Panic Porcupine is a new precision platformer on the Nintendo Switch. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s literally Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Meat Boy combined. It looks like a game meant for the SNES/Genesis and plays like a pinball machine for masochists.

In Panic Porcupine, players must pull off very specific maneuvers, with the right amount of momentum and speed to survive the various spikes, saws, projectiles, flames, and random pits (generously) scattered throughout each level. Each area has 10 courses, and the 10th course usually contains a boss of some sort. The overworld for each area reminded me of Super Mario 3. The player moves along a linear path to the next level. You have to complete a certain amount of levels before you can proceed to the next area.

Your goal is to defeat the Dr. Robotnik clone and save all the Chickabirds in each level. There are also eggs that you can collect if you’re the completionist type. The eggs are sometimes difficult to obtain, and I didn’t have the patience for it. But if you love a good challenge, this will definitely add to the difficulty. I personally just tried to fly through each level as quickly as I could without becoming ground porcupine meat.

Unless you have really good timing, this is a tough one. You will repeatedly die; that part is inevitable. However, it’s extremely rewarding getting past a difficult area. Though after the first few levels, it starts to feel like a never-ending cycle of frustration and brief elation. Sometimes I just wanna go fast and not worry about dying, you know? The levels are short, but when you die, you have to start all over. So I recommend getting the harder Chickabirds first.

The one thing I really didn’t like was having to get a good amount of momentum to get out of certain nooks and crannies. Panic Porcupine does not have a charge ability like Sonic the Hedgehog. So when you’re stuck in a U shaped tube, and the only way out is getting enough speed to come out of the other end, it gets annoying. I found myself stuck a few times. This didn’t happen often, but when it did, it was time consuming to say the least. When the rest of the game feels so fast paced, it feels odd to get “stuck” in these types of situations. And I also found it odd that so much was copied from Sonic, yet there was no charge ability. Not sure if that some sort of liability/trademark issue maybe?

You don’t get much time to take in the scenery in Panic Porcupine. Pretty backgrounds and graphics don’t mean much when death is around every corner. There’s a fun retro feel to this game, though. Something about the way the characters look and move reminds me of an old Looney Tunes game that was on the SNES. There’s also a strong late 80s, early 90s vibe going on in this game. It’s very colorful, and the music is fun and upbeat. You even get to save your progress onto a floppy disk… If you’re even cool enough to know what those are. The sparse cutscenes and dialogue are entertaining. The game is very aware of how much it was influenced by other popular titles, and it pokes fun at the similarities quite a bit.

Overall, Panic Porcupine is fun when you’re winning. But when you get stuck on a level and must do the same thing repeatedly to get one bird, the game can be very frustrating and repetitive. But stick with it. For better or worse, games like this are meant to be beaten through trial and error—probably accompanied by a little panic. If you’d like something more relaxing, you might want to skip Panic Porcupine. But it’s a good game for players looking for a retro, challenging experience.