"Everybody dive!" is part of the title of Agenda's newest WiiWare game to hit the Japanese Wii Shop, and that is what this game is all about: diving off cliffs – as penguins are known to do – for big points!
Of course this isn't March of the Penguins, so the penguins in this game aren't dropping off little icebergs, but plummeting off of cliffs so high the duration of the descent is measured in tens of seconds; with the bottom obscured by mist. The goal in the game is straightforward: get the most points possible by hitting as many rings as you can along the way. There is no failure – you're jumping off a cliff, how could you fail that? There are normal golden rings, green double rings, red triple rings, special pink clover-shaped and red star-shaped rings with extra bonuses attached and, at the end of a dive, life rings that you can hit for a final 5000-point bonus. After your score is totalled you'll be prompted to load it up to the Wi-Fi leader board (assuming it's a high score for the dive point) where you can then see how you measure up against the penguin diving greats of Japan.
There are seven dives in all: 3 off of icy mountaintops, one down a rainbow-laden waterfall, another from a rocky cliff and one down a tunnel. The final bonus level is off the rings of a mysterious planet close enough to dive to Earth from (possibly the homeworld of daredevil penguins?). It may not sound like much, and it isn't, but it's still good fun.
Controls are similar to those of Excite Truck: you hold the Remote NES-style and then tilt it up and down to rotate your penguin clockwise and anti-clockwise in a circle. You can control the speed of your descent by pressing to streamline your shape and fall faster or press to flap your flippers and slow down. The dives all have obstacles to avoid like white birds that fly through your dive path or ledges jutting out from the sides of the cliffs you're jumping off of. In addition to the white birds and ledges – either one of which will slow you down if you hit them (which means less bonus points for dive duration) – there are red birds which will fly ahead of you to steal the red triple rings unless you can get to them first.
Despite all the obstacles, the game is still pretty easy. Each dive is awarded a medal based upon score, and getting anything less than silver is pretty much impossible to imagine: you get gold if your final score is in excess of 30,000 points, which isn’t that hard to achieve. You need to get a medal rank in each dive to unlock the next; you need gold in the first six to unlock the 7th. The 7th runs credits at the same time, so it's sort of a bonus "thanks for all the fish" dive. You can realistically unlock all dives in well under an hour.
High scores is what it's all about, though. When you choose your profile (there are six possible – just in case all your friends and neighbours are keen to get on the boards) you assign a Mii to it with that Mii’s name being the one entered in the board – easy-peasy! If chasing scores isn't enough for you, there's always local multiplayer with up to four players (achieved via split-screen). Winners cheer and losers weep during the final ranking – awwwwww...
Hooper Looper Penguin Diving (or however you wish to call this game) isn't going to provide much of a challenge, but it will provide fun. It looks cute, plays well and offers enough variety in scoring that it always feels like you can try harder for more points; plus it's got a great theme song. All for only 500 points and the teeny tiny size of 99 blocks – not bad at all for the occasional play between Final Fantasy games!