nigh impossible to perform in your first run. I guess this is what Panic Porcupine does to convince you to revisit older levels, but I feel like this was a bit cheap. Then again, if you decide to pick it up, you are either a Sonic fan used to some occasionally obtuse level design or a Super Meat Boy fan used to replaying levels five hundred times before being able to beat them, so I guess that won’t be the biggest of issues for the target demographic.

The game achieves this all while bombarding players with some blissfully nostalgic presentation. If it wasn’t for the high resolution and the screen ratio, I firmly believe Panic Porcupine could have been mistaken for a Mega Drive game. It looks like an older Sonic game (albeit a bit more deranged), and its sound design doesn’t shy away from the older soundchips from the 16-bit era. I particularly grew fond of the ultra-catchy level completion tune, even though I would also be lambasted by being reminded of all collectibles I missed out throughout the level, Crash Bandicoot-style.

Panic Porcupine Bosses

An epic battle against a legally distinct Eggman wannabe.

Even if some of its levels felt poorly designed, I ended up enjoying Panic Porcupine quite a lot. From its silly premise (never thought I’d give a crap about this game’s plot, but here we are), sublime presentation, and somewhat fair initial difficulty curve, the game did a great job at mixing the gameplay styles from both Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Meat Boy in a cohesive and enjoyable way. There’s little else that needs to be said about it: if you’re into either franchises, Panic Porcupine is a no-brainer.


Graphics: 7.5

If it wasn’t for the resolution and screen ratio, Panic Porcupine could have easily been mistaken for a legit Mega Drive game.

Gameplay: 8.0

Simple, Sonic-like controls that fit perfectly within a Meat Boy-esque gauntlet. With that being said, some levels feel poorly designed.

Sound: 8.0

Sounds exactly like a 16-bit game should, complete with low-quality voice clips to give that retro credibility. The level completion jingle ended up being my favorite.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Despite the occasional obtuse level or jumping section, the game did a great job at mixing the gameplay styles from both Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Meat Boy in a cohesive and enjoyable way.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Panic Porcupine is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Panic Porcupine was provided by the publisher.