A playthrough of Hakuhodo’s 1997 Halloween-themed rollercoaster action/shooter game for the Sony PlayStation, Mad Panic Coaster (マッドパニックコスター).
Mad Panic Coaster was a Japanese-exclusive title, but the game is entirely in English.
The entire game, as many reviewers noted, resembles the mine-cart stages from any number of 3D platformers of the era. Scenery flies by at breakneck speeds as you try to both avoid enemies and keep yourself from falling off the track.
You play as a boy and girl (a junior high couple, I guess?) who are apparently stuck in an amusement park and are subjected to some of the most colorful, cartoon-style creppy-variety tracks out there, including destroyed cityscapes, haunted houses, and temples, among others. These tracks don’t have any rails, and are littered with immovable obstacles and some gross-looking creatures that do their utmost to knock you off. Some stages have branching paths, and every third stage features a boss that you have to wipe out before being allowed to continue.
The main draw of Mad Coaster Panic, and what makes it as fun as it is, is the sheer sense of speed it conveys. Thankfully there is a brake, but it’s still quite easy to fall if you aren’t paying careful attention. The scenery and the creatures also do their utmost to distract you from the task at hand – there is a lot of detail to take in. While it’s not terribly pretty in still-shots, it’s impressive in motion – you’ll rarely notice the heavy pixelization because nothing stays still long enough to really focus on, and it’s all quite smooth without any hitching, stuttering, or slowdown whatsoever. The tracks are done with polygons while everything else uses scaling sprites, and it feels strikingly similar in many ways to Sega’s old superscalar arcade titles. The spritework is exceptionally good – there’s little you could call mundane about the presentation here.
Apparently the game was marketed as a vehicle to showcase the music of Mad Panic Coaster, a 90s Japanese pop-punk band, and the soundtrack is pretty catchy in that loud, grungy, melodic kind of way that 90s radio seemed to love so much. It’s catchy and fun to listen to. Also, the tracks are in Redbook format, so if you really like the soundtrack, you can play it back on any standard CD player.
The gameplay is thankfully pretty simple. You can jump, brake, steer, and shoot at three distances to hit the creepy things flying alking the track. It’s a lot like Pepsiman in how demanding and hectic it can get, but it’s pretty easy to get used to, and the tracks are short enough to not become dull or repetitive.
Mad Panic Coaster is simple and fast fun, and carries a nice, light Halloween theme that’s pretty ideal for the kiddies that might be too young for the PS1’s more adult-oriented offerings.
It’s an obscure and hard to find game, but it’s an excellent arcade-style experience.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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