Penguin mightier than the sword?
This game shouldn’t be called Super Penguins, it should be called ‘Cute Colourful, But Definitely Not Super Penguins’. I was expecting them to fly, or be able to read people’s minds, or punch buildings in the face. Alas, this isn’t a balls-to-the-wall action adventure, it’s a cheap and cheerful endless runner, with a cutesy, cutesy Kung-Fu style. Without the Kung-Fu.
The game starts with a tug of war between two rival gangs over a fish. The cute, happy penguins find it, the evil gang of purple octopus want it. (This would probably be a good time to use the old cliché ‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’, but I won’t). Eventually, a massive purple octopus rises out of the sea and kidnaps all the happy penguins. Game over.
Sorry, game begins. It’s a 3D runner, so you know what that means : run, run, run. Whoop, whoop. You begin with the ‘basic ‘penguin. Which is to say, a black and white one – you know, like 99.9% of the penguin population – but you can also purchase a couple of other designs from the penguin fashion show using the in-game currency of fish. There you go see, plenty more where the first one came from.
As your penguin bounds forwards automatically, it’s up to you to tilt the screen for him to move, and tap it to jump. Along the way you’ll collect fish, rescue the kidnapped penguins and avoid the evil octopuses as well as a host of environmental dangers like anchors that suddenly drop from the sky and whales who pop up from the deep blue. And with that in mind, should the plural for ‘Octopus’ be ‘Octopusi’? Please consider.
It’s straightforward indeed, but still has a few interesting features. As well as the various penguins you can buy (which don’t offer anything different apart from their appearance), you can stump up cash for power-ups of the temporary or permanent variety. I particular enjoyed propelling my penguin 500m across the level, bypassing half of the bloody thing before realising it was a one time only deal. Darn.
There’s also a feature which takes a snapshot of your final score for each level. Perhaps the developers forgot the iPhone can do this already, albeit with two button presses rather than one. In any case, it’s a nice enough addition for anyone who wants to spend their Saturday afternoons browsing snapshots of their high scores. Not sure who that might be though.
There’s also the useful addition of a countdown timer which appears when you rejoin the game after pausing. It’s an always welcome detail, especially as there isn’t an actual pause button in the first place. You’ll eventually figure out how to do it, but I won’t tell you here. That would spoil the fun.
Levels can get fiendish at times what with the whales and anchors dropping in from nowhere, as well as the loop the loop areas which keep you on your toes. It does seem a little harsh that simply brushing against a wall or obstruction kills you completely. I know penguins aren’t exactly kings of the animal kingdom, but perhaps just slowing you down would’ve been less frustrating. Mind you, it would probably be less frustrating if I was better at games.
Sound is full of adorable yelps and exclamations from our arctic friends, and the music is a typical upbeat and cutesy ditty. Graphically, it’s nothing special; basic and a little unrefined, but colourful enough.
Speaking of graphics, the death animations are quite disconcerting. There’s something about the way your penguin lies face down on the ice when it’s game over that really motivates you to make sure they don’t die. And if that’s an intentional move on the developer’s part, I shall not argue. These penguins aren’t super you know.
Kevin. Penguins. Twitter. Do it. @dreagleg