Panic! is a game (although that term is a bit debatable) where the world has gone mad, what with the computer network server being infected with a virus that causes objects of all kinds, all over the planet, to behave strangely (which is evident during the introductory cutscene, where a man's cycle tires turn triangular-shaped, a television set throws up when turned on, and an Easter Island head statue crushes a man while awaiting an elevator, as well as many other things that occur during a session of going through Panic!).
The player controls two characters that are given a remote control during a scene, the player presses a (or several) button(s) on the remote, and then watches what happens. (The characters are trying to reset all switches in the world to return things to normal, as "Panic!" is the codename of the program that is attacking the virus.) There are literally over a thousand gags that occur throughout Panic!, which the player can watch either what will go wrong in an area or a brief random skit that might not have anything to do with the current scene at all will appear. Also, there are 30 traps scattered all over the world that the player could set off when they run across them, which results in the destruction of a building somewhere (ranging from a major landmark such as The Statue of Liberty to the main character's pet doghouse).
Panic! is kind of difficult to even pin down as a game genre, as it could go under the genres of Adventure or Puzzle, although there really isn't much of the latter to constitute it being a "puzzle" at all, since a session of the game will involve a lot of notetaking initially in order to list all the gags that a player might wish to see later without accidentally pressing a button that would take them to another scene prematurely. About the only "puzzle" part of the game is which route to take during the very end scene in order to view the ending of the game, which is just a process of elimination anyway.
The majority of the time the player controls Slap, "the boy", although occasionally his dog Stick will be the lone character that appears in a scene. Stick will often appear along with Slap in many of the scenes.
There are only a few scenes that will end the game right then and there if the player presses the wrong button. Other than that, the game just ends if the player makes it to the end of the game, sets off all 30 traps worldwide (which is unlikely, which a grim scene of a devastated New York with a destroyed Statue of Liberty will appear if that happens, along with a message saying the game will have to be restarted), or the player just presses reset or shuts off their game console.
Controls (Sega CD)
- Move cursor--D-pad or joystick or mouse
- Press button--buttons A, B or C, or mouse button
- View map--Start button
- The first version of the game in Japan was called Switch for the Mega CD player, which the game was retitled Panic! with its North American Sega CD release.
- The Sega CD version is compatible with the Sega Mega Mouse controller.