Published on November 6th, 2014 | by Craig Forshey0
Super Penguin Review
Within every genre there are games that are content to merely exist and games that truly break the mold in order to become something special. Indie developer Will Lewis’s absolutely fantastic new endless faller Super Penguin unquestionably belongs to the latter category, as its unique bonding of falldown settings fused with Super Mario Bros esque platforming makes for a memorable experience. While most endless fallers perfectly epitomize the word ‘generic’ with so little differentiation between them they could hardly be told apart save for their palette swaps, Super Penguin focuses on providing silky smooth and well designed action flavored with retro sidescroller aesthetics that gives it a feel all to its own. Through a balanced mix of addicting gameplay, appealing visuals, and a seemingly never ending smorgasbord of content this humble little retro homage has neatly worked its way into my heart.
Like all falldown games the object of Super Penguin is to, well, fall down. However this only serves as a starting point rather than an “end all, be all” approach to game design as Super Penguin builds on some of the genre’s most common tropes from a platforming perspective, which allows it to combine the best of both worlds like they were peanut butter & jelly. This simple but important concept of duality serves as the basis for everything about Super Penguin and allows it to mature beyond the limits of its peers.
In Super Penguin players must help the title character make his way to the bottom of a seemingly neverending chasm by either tilting, tapping, or swiping him into a position where he can fall down to the next level before being crushed by a collapsing ceiling. As if that weren’t bad enough, a horde of deadly pixel monsters are determined to put a stop to this bird’s flight and will stop at nothing to halt player’s progress as evidenced by the ludicrous amount of traps they’ve placed. Players will need to think fast and out maneuver all these obstacles in order to reach unprecedented new depths and unlock all sorts of cool new power ups.
The enemies in most other endless fallers can only be defeated by finding a rare item that only lasts for a few seconds, but in Super Penguin being able to attack all the monsters in your way at any time isn’t just allowed it’s required. Much like Mario Super Penguin is able to jump on the heads of enemies, shoot fire balls, and use a ton of other different unlockable powers. Because of this you’ll see a lot more onscreen enemies than you normally would which helps to give Super Penguin a more alive feeling than simply falling down as in other games.
There is a wonderful approach to progression present in Super Penguin that has kept me coming back to it time and time again just to see if I was skilled enough to unlock something else. Littered throughout each stage are coins that can be collected in order to unlock new abilities, better stats, and even higher value coins. It’s noteworthy to mention that save for an option to disable ads for 99 cents the in-game store is completely in-app purchase free and instead forces players to increase their skill rather than decrease their bank account in order to excel at Super Penguin, so there’ll be no cheating by buying coins to get ahead here! A continuously regenerating set of achievements give players opportunities to gain small caches of loot, while other bigger achievements offer new levels that can only be unlocked by getting far enough in the game rather than having to pay anything for them which is really nice.
There are three different levels currently available with each tailor made to a specific level of difficulty. The standard grassy level is where you’ll be spending the bulk of your time as it functions as the first area and houses most of the content as well as a special rare key needed to unlock one of the other levels. Then there’s the special Halloween level available to people who download Super Penguin during this spooky time of the year, it comes with a completely different motif as well as much more scary and aggressive monsters. Rounding out the trio is the castle level, which functions as the game’s “insane” mode with especially vicious enemies and even more perilous traps than before. Other levels are planned for down the road, such as an upcoming Christmas level that’s sure to provide it’s own unique brand of challenge.
Summary: Super Penguin successfully stands out in one of the most crowded genres on Android with smooth action and clever design. If you've ever wished your endless faller had more to do, be sure to check out this indie gem.