Lay off the LSD!
Pandemonium 2 is the psychedelic follow-up to 96's Pandemonium, and no, it's not just new levels. Pandemonium 2 adds new moves to its main characters, Fargus and Nikki, as well as vastly improving on the graphics and level design. Unlike Nightmare on Elmstreet 17, Pandemonium 2 actually adds to its predecessor, making it a worthy sequel.
The Comet of Infinite Possibilities is making its every three hundred year appearance in the land of Pandemonium, and everyone is vying to harness its powers. Our old friends are back, you can choose between the "ultra vixen incarnate" Nikki and the pyromaniac Fargus. Thrown in for good measure is Sid, the sly talking sidekick to Fargus. Unfortunately, the only likeable character is Sid (Did I mention that he is a stick?) - his wisecracking is both funny and resolute and is a nice change from the seriousness of Fargus and Nikki.
The game's levels are completely linear. You can play only the next unbeaten level or any level completed previously, but you may never skip ahead or roam around the world freely. This is unfortunate because the world of Pandemonium looks like it has so much potential. Still, it doesn't really change what the game is trying to be - a fun side-scroller. The 19 levels are extremely well laid out, not a single one is short or easy, and they are all enjoyable. Level 18, for instance, was absolutely amazing - it took me approximately 30 minutes to complete, and that was WITHOUT dying! It actually took that long!
Included power-ups in the game include the lightning bolt and fireball, as well as the well-needed "Sid-erang" attack (basically Fargus throws Sid at enemies). More than this, though, there is both a tank and a big mech that you can pilot - both in extremely innovative situations. For example, in the mech, you do the normal side-scrollin' fare at first, but then you fall in this big hole and the level continues as you try to avoid missiles and other enemies while falling down the hole.
The graphics are much better than the first Pandemonium, and there are some truly amazing moments. The camera moves around dynamically producing the desired effect of queasiness (queasy = fun?). From the early earth-like levels to the completely ass-backwards finale, Pandemonium 2 runs the gamut of graphics. Although they're not as polished as Crash Bandicoot 2, they are definitely more innovative (big energy shooting eyeballs the size of Nantucket anyone?). The sound and music can match up with any other successful platformer; no deviations in quality here.
What's most important, however, is the fun factor. Pandemonium 2 is overall a very enjoyable game. Unfortunately, although the levels are difficult, there just isn't enough of them and the game took only around 10 hours to complete, and with little replay value (you could change characters, but the levels are the same). Unfortunately, it doesn't really garner any reason to play it again after finishing it.
Even though you may not play it for a long time, Pandemonium 2 is still fun - and hey, it's the new psychedelic drug of the 90's.