Pursuit of the Pink Panther

Pursuit of the Pink Panther
Company: Probe 2000
Model #:
Roger Booth (Programmer), Todd Marshall (Programmer & Audio), Robbin Dainels (Graphics), & Jim Wickstead (Game Design)
Year: 1983
Originally called Adventures of the Pink Panther


Pursuit of the Pink Panther is based off the cartoon series, which was inspired (in part) by the famous series of films starring Peter Sellers.  This game actually started out life as Trail of the Pink Panther by U.S. Games (based on the then current movie), but when U.S. Games went out of business they sold the rights to NAP who decided to release their own version of the game through their Probe 2000 division.   It is unknown if any work was done on the U.S. Games version or if any of those ideas were used in the Probe 2000 version of the game.

Pursuit of the Pink Panther (we'll refer to it simply as Pink Panther from here on out) is divided into three different screens (four if you count the ending like NAP apparently did in their advertisements).  Each screen has drastically different gameplay which is somewhat unique for the time.  There are also four difficulty levels which change how fast the timer counts down and how fast the various gameplay elements move (Clouseau and his bricks, water levels, platforms, etc.).


The City

The first screen has our pink hero walking down a sidewalk with a busy cityscape and brick wall behind him.  Standing on top of the brick wall is the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, who has taken it upon himself to stop the PP from reaching the fabulous "Pink Panther" diamond (see the movie for more details).  Clouseau randomly drops bricks, which make holes in the floor where they hit.  These holes must all be filled in before you can proceed to the next screen.  To fill the holes in, simply catch the bricks before the hit the ground.  Alternatively you can press the fire button to extend your tail to help you catch more bricks.  Catching bricks with your tail is much harder, but is worth double the points (200 vs 100).  You can also jump the holes in the floor either by pressing up and diagonally at the same time or pressing up twice (the first time will make you jump straight up while the second time will make you jump diagonally in the director you're facing).  Both of these schemes are tricky and take some getting used to.  If you fall into one of the holes in the floor or fail to complete the level before the timer counts down you'll lose a life.

The biggest problem with this level is that Clouseau likes to drop bricks over open water where you can't reach them (especially on the higher levels).  While this normally isn't a problem since they only destroy the floor where they hit, the timer on the higher levels counts down so fast that you'll need to grab just about every brick to have a chance to finish in time.  This can lead to a lot of frustration, especially coupled with the funky jumping scheme.

The Elevators

The second screen consists of three levels of elevators, which the PP must successfully traverse.  To enter an elevator simply walk up to the door and press the fire button.  If you chose correctly PP will be moved up to the next level via some Star Trek style transporter technology (what kind of elevators are these anyway?).  However if you choose the wrong elevator a enemy will come out and chase you.  These enemies consist of small bulldogs (which must be jumped), cream pies (which must be ducked), and dynamite (no defense against this, just run!).  To escape, quickly choose another elevator door and pray it's the right one.  Once you've chosen all three correct doors you'll move onto the next screen.

This screen is the weakest of the three.  The concept is interesting, but it feels incomplete like there were more things planned and they ran out of time to implement them.  However this screen serves as a nice break between the fast paced first level and the very difficult third level.  Speaking of the the third level...


The Heist

You've finally made it!  The "Pink Panther" diamond is in sight, now all you have to do to grab it!  Of course this is easier said than done.  To successfully pull off the jewel heist, you'll need to jump onto the moving platform without falling into the water (exactly where is this diamond being stored anyway?) and carefully make your way to the center of the screen.  When PP is close enough, he must then jump onto the swinging rope (ala Pitfall) and then attempt to grab the diamond while hanging upside down (pull down to attempt this).  However things aren't quite so easy as the water level is constantly rising and falling (remember, cats hate water) and Inspector Clouseau is busy trying to saw through your rope (take too long to grab the diamond and you're dead).

This level is extremely tricky.  The tough jumping controls are really noticeable here when trying to get PP onto the platform.  Since PP jumps a fixed distance each time, you must calculate exactly where the platform is going to be before committing to the jump.  On the higher levels the water rises and falls so quickly there's almost no way to avoid falling in while riding the platform short of jumping straight up and hoping you're still on the platform when you come back down.

The Happy Ending?

If you successfully snag the diamond, you're rewarded with a cute intermission showing the Pink Panther kissing the diamond while "We're In The Money" plays in the background.  However your joy is short lived (isn't that always the case?) as Inspector Clouseau drops down from a rope from the ceiling and snatches your diamond!  Now the PP must go back to the first screen and attempt to grab the diamond all over again.


So why did Pink Panther never get released?  It turns out that the special RAM/ROM chip that NAP used to squeeze all those amazing graphics and gameplay elements into the game couldn't be reliably manufactured.  When the first batch of chips came back defective rom the manufacturer NAP decided to cancel the game rather than try and find a new source for the chips (Power Lords and Tarzan also met a similar fate due to the bad chips).  The crumbling game market at the time was also a big factor in choosing not to go forward.  This is a real shame as Pink Panther is a brilliant three screen action game starring one famous cat (no not Garfield!)


Version Cart Text Description
?/??/83 Pursuit of the Pink Panther
Final Version

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