Doujin games usually take an existing classic game formula and transform it in some way. Some stick to the original only changing the visuals, while others introduce new mechanics and try to innovate on the classic game entirely. Today I bring you a review of an old doujin game called Mimizu Panzer or just Mimipan for short.
Mimizu Panzer takes the classic game of snake and turns it on its head. For those of you that have never played snake (and probably lived on a deserted island) the goal is pretty simple, you control the snake and gobble up any objects on the screen in order to gain points. If the snakes head touches its tail or a wall you lose. The game becomes progressively difficult because every object you eat increases your tail’s length.
In Mimizu Panzer you drive a snake like tank train, but instead of eating enemies you must shoot them down. As in snake, destroying an enemy grows your tank’s tail section by one. But unlike snake, enemies don’t just sit still and wait for you to kill them. The majority of enemies are turrets that fire in your direction. One hit in the head section kills you, therefore you cannot just rush and shoot the enemy directly but instead you must constantly dodge the incoming shots.
Since the only weak point of your snake tank is the head, you can use the tail to make a defensive wall and block incoming fire. Alternatively, you can use your tail to divide the stage so that you can take the enemies out one by one. Since the later levels can be so cluttered with bullets and your tank train isn’t really the most nimble vehicle, using your tail is a must.
On the other hand your tail can also be your worst enemy. Having a too long tail means you have to constantly manage your free space, while watching out for bullets. I can’t tell you the number of times I ran out of space since I blocked myself up into a corner while I was dodging enemy fire. Losing a life cuts the number of tail segments in half. This means it can either make the current level a bit easier, or a lot harder.
The game utilizes two buttons. The first button is the primary shot, which is pretty weak, but it can take down the first type of turrets without too much pain. The second button is self-destruct, for which I don’t see much use than dying with honor. Shooting at larger turrets is a death wish, since it takes forever. This is where Mimizu Panzer introduces another cool concept. You might have noticed by the screenshots that some of the tail segments have a socket. If these tail segments are hit by enemy fire they will start to glow. Shooting these glowing segments launches a huge burst of fire capable of clearing a large number of turrets. This further encourages you to use your tail segments for defense. Additionally using tail fire also gives you bonus points depending on the amount of tail segments you currently have.
The game boasts a number of enemy types, bringing in a new turret every few levels and each require a radically different approach for destroying. Bigger turret types fires less frequently, but when they do they fire a barrage of bullets making dodging a nightmare. They also require 3 fire shots from your tail fire to take down. There are also non stationary enemy types such as airplanes making defense even harder, since they can fly over you. Mimizu Panzer also features boss battles. One such level has you facing off a giant helicopter. This is quite an interesting idea since it’s the first time I heard of a boss stage within a snake like game.
The game can get brutally difficult at times. The later levels will give you nightmares from the relentless difficulty. It’s very easy to die if your tail becomes too long, which in return leaves you with half of your tail length. Once you lose three lives it’s game over. You can continue from the level you left off, but only with the tail length you had in your last play, meaning it’s very easy to be left with one tail segment and no way to survive, forcing you to play through the entire game again.
Mimizu Panzer has a simple story, with a few text bubbles every 10 or so levels. The game also has a replay option, allowing you to record your runs, as well as see demo replays of levels you are probably never going to get to.
From an aesthetic stand point the game has a pretty upbeat style. Fire and explosion craters are superbly done. The background is a tad bit simple and could use more frequent changes, but at the same time it allows you to focus on the important thing at hand, dodging incoming fire. The game can get so chaotic that it’s hard to know whether or not you are still alive, so it’s understandable why the background is so simple.
Mimizu Panzer is a fun snake clone. It tries to change the classic gameplay, which makes it a breath of fresh air. At the same time the later levels test not only your skill but also patience. If you like bullet hell games and enjoy seeing classic games with a twist Mimizu Panzer is a great game.