Review by Dark Penguin

Reviewed: 07/28/03 | Updated: 07/28/03

You are excellent player. Present you with points!

Let me just start things off here by saying that in this game, you are a penguin. That's right. A small, fat, and for whatever reason, blue, penguin. That alone should have been enough to skyrocket this game to popularity. I could stop this review right here, but I know some people won't be satisfied with just being a penguin. They want to hear about the game itself. Okay, I'll humor you:

The concept of Penguin-Kun wars is pretty simple. You throw a bunch of balls across a table, so that they land on your opponent's side. The catch, of course, is that your opponent will be throwing them back. The game ends when either all the balls are on one side of the table, in which case the player with his side of the table empty wins, or when sixty seconds are up, in which case the player with the least amount of balls on his side wins. You play a best-of-three round, and if you win, you move on to the next opponent. The balls have pretty realistic physics and such; they bounce off the sides of the table, and if you hit one ball with another the two will deflect off in wild directions. This brings about the biggest challenge of Penguin-Kun wars, though. For as a penguin, your stubby little flippers are too short to protect you from incoming balls. As such, if said balls should hit your bird, he's going down. The poor guy will lie on the ground for a few seconds, crying, and, of course, your sadistic -- albeit cute -- opponents love to see this. In fact, once you get hit, they'll hit you again...and again....and again. The answer to this problem? For the love of God, don't let them hit you! As if this weren't enough, occasionally one of the balls will be replaced with a bomb. The bomb will explode randomly sometime during the round, and whoever's side it's on when it goes boom will instantly loose.

Now that we've got the basics out of the way, allow me to introduce them to you. You'll be playing against some of the meanest, roughest, mind-blowingly adorable critters this side of the Potomac. There's the Maniacal Mouse, the Psychopathic Panda, the Killer Koala, and, worst of all, that murderous, deranged, downright unpleasant creature known only as The Beav. Don't be fooled by their oh-so-cute-and-huggable looks. These guys are all out for blood.

If you survive the adrenaline-rushing normal rounds, you'll also get to play a couple of bonus games. The first is like air hockey, only it's played in space!!! That's just crazy! And as if the sheer madness of a penguin in a vacuum weren't enough, this version of air hockey is insane. Instead of playing one round at a time and scoring individual points, two balls are thrown onto the playing field at once. And the very second one of those balls enters a player's goal, another is immediately tossed into the ring. If your reflexes aren't up to snuff, your opponent can score ten straight goals on you within seconds, so look sharp. The second mini-game is even more nuts. You've played whack-a-mole, right? We all know the game. You go to Chuck E. Cheese's and pay a dollar to hit some plastic moles on the head with a hammer as they pop in and out of their holes. Simple enough, right? Well, your little penguin friend has apparently had enough of this laid-back approach. Instead of a hammer, you're going to be using bombs. That's right, no more of this wussy stuff -- if you hit a mole, it's going down, simple as that. The third minigame is just pointless. It's just like the regular game, only it's played with bombs instead of balls. If you get hit, the bombs explode and you fly all over the screen. And if you don't get hit, then the bombs explode and you fly all over the screen. The point? I have no idea.

Finally, this game has some of the best potential for catch-phrases of all time. If Penguin-Kun wars had been as popular as Zero Wing, no one would care about this ''All your base'' stuff. Check these lines out: if you win a round by getting all of the balls onto your opponent's side, you receive the message ''YOU GET PERFECT GAME!'' If you win a round normally, the payoff is even better: ''YOU ARE EXCELLENT PLAYER. PRESENT YOU WITH POINTS!'' And finally, if you should be so lucky as to tie with your opponent, you are rewarded with the best line ever to grace an arcade game's screen: ''THIS IS DRAWN GAME. PLAY GAME ONCE MORE!'' Oh, the sweet rapture. I can see my little blue penguin dancing around in my dreams, with a voice shouting mangled japenglish lines.

Graphics. The graphics in Penguin-Kun Wars are clear and sharp, although the game does suffer from the unfortunate ''So cute you'll want to gouge your eyes out with a pitchfork'' syndrome. Still, seeing your penguin getting blown up by a bomb has to be one of the most hilarious -- if not saddest -- moments in video game history.

Sound. The sound suffers from the same malady as the graphics, replacing the word ''eyes'' with ''eardrums.'' The music is just too darned cute for the violence and mayhem that is Penguin-Kun Wars. If you really want to get into this game, then take my advice: mute the sound and crank up some techno-funk-trance music. Something heavy and fast-paced. Seriously, the game is much more enjoyable with some high-quality beats.

Funfactor. How much fun is this game? Imagine the most fun things you could possibly think of, then raise them to a power of infinity. You still haven't come close to the experience that is Penguin-Kun Wars. Beaning cuddly, near-extinct animals with big pink balls is just something you can't pass up.

Replay Value. Here's the deal with this game: You're either going to love it forever, or you're going to love it for ten seconds. The gameplay is very addictive, but some people will tire of it rather quickly. Not me, though. I'll be playing the PK Wars for years to come.

Overall Score: 7/10

Rating: 7

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