Greedy Penguins in Review – Sometimes something fishy is good

Sometimes I fear that a particular genre will start to get old, especially when the App Store gets littered with games from that genre.  The physics puzzler is one such genre that comes to mind, but thankfully Greedy Penguins isn’t the game to make that fear come true.  This cute puzzle game about feeding some hungry aquatic birds can be challenging, but it is also satisfying and often quite entertaining.  Control is a bit troublesome, which I have a feeling is due to the small iPod Touch screen, but overall the playing experience has been top notch.

Greedy Penguins is a game about color coded penguins that love their fish, goofy friends that crave ice cream and all the physics it takes to make everyone happy.  Each level contains one or more penguins that want to eat, but the trick is that they can only eat a fish that is the same color they are.  Of course they will try to eat anything that rolls near them, but an incorrect appetizer will cause them to puke and you’ll have to start the level over.  You’ll also have to restart if a fish falls into the water or otherwise becomes inaccessible to its recipient.  Finally, there are a few levels were there are bigger fish in the sea, so to speak, and if you’re timing isn’t so hot your penguins might end up as something else’s main course.

Every level set introduces some new toys for you to play with.  It might be something simple like other objects that can knock fish in a different direction, or it might be a bit more entertaining like fans that can blow things around or cannons that let you fire the fish.  Many things are triggered by chain reactions, like a fish or other object landing on a button to turn on a fan, but some items like the cannon you have a bit more control over.  The key to everything is timing – you might have to release fish in a different order than what logically makes sense to you, or more importantly you may have to trigger an event slightly sooner than appears necessary.  In the end, though, you want to get the lowest time possible on a level.

A successfully fed fish gives you an ice cream cone.  Tapping on that cone feeds it to the friend for that level set.  Friends are creatures like a walrus, hippo or cat, and they pretty much don’t serve a purpose other than to sit there and amuse you.  They certainly are amusing, though, and as you earn gold fish you’ll unlock “expressions” that the friends make while they are sitting around.  As silly as it sounds, you get to the point where you want to find out what the next crazy thing is that some friend is going to do, so it actually acts as an incentive to get all those gold fish.  Gold fish are awarded at the end of a level, and while I’m not entirely sure what goes into determining your reward, I know time is a factor.  That’s why it’s important to solve a level as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Control is simply a matter of tapping something at the right time.  For the most part this works, but there have been occasions where I tapped a fish several times before it was freed from its net.  This is especially true if the fish is swinging when it needs to be released.  I haven’t really run into this problem with other objects yet.  One nifty little thing you can do is tap on the friends to watch their expressions – of course if you’re trying to get all the gold fish there really won’t be time for that, but it’s amusing every once in a while.

As much fun as the game is in general, the graphics are certainly the highlight.  The backgrounds are well drawn and use a technique I love where the “foreground background” shares the color palette of the characters while the “back background” has kind of a washed out pastel like look.  The characters themselves are so well animated that you often feel like you’re watching a cartoon.  The fish will even do silly things like try and saw themselves out of the net.  The sound effects are great, especially when it comes to the fish and friends.  The music isn’t bad, but if it’s not the same song for each level group then the tracks are pretty similar.

One might expect a publisher to strike gold one time in a genre as with Angry Birds, or maybe even twice like with Cut the Rope (TMA Review), but Chillingo just keeps on delivering the goods when it comes to puzzle games, and Greedy Penguins is the proof.  The somewhat touchy controls aside, this is one of the most enjoyable puzzle games I’ve played in a while.  I just hope that we might get lucky enough down the road to see a couple more friends (and consequently levels) added to the mix.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Greedy PenguinsDeveloper: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:3.1
Price:$0.99App Size:
  • Great physics fun
  • Nice variety of levels
  • Excellent character animations
  • Amusing sound effects
  • Somewhat finicky controls

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