There are a few core facts I know as of now about Pan-Pan. First, that it is being published by Swedish art-house developer, Might & Delight, creators of the wondrous Shelter and various other pretty projects. Two, that it is being developed by the single-man studio, Spelkraft, whose primary goal is “to create ‘pure’ entertaining and creative interactive experiences,” an endearing mantra evident in his work. Which brings me, finally, to three, that Pan-Pan looks positively lovely, with an art style evoking something between The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Adventure Time.
The former comparison is likely appropriate, as Pan-Pan seems to take liberal inspiration from Nintendo’s eminent franchise. In its announcement trailer (and subsequent gameplay clips), there is many a block puzzle solved, item obtained, and blade of grass cut. These elements are of course not exclusive to the Zelda series, but their execution in Pan-Pan feels distinctly Nintendo, more so than even some of their own recent games.
Pan-Pan’s charming art style and proclaimed focus on creativity and enjoyment echoes a design philosophy that, even if not outright stated, seemed to drive many of Nintendo’s most eternally beloved classics. It’s an intangible thing in some ways, often referred to plainly as that “Nintendo magic,” but it is always recognizable when it presents itself, the same way a certain place might make you calm or nostalgic even if the cause of such emotion remains vague.
Aside from what can be drawn from its trailers, little more is known about Pan-Pan. It has been said that your task is to fix your little space gal’s broken ship (perhaps an answer as to the game’s title), but beyond the tangentially Pikmin-like nature of exploring an alien planet for salvageable parts, it remains unclear as to what Pan-Pan has in store. And I think I like it that way, especially with Pan-Pan’s release being only a few weeks out. With so many games showcasing themselves ad nauseam, to the point of completely removing any surprise or curiosity as to what they are, I find myself enamored with Pan-Pan’s quiet and reserved reveal so soon before launch. Whether that is the wisest marketing decision is a different question, but is has undeniably captured my interest, and somehow that itself feels like a pleasant surprise.