Peter Panic is a delightfully demented video game musical

It's WarioWare meets Broadway, as rapid-fire micro-games pair with show tunes.

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Credit: Adult Swim

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Just as it has done with late night television, Adult Swim has built up an impressive selection of strange and wonderfully offbeat mobile games over the years. Pocket Mortys is one of the more recent treats, but Robot Unicorn Attack, Amateur SurgeonHeads Up! Hot Dogs, and Giant Boulder of Death are all old favorites—and that’s just scratching the surface of what they’ve published. 

Even given all of that, Peter Panic is certainly one of Adult Swim’s most distinctive games to date. While the core gameplay is clearly inspired by Nintendo’s WarioWare series, what with its speedy barrage of micro-games, it’s all encased within the guise of a musical—a proper stage show with characters singing out exposition, tutorial phrases, and even info about in-app purchases. And no surprise: it’s a weird musical, at that, as the tale of young director trying to revive his hometown’s broken-down theatre takes a demonic twist.

mw ysp peterpanic bus Adult Swim

Peter will try to save his theatre with some help from new friends, but not everyone is as friendly as they first appear.

And best of all, Peter Panic can be played through and through without spending a penny, although there’s a notable asterisk on that point. Eager to get a bunch of catchy songs stuck in your head? Here’s why Peter Panic is such a memorable mash-up.

It’s frantic fun: Peter Panic makes little effort to hide its WarioWare influence, but then again, there isn’t much else like that Nintendo favorite on the App Store. While on your quest to cast your musical and recruit help, you’ll stop in at various locales in town—a school, museum, and even a game development studio—at which point you’re tested with a chaotic series of quick-hit games.

mw ysp peterpanic sorting Adult Swim

In this micro-game, you’ll sort a stack of papers by header color within a span of just a few seconds.

Each micro-game tends to last only a few seconds at a time, and they come one right after the next until you finish the set or fail out. For example, in the game studio, you’ll tap to jump in a Super Mario-like side-scroller, combine symbols to match a completed image, or tap to shoot enemies in a Doom-inspired shooter sequence—and that’s just a taste of what’s included. There’s some trial-and-error fumbling involved, since Peter Panic offers little instruction, but that’s part of the amusing chaos of it all.

You’ll want to sing along: Peter Panic really feels like a musical, albeit one with pint-sized games, supernatural themes, and plenty of snark. When Peter drops into a new location, he’ll begin singing out a conversation with whomever he’s trying to recruit, be it a museum tour guide or a school teacher—and the songs themselves are not only well written, but entertainingly performed as well.

mw ysp peterpanic peanuts Adult Swim

Peter Panic has songs about everything from packing peanuts to soulless free-to-play clones. It’s a fun one!

Adult Swim’s game has a charming, retro-inspired look to it, as well, with adorably detailed pixel characters flailing about amidst the wild show tune showdowns. Only the first act was available when the game first launched last year, although the second act has been added since to complete the tale and really flesh out the experience.

It’s free (mostly): Peter Panic can be played through, start to finish, and it doesn’t feature any pop-up, video, or banner ads within. However, there is a pretty notable in-app purchase available: the ability to save your progress. You can play all you want in a session if you plan on zipping through the entire game at once, but if you exit, you’ll have to start over unless you pay the $3 for the save function.

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This tiny game tasks you with shooting missiles at the exact moment to blast meteors out of the sky.

Saving progress lets you replay the levels in any order and tap into unlocked content, and is ideal if you only plan to play for a few minutes at a time. Otherwise, you really might not need it. App Store user reviews don’t seem too pleased with this approach, but then again, people who leave obnoxious App Store reviews usually hate spending any money for games. Peter Panic offers plenty of fun, with an amusing premise and hilarious songs—and the fact that you can enjoy it for free is in no way a bad thing.

Developer: Adult Swim Games
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: Free

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