(DSiWare)

Penguin Patrol (DSiWare)

Game Review

Penguin Patrol Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Snow major complaints; it's an ice game! Catch our drift?

The charmingly simple story of Penguin Patrol revolves around a young Eskimo who witnesses a greedy walrus slugging along with a sack full of distressed penguins. The walrus is obviously looking forward to a nice big dinner, but it's up to you to prevent him from getting that far.

You accomplish this noble goal by solving various isolated puzzles, each of which centres around you manoeuvring the gentle Eskimo over sheets of brittle ice, rescuing penguins along the way. It starts off simply enough, but it's not long before the game becomes a very satisfying challenge.

Movement is grid-based, and your Eskimo takes one step in any of the four cardinal directions each time you tap the D-Pad. That's about the only thing thing you can do, control-wise, so it will become quickly apparent that Penguin Patrol is a game of brainpower rather than reflexes.

Each time you step off of a square of ice, it shatters, and you can't backtrack. You'll need to plot the best route across the ice in order to rescue the requisite number of penguins. Once you do, you'll still have to reach the exit, so planning ahead is absolutely necessary; if you do destroy a path you need, you can use the L button to take back your last step, or reset the level entirely from the start menu.

Before long, the game starts throwing you curve balls in the form of ice squares that behave differently, such as being able to sustain two steps over them rather than one, or which propel you endlessly forward until you hit an immoveable obstacle. Eventually even the penguins — who previously just sat still on the ice and waited for you to rescue them — will find new behaviours open to them as well. Each complication of the game forces you to reconsider and adapt past strategies, and the difficulty — while rather high over all — does ramp up at a fair pace.

The game features 59 main levels, followed by a handful of bonus levels which brings the total up to 78. It's unlikely that you'll solve many of these levels your first time through, and even if you do there are better star ranks to reach for, which helps to extend the life of the game.

Unfortunately, that's all there is. It's a simple game with a clear premise and excellent puzzle design, but if you're not particularly interested in better star ranks or bonus levels, it's likely that the game won't remain in your rotation for long.

The presentation of Penguin Patrol is serviceable, but that's about all. The music is calm and soothing, but not particularly memorable. The visuals are appealingly cartoony, but your character moves a bit too slowly, interfering with the pace of the game as you might be thinking well ahead of he is, and needing to wait for him to catch up.

Penguin Patrol is absolutely a good game, but it does feel a bit light, though it's worth remembering it's 200 Points. It promises to deliver a set of great puzzles, and it does that much without question.

Conclusion

Penguin Patrol aims to provide one thing: a well made game of clever movement puzzles. At that, it absolutely succeeded. There's really nothing more to it than that, however, and the experience as a whole does feel rather slight. For those seeking a quick but challenging puzzle game to play in short bursts, this is a solid download. For anybody seeking something with more depth or engagement, however, it might leave you cold.

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User Comments (26)

Mok

#3

Mok said:

Definitely picking this one up if and when it comes to EU.

sam322

#7

sam322 said:

I was definately expexting a 7, i'm now uploading my review to youtube :)

Dodger

#8

Dodger said:

Sounds fun enough. I used to play a game like this on Club Penguin when I was younger. I used to love that site. Doubt this will ever be high enough on my to get list though.

sinalefa

#10

sinalefa said:

So the only good games Chicken reviews are the ones every one expects not to be good. Maybe I will get it later on, I could never beat Toki Tori anyway.

pariah164

#11

pariah164 said:

Seems right up my alley, and you can't go wrong for only 200 points. I'm definitely getting this.

Ernest_The_Crab

#13

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@AbuJaffer Well you would need some heat for that cold air.

Hm...this sounds like an extended (and expanded) version of one of the Ice gyms in Pokemon. Probably not going to get it, wasn't too big a fan of those ice puzzles.

WingedSnagret

#14

WingedSnagret said:

Hey, I can finally do something with my dumb 200 points that have been sitting in my account for who knows how long! But why a walrus? Wouldn't a polar bear make more sense? Or a leopard seal if they wanted to be geographically correct...

grumblegrumble

#16

grumblegrumble said:

This got a much higher score than I thought it would!

"Ice, Ice, Baby..." song on repeat in my head.

Just downloaded this and am loving it. Great game for a cheap $2. Grab it if you got the room and the spare change.

