Penguins logo

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

When a good puzzle game hits the shelves, it can sell by the bucket-load – look at the success of Lemmings for example. However, there are many others that just fall by the way-side, due mainly to lack of originality.

The next in the line of Amiga puzzlers is Penguins – a brave effort from a chap called Scott Hayne who is dealing with the whole release by himself, from the development to the publishing. Although a commercial release, he is selling the game at a snip of a price at £6.99, so to judge Penguins fairly, this should be kept in mind.

The concept behind it is that you play a fox or something which looks rather similar, and your mission is to guide some bewildered penguins safely through the levels. (Why is a fox’s job is anyone’s guess. What do you want for £7 – realism?). You have various obstacles to overcome, from conveyor belts to flame jets, and you will need to negotiate platforms to get each penguin from one door to the exit.

This is a good effort which is a bargain for the price. It's rather hard though, so will keep you occupied for ages - providing you don't tear your hair out first

But the penguins are not completely helpless. The one in blue can collect keys whilst the other one can club any baddies that stand in the way. However, this means you’ll also have to think about which penguin you want to move out first.

A map function makes life easier and allows you to stay stationary, and scroll around the level whilst you plan your next move – and if you find yourself in a no-win situation your only option will be to press escape. Fortunately, a code is presented after each level because if you didn’t save I’m convinced you’d be there for decades.

Both the graphics and sound work adequately for the type of game it is – you don’t need fancy effects for a puzzler to work. The backgrounds are quite detailed, though, and it’s nice to see these change every so often. The sprites also look quite nice, although I think they may have benefited from being a little larger.

Final word

Penguins hardly scores highly in the originality stakes but it does offer 60 levels for only £7 – and entertaining levels they are too! Each provides a different challenge and they become progressively harder as you go, introducing you to each obstacle gradually. However, even the beginning levels are tricky and the game won’t be for you if you don’t have much patience.

This is a good effort which is a bargain for the price. It’s rather hard though, so will keep you occupied for ages – providing you don’t tear your hair out first! Ppppick one up today! (Sorry!)

Penguins logo

I’m still undecided as to exactly what I am. It’s pretty obvious that the two little things that walk around non-stop needing me to guide them to the end of the level are penguins. (They certainly look like penguins and, after all, the game is called Penguins). But as for the character I’m controlling, it could be a fox, a chicken or a mutant cross-breed new to the animal kingdom, I just can’t figure it out. But compared to, for example, the sinking of the Lusitania – still a contentious issue after 78 years – it doesn’t really matter. That much.

I have, however, made my mind up about the game itself and I like it. Its concept is not difficult to grasp (get the penguins to the exit), getting used to it is not a problem (the controls are appreciably smooth and responsive) and its sixty levels provide a more than adequate challenge.

The fun of the game comes from the two penguins having different powers. The blue one (let’s call him Herbert) can carry keys and so open doors, while the red one (Desdemona perhaps. Yes. Desdemona) carries a huge club and so can batter monsters out of the way.

You’re still obliged to push blocks and throw switches to influence the penguin’s movements, but at least they’re joining in a bit (far more enthusiastically than those wretched lemmings, anyway) and, of course, you have to be careful to arrange things so that Herbert doesn’t end up blundering into a monster’s scaly grip.

The main problem comes in Penguins’ unforgiving nature – if you go the wrong way at the beginning or throw the wrong switch, you’ve lost. (Except you can keep going until you realise that for yourself). And the way you’re invited to "Press Escape" when you’ve inadvertently killed a penguin (instead, for example, the game ending automatically) is quietly annoying.

But mental scar tissue quickly forms, and you nod agreeably as each new screen brings a new and usually comically misspelt hazard, and learn to use the ‘map mode’ to look before leaping (with regrettably, ‘up’). Recommended.


It's always good to try something different. Here, then, for the first time in quite a while, is an annotated 'link' or 'tag' of a platform game. APPRECIATE ITS PLEASING ARROWS.

Penguins: Overview level 3
Penguins level 3
Opening the left gate and...
...bombing the middle path avoids the flames.
I gather loot.
Desdemona strikes! A monster.
This switch opens the passage to the exit. I throw it.
A final block reveals the door. I thank 'map mode' for showing me the way.