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Publisher: FroGames    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Penguins Arena
March 11, 2008 | Samuel Slesinger

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Imagine only eating ice cream for the rest of your life. First it would be frigginí sweet, but you would eventually get sick of it. Our minds need constant, variable stimulation to be satisfied. Thatís why shooters like GoldenEye and Halo were (and still are) so immensely popular. Yes, they feature fast-paced bloodbaths, but they also incorporate slower-paced stealth elements to keep the brain, and the player intrigued.

More Indie, More Problems
Now I havenít mentioned the entire penguin arsenal yet for a very specific reason: it impacts my consideration of the entire game. To begin, recall the context of the warfare. The deteriorating effects of global climate change have plunged the penguin population into famine. Sedna, the penguin Goddess, encouraged the various tribes to fight for the remaining food supply. Now Iíll introduce the additional weapons and power-ups.

First up is the Big Bomb. This one is pretty self-explanatory, and squeaks by in the context of the game (apocalyptic scenario, remember?). Next up are Bearís Claws. This special item allows your penguin to grab a firmer hold on the icy ground. It is also plausible, albeit a bit more gruesome, based on the fact that polar bears would probably die out quickly from food shortage, and penguins could use their decaying carcasses to their advantage. Sednaís egg is another special item. It temporarily provides invulnerability for your penguinó and not to mention a translucent white glow. The final two power-ups are Dynamite Fish, an explosive green fish with a stick of dynamite lodged in its throat, and Gust of Clownfish, a bag of fish that you can shoot rapid fire. Stick of dynamite aside, are their any red flags going off in your head?

Why, in an apocalyptic scenario where a scarcity of food has lead to a penguin civil war, would the penguins be fighting with food? I donít get it. They are squandering what little food they have left to fight each other, when they are fighting each other for food in the first place. This glaring conceptual mistake really had me scratching my head. I donít mean to be petty, but if youíre trying to promote an environmental message that speaks to younger gamers, then it has to make sense!

As I said before, I wanted to like this title. It has adorable (and functional) graphics, entertaining gameplay, and a poignant message behind it. Independently developed, I can even gloss over the glaring conceptual blunder. But at the end of the day, Penguins does not keep me coming back for more. The battles are just too short, the music too repetitive, and the parameters too un-customizable.

As always, I encourage you to download the demo. And support indie developers by telling them what you want! Sometimes the insightful voice of an experienced gamer is the difference between a good game and an epic one.

• Poignant message
• Entertaining visuals
• Online gameplay

• Repetitive soundtrack
• Little customizability

Penguins Arena
Publisher: FroGames
Download Penguins Arena Demo


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