Thursday, September 27, 2012

Five favorites: Games featuring penguins

My recent experiences with The Berlin Wall, a Japanese Game Gear title that's filled with penguins of various colors and sizes, got me thinking it might be fun to write about my favorite games that feature these waddling, flightless birds.

This post is the result of that brainstorming, of course. Please note that I decided to focus on games that have penguin protagonists. As such, you won't see games like the aforementioned platformer or, say, Super Mario 64 discussed here.

1. Binary Land (Famicom)--This Hudson Soft-made game, which puts players in control of a pair of in-love penguins, is one of my favorite Famicom games, so it shouldn't be too surprising that I'm including it here. I don't love Binary Land because of its adorable protagonists, by the way; I love it because of its unique gameplay (you literally control both characters at the same time as you work them toward each stage's "exit" of sorts) and its highly hummable soundtrack.

2. Parodius Da! (PC Engine)--I could have included any of Konami's Parodius games in this post, really, but I decided to go with this, the series' second release, because it's the first I played. A few additional reasons for its inclusion here: it stars Pentarou, son of Antarctic Adventure's main character, and it features hordes of penguin "baddies" as well as a rather notable penguin boss (who earns extra points from yours truly for being both pink and a pirate), too.

3. Pepen ga Pengo (Mega Drive)--This sort-of-sequel to Sega's classic quarter-muncher (called Pengo, naturally) was released in Japan for the company's 16-bit system 17 years ago, and today it commands the highest of prices from collectors. That's too bad, as Pepen ga Pengo deserves as wide an audience as it can get thanks to its graphics, which are as cute and colorful as can be, and its gameplay, which I consider to be "part Bomberman, part Kickle Cubicle." Oh, well, that's what emulators and ROMs are for, right?

4. Penguin-kun Wars (Arcade)--Originally made by UPL and later ported to both the Famicom and GameBoy by the folks at ASCII, Penguin Kun-Wars is a title that I like despite the fact that I'm completely terrible at it. No matter how much I play this "dodgeball mixed with shuffleboard" game, I'm unable to defeat more than one or two of my computer-controlled opponents before having my keister handed to me. I keep coming back, though, because the playable characters--one of which is a penguin, of course--are as adorable as the gameplay is addictive.

5. Yume Penguin Monogatari (Famicom)--Like the titles listed above, this one, developed and published by Konami, is the definition of "unique." How else would you describe a half-platformer, half-shmup that stars a portly penguin who waddles through level after level in an attempt to both lose weight and win back his judgmental ex-girlfriend? Yume Penguin Monogatari is more than just another "crazy Japanese import," though; it's also a lot of fun and surprisingly well crafted.

See also: Previous 'five favorites' posts


Chalgyr said...

Good morning, Bryan.

Sort of funny timing - I've never played any of these games, though the top couple look pretty familiar. Why I'm laughing?

About 2 minutes before paying your site a visit this morning, I reviewed in iPhone/iPad fame featuring... penguines

The timing really just struck me as amusing. :)

Adam said...

I want to play all of these

Retr0gamer said...

Any excuse to mention Yume Penguin Monogatari is a good excuse!

Viewtiful_Justin said...

What a brilliantly constructed playlist! I love a good themed list, and this one certainly doesn't disappoint!

That being said, I've never played a single one of these!

Pepen ga Pengo looks like it would be a blast, as I love both Bomberman AND Kickle!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Chalgyr! I actually noticed that as soon as I woke up this morning :) (I pre-publish most of my posts so that they show up on my blog before I wake up in the morning.)

Anyway, I'm going to have to read your review and see if this penguin-filled iOS game is worth playing!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Adam: Does this mean you've never played any of them? If so, get out there and do it. Now! All of them are loads of fun :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, Retr0gamer. Yes. Really too bad Konami's never revisited this game, even if it is a tad non-PC. I mean, can you imagine what a Super Fami-based sequel would have looked and sounded like? O_o

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin! You've never played any of these either? How is that possible? Even Parodius??

