Do you remember playing those “educational” PC point-and-click adventure games as a kid? Remember messing around clicking on background objects to see silly animations? Well, imagine those animations taken to the extreme and you have a basic idea of what Panic! is all about
Developed in-house by Sega and released on the Sega CD in 1994, Panic! (known as SWITCH in Japan) is a game in the loosest sense of the word. The premise is that a virus has infected all the machines in the world causing them to behave in strange and bizarre ways. You have been given an antidote and must find your way to a central computer in order to return the world’s machines back to proper working order.
The gameplay is where one begins to doubt whether this could truly be considered a game. You see, as soon as you begin the game, you are presented with some machine and a set of buttons. These buttons are your only means of navigating through the game as certain buttons can teleport you to another area either allowing you to progress or sending you back to a previously visited location. However, not all buttons actually teleport you somewhere, instead, most buttons will trigger a wacky animation (usually some slapstick involving the protagonist character or his dog, coincidentally named Slap and Stick respectively) before allowing you to pick another button with no penalty. These buttons are not labelled in any meaningful way for first time players meaning your first playthrough will mostly be trial and error.
Despite it’s title as a video game being debatable, Panic! is a unique experience worth trying especially with a group of friends. The game was also released on PS2 in Japan for those looking to play this game without having to buy a hard to find Sega Genesis add-on. Give Panic! a try if you have the chance!