DEVELOPER: Japan System House
RELEASE DATE: 06/21/91 – (JP), 11/1991 – (EU)
Reviewing every game ever released for a Sega console in chronological order, while ridiculous, has revealed some fascinating insights. For example, every Game Gear game released from late April to late May 1991 is a straight banger. Five games – The GG Shinobi, Shikinjou, Slider, Mappy, and Solitaire Poker – that are all well-made titles and perfect handheld experiences. Easy enough to pick up and play for a few minutes, but with enough content to satisfy longer play sessions – provided your AA battery reserve holds steady.
Factory Panic wants to join the esteemed “Banger Game Club” (working title). Skipping and holding hands with Shikinjou and Slider, tossing candy with Mappy and Shinobi, trying to impress Solitaire Poker with its knowledge of underworld gambling. It all sounds so wonderful. Problem is, Factory Panic – with its endless scrambling, yelling, and ravenous security guards – is an overexcited boy in a serious man’s world. Or, in other words, it needs a timeout.
In Factory Panic, you control Gorby, a portly adolescent who has a penchant for sneaking into off-limits areas. Once there, he evades security guards and shifts goods like meat, bread, and medicine on conveyor belts to various people via switches and bridges. No, Gorby’s not stealing. Seems the factories are owned by a evil tycoon who’s redirecting these necessities away from the townspeople of Segaville (brilliant) and towards his own selfish gain.
Each of the four rounds have eight stages, with rounds one and three consisting of “switch” stages and rounds two and four comprised of “bridge” stages. Each stage, regardless of type, has a different layout, with conveyor belts of stuff moving throughout the factory. In the switch stages, Gorby steps on and off the switches to change the belt’s direction and move the goods to the correct person. In the bridge stages, Gorby dismantles and reconstructs bridges to, again, help the goods reach their proper destination.
In the first and third rounds, Gorby only helps one person at a time. Mrs. Peabody just needs some meat, Gorby gets it to her, he’s a hero, etc. In rounds two and four, however, everyone wants a piece. Pierre needs his medicine, Grandpa Tataglia wants some fresh bread, and Little Hughie must have a Game Gear (yes really) – all at the same time. Gorby then hustles around the factory, slingin’ bridge pieces with supreme skill, proving that he is the best boy in all of Segaville.
Proper steaks, meds, gaming handhelds, and glutinous loaves are all on the belts, but so too are other incorrect items. If, say, you give Hughie an actual gear instead of a Game Gear or Gramps Tataglia moldy bread, they’ll make a sour face and you’ll lose 100 seconds off of your time. Thankfully, helpful items – like weights that hold switches down or guitars that temporarily paralyze security guards – are also present on the belts.
While Gorby’s busy saving all the Segavillians, he must also contend with various security guards. These punks do not care that Gorby’s a child and they will pummel him into the cold concrete. Gorby’s lone defense is a shrill yell that thrusts the guards backwards and dizzies them up for a bit. Spamming this yell is the only way to go, as the guards never stop coming after you, regardless of where you’re at in the level.
Factory Panic provides a certain chaos that I do not appreciate in my arcade/puzzle titles. Figuring out if this switch redirects that conveyor belt to the correct direction while avoiding the security guards just isn’t enjoyable. The bridge stages are even worse, with a significant amount of trial and error needed to determine where the bridge pieces should go. It’s all doable, of course, and the more you experiment, the more you get the hang of the concepts. Still, I always felt anxious while I was trying to accomplish everything, and anxiety is not why I play games. I feel for Gorby and the citizens of Segaville, but this is one battle they’ll have to fight on their own.
Your Banger Game Club membership has been declined.