Anyway, now you have to give them a try. I think you'll like Pepen ga Pengo and Yume Penguin Monogatari the best, but who knows?

Just be warned that the latter can be pretty tough despite its sugar-coated looks!

warp said...

Great article, but the original Pengo was my first penguin game and will always be my favorite, even though it didn't make your list. I assume that's because you didn't want to have 2 Pengos on here, which is fine, but the games are really different from each other.

Bryan already knows this, but for everybody else, I love the Parodius penguin so much I made a t-shirt of him which you can see me wearing here.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, warp! Yes, I decided I'd only include a single Pengo game in this post, so I went with the MD semi-sequel rather than the original. I love the original, too, though, so don't feel too bad. I also nearly included Antarctic Adventure, but it was edged out by Penguin Kun-Wars, I think...

Kevin said...

All great choices but I have a soft spot in my heart for Penguin Land on Master System! Got a lot of play in my Game Gear too, thanks to that huge cartridge converter.

Bryan Ochalla said...

How could I forget about Penguin Land, Kevin? Granted, I haven't played it all that much, so I guess there's your reason. I do like what I've played of it, though, so thanks for reminding me of it :)

Reggie White Jr. said...

The only game on this list I've played is Parodius Da! Believe it was the arcade and SNES versions I first experienced. Wonderful parody of the Gradius series. Shame none of the games in the series came to the West.

Those other games look and sound very ineresting. I especially like the story behind Yume Penguin Mongotari. Just goes to show that even in the world of video games, love is highly complicated.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Well, color me surprised! I honestly thought the huge majority of folks who read this blog would've heard of all of the games on this list (well, except for maybe Pepen ga Pengo).

Anyway, yes, Reggie, it's a cryin' shame Konami decided to keep us westerners from playing localized/translated versions of the many Parodius games they've made over the years.

As for the rest of the games: I'd highly recommend trying them via emulation if you're up for that sort of thing. They're all pretty different, so you're sure to get a nice assortment of gameplay experiences as you go through them :)

Melody (Lizzi) said...

These games look sooooo cute!!
I love peguins xD
Do you like "Prinny: Can I really be the hero?"?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Melody! I definitely love the Prinny character, but I've never played either of his PSP platformers. Have you? I've heard they're tough as nails, which may be why I've avoided them so far. Might be work picking up at least one of them eventually, though, if I can find a cheap enough copy...

RetroKingSimon said...

Haha, awesome! :) I was only even aware of numbers 2 and 3 prior to this post! I'm immediately interested in the first one too - must play soon!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, glad I could turn you on to a few new games, Simon! And, yes, give Binary Land a try at some point. Its visuals are pretty antiquated, but it's a really unique a fun game to play, in my opinion.

Melody (Lizzi) said...

Yea I got the first Prinny-game on PSP and I loooove it!
But you're right it's really hard.
I even got the original Prinny-plushie! xD
Oh I love my cute little Prinny :3
You really should try the game.
It's great but it's nothing like Disgaea.
Have you played that tactic-game?
I'm not a tactic-person.
That's why I never played Final Fantasy Tactics (as a hughe FF-fan!!!).

Melody (Lizzi) said...

Look at this!
This is my cute little Prinny-Plushie:

But I would die to get this one aswell:

By the way - I will get my copy of " Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times" (NDS) next week.
I will tell you how I like it. :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, yes, Melody, I've tried Disgaea -- and liked it quite a bit. Of course, I loooooove tactics-based RPGs (like Final Fantasy Tactics), so it isn't too surprising.

Anyway, I'll add Prinny to my list of 'to try' games. I can't promise I'll get around to it anytime soon, though!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and your Prinny plushie is adorable, by the way! Was it a pre-order bonus or something? I actually like the looks of it more than the other one you sent a link to, by the way. Not that the other/second one is ugly, of course -- I just don't think it's as cute as the one you have.

As for Magician's Quest: I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it! If it's anything like Animal Crossing, I may have to pick it up myself :)