We should also note that these "Penguin" type style games go back to the early 80's and SEGA/Atari's "Pengo." I remember playing that and it seems kind of similar to this game, too. Movement-based maze-type puzzles with penguins and eskimos. It's not a new novel idea, but it's done pretty well here! 8/10 for me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pengo_(video_game)

henroid

#17

henroid said:

Hey Nintendo Lifers! My name is Henry and I'm the main designer for Penguin Patrol! I'm very super duper extremely happy to hear you are all enjoying the game. The rest of the team also appreciates all the kind words you guys have for the game. Unfortunately it will be hard to update the game, but we still love hearing your feedback and will keep that in mind for the next game. Your opinions and comments matter! And with that, I want to address some things:

  • Puns: cut Philip Reed some slack with his puns. To be fair, we DID open the doors for that with our Pause/Freeze menu and our app description ("waddle we do?"). This is my fault more than anything lol
  • @sam322's youtube review: Nice review man! It was very thorough and informative! And trust me, I've also had the game music stuck in my head many many times.
  • Walrus VS Geographically Correct Animals: Yes, it's true that walruses (or is it walri?) are native to the Arctic and penguins are native to the southern hemisphere. The two should never meet naturally, so what's going on here? I wanted to have a walrus as the villain for a number of reasons. The biggest were that their floppy movement and lack of opposable thumbs meant that one could very easily drop penguins behind him for you to pick up. As for a story explanation (which never made it into the e-manual): the Walrus recently moved to the South Pole from the Arctic. He's actually kind of lonely now, which could possibly explain his dastardly deeds. Possibly. He might also be very extremely hungry too. But he's definitely a jerk.

Anyways, I figured I'd try to connect with you guys and thank you guys personally. Your (yeah you there, reading this comment) enjoyment of the game is what drives us to keep going when we're tired. I'll be checking in on this comment thread for the rest of the week so if you have any questions/feedback I'll be here to answer them.

DeadAntelopesGo

#18

DeadAntelopesGo said:

Picked the game up this morning. I played for about 2 hours over the course of the day and can say that this is a good title. The theme music that plays throughout the game is very good, but can get sort of repetitive after while. No big deal though. The gameplay is solid and I feel it has enough content to justify a 200 point game. It has alot of replay value for those who like to get perfects on every level. Im really enjoying the bonus levels, the style of play in them is really fun. It would be cool to see a bigger, better experience on the eShop one day. Maybe a level editor thrown in??

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#21

Philip_J_Reed said:

@henroid:
I was definitely impressed by this one. So many times we see DSiWare that just seems to be released half-cooked, so to speak. It was nice to see that this was a surprisingly solid puzzle experience. Keep up the great work!

Bassman_Q

#22

Bassman_Q said:

@henroid - You guys did a fine job with this one. Definitely a well-polished game, with awesome spritework and atmospheric music. I almost died when I saw the penguins shivering and jumping around. :P SO FREAKIN' ADORABLE! :D But yeah, it's a great game, and it just so happened to be released on the DSi's 3-year anniversary. I bought it for that reason, and I was surprised at how good it turned out. Keep up the good work, guys! Looking forward to your next release, Amoebattle!

And anyone else reading this should buy the game. NOW. You won't regret it. :)

henroid

#24

henroid said:

@DeadAntelopesGo hey I'm glad you're enjoying the game! A level editor was considered at one point but we got hung up at the important second half of that idea: the ability to share those levels with your friends. Sadly, we decided to cut the whole feature, but in its place we got the ability to Undo moves working. Yup, imagine not being able to have unlimited Undos. The game was extremely difficult early in development because of that. Oh yeah, and also because if you stood on ice too long it would just break underneath you regardless >.> That particular feature I'm not too sad about cutting. Another fun fact: originally I wanted the Undo icon to say CTRL + Z.
@pariah164 Awesome! I feel like more developers could take time out of their day to connect with fans. It does take some time to do this, but I think it's worth it.
@Chicken_Brutus Yeah man I'm glad you like it. There's definitely a need to take the downloadable space more seriously instead of just a quick cash grab. Thanks for the kind words! Many high fives were shared among the team
@Qwikman_N_Bass lol yeah, the penguins are cute. I'm trying to see if I can get penguin plushies made. If not for sale then maybe for myself lol. I need a fatty penguin bean bag chair in my life. Amoebattle will definitely be worth the wait! It has much of the charm from Penguin Patrol but with a creamy hardcore RTS filling. If you've got an iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), you can already get it. If you guys have any questions about that game I'd be happy to answer them too.
@julianozuca Thanks! That walrus is slowly and floppily getting away!

Happy patrolling, guys!

Blizzaga

#25

Blizzaga said:

I got this game just last night. It's fantastic! The penguins are cute, the art is lovely, and the music is soothing. It's the perfect game to play in the evening while you're winding down for bed.

phoenixfeather

#26

phoenixfeather said:

GET THIS GAME. 10/10 from me, it's a beautiful little puzzler that gets very hard as levels progress. The music and graphics really are stunning (the screenshots here don't do it justice) and the penguins are adorable. Only 200 points, get this instead of a bottle of pop :) They could have sold it for 800.

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