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Cover art of Bank Panic
|Release date(s)||1984 (Arcade)
1985 (ZX Spectrum, SG-1000)
1986 (MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC)
1987 (Sega Master System)
|Mode(s)||Single-player, up to 2 players, alternating turns|
|Cabinet||Standard upright, horizontal|
|Display||Raster, 224 x 224 pixels, 32 colors|
The player assumes the part of an Old West sheriff who must protect a bank and its customers from masked robbers. The layout of the bank is implicitly a circle with twelve numbered doors and the player in the center. The player can rotate to the left or right and view three doors at a time. The doors will open to reveal a customer (who will drop a bag of money, making a deposit), a robber (who will attempt to shoot the player) or a young boy (who will be holding a stack of three to five hats, which the player can rapidly shoot for a bag of money or bonus time). The level ends when all twelve doors have received one or more deposits. This is indicated by the numbered boxes across the top of the screen, with a red dollar sign showing a door with a completed deposit.
At random intervals, a bomb will be placed on one of the doors and a rapid timer will count down from 99. The player must move to that door and destroy the bomb with gunfire. Shooting a customer, being shot by a robber, failing to destroy a bomb, or failing to complete the level before the overall timer runs out (shown by a bar at the bottom of the screen) costs the player one life.
Although robbers can be shot on sight (an "UNFAIR" kill), greater points can be earned by waiting until they begin to draw their weapons (a "FAIR" kill). A red-shirted robber who is shot at the precise moment of drawing his weapon will earn maximum points and a letter in the word "EXTRA" (indicated in the lower left corner). Completing five such kills finishes the word, earning the player an extra life, bonus points, and instant advancement to the next level. Extra lives can also be earned by reaching certain scores.
At the end of each level, the player earns bonus points based on the total number of deposits received, the amount of time remaining, and the average time for all "FAIR" kills during the level. Extra points are also earned whenever a customer makes a deposit at a door where a bank teller is sitting.
Later levels introduce variations, including customers who will be shoved aside by robbers; customers who are bound by ropes (shooting them once will destroy the ropes and earn the player three bags of money, while waiting will reveal a robber); robbers who duck away from the door before drawing their guns; and red-shirted robbers who wear white boots (distinguishing themselves from the other red-shirted robbers) who carry two handguns and thus must be shot twice, though even doing so with perfect timing will not earn an EXTRA letter. At times, a robber will take money that has been deposited at one of the doors, making its red dollar sign disappear, and will be hiding behind that door, money in hand. Shooting the robber makes him drop the money, returning the deposit.
Clues for the player include the five indicator bars above each door box at the top of the screen. A red bar will descend, indicating a person (customer, robber or boy) is approaching the door. When the player rotates to those doors and the red bar is at the bottom, the doors will open and the player can take appropriate action. Also, after making a deposit, customers turn to leave. They sometimes will be wearing posters on their backs showing a masked face and a door number. This indicates a red-shirted robber hiding behind that door.
Earning a high score can allow a player to enter his or her initials in a top ten "BEST SCORE" list, which also records the level the player reached and the length of the game. Due to an odd software bug, this list is only visible when a player is making an entry, unlike the vast majority of arcade games which periodically display the list when the game is idle.
- Alessandro Giuriato and Gary A. Hatt share the official record for this game, with a maximum possible 9.999.999 points.
- Fun fact: In the last stages of the games, the boy who carries the hats is seen lifting up the woman client's skirts.
- The Sega Master System version of this game is very different to the original. It was also released on two types of media, the standard Master System game cartridge and the Sega Card. On this game, the timer above the robbers goes up, and the robbers also can't steal money bags. Upon completing a round, you are awarded points for up to 48 money bags, instead of 36 on the arcade. Upon reaching round 15, the game becomes nearly impossible due to the extremely short amount of time it gives you to shoot a robber, especially if the robber opens the door; a robber behind a bank customer can be timed to at least an 'unfair' kill. There is also no end to the game (completing round 50 just goes to 51, although it is nearly impossible to complete any rounds after 14. Via a cheat device, one can complete any round except for round 253. Round 253 has a programming bug which will cause the game to crash if the boy holding the hats appears. On this round, he will appear holding no hats, but the game will crash before you can see this. On rounds 254 and 255, the boy holds 1 and 2 hats respectively. The instruction manual is mostly copied from the arcade game, and even has a screenshot of it at the top of page 9, thus reading the instructions will leave an unknowing player wondering why their game plays differently to what they read from the book.
- The game's song is "Dixie's Land", an American civil war composition, while the song in the title screen from the SG-1000 version is "Marching Through Georgia", also from that period.