Penguin Land (SMS)

Penguin Land Box Art

Penguin Land

System: SMS

Release Date: January 1988

Developer: Sega

Publisher: Sega

Genre: Puzzle

Ugh… Penguin Land… this is a puzzle game in the vein of Lode Runner. I hated Lode Runner. While this is slightly more playable, it certainly isn’t playable enough to be good. You are Penguin Mission Commander Overbite and you are tasked with getting a fragile penguin egg from the beginning of each round to the end, where it is returned to the Spaceship Crew.

Look how cool Overbite is with his sunglasses and cigarette.

Overbite must dig through floors and drop the egg safely through a puzzle of floors. Obstacles you run into are Gangow, a wild polar bear that loves to punch at Overbite and the eggs. If he hits the egg, it will crack, costing you a life. If he hits Overbite, you will lose precious time as he is knocked unconscious and respawns at the top of the screen. If the egg is left in one place too long, while you contemplate your next move, Cameel, a condor, will drop a brick on the egg, cracking it. You need to be quick in order to stop them. You also have to be on the lookout for a masher trap, which will crush you and your egg.

A typical floor in the round. Notice the masher trap and Gangow. The egg needs to avoid both.

Overbite can dig through the normal floor in order to make drop areas for the egg. However, he can only dig to the left or the right of the block he’s currently standing on and only if it doesn’t have another block on top of it. If you don’t leave room to the left or the right to dig a hole, you can get the egg stuck and your only recourse is to smash it yourself. The puzzles are unforgiving in the sense that if you mess up your dig, you’re probably trapped, but I did notice multiple solutions to the same level of the round.

A picture of the editor. You don’t get all the different possible obstacles.

I was ready to wrap this review up and thought, I should try the editor and I’m glad I did. I made a level in pretty quick order. I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to different puzzles that would be tackled, but I ended up with a pretty challenging round. There were a couple of spots I needed to revise because there was no solution I could come up with, but once I added a couple dropping blocks to kill bears and made it so it was possible to dig through the last layer of rock, I had a successful level.

Graphics: 1.5

The graphics are a little less than average. Certainly not up to the standards set by Alex Kidd.

Sound: 1.0

The song got annoying after awhile and the sound effects are nothing to write home about.

Gameplay: 2.0

Gameplay was originally worse, but playing with the editor doubled the score.

Difficulty: 3.0

I’ll give this puzzle game a fairly high mark. Once you understand how the different blocks relate, you can learn how to see the puzzles as they come.

Fun Factor: 1.5

Again, this was an area that was going to rate lower until I played with the editor. I could see friends making difficult levels for each other. That would have been a lot of fun.

Overall Grade: 1.8

Penguin Land eeks out a C. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it when I booted it up and started playing, but it grew on me.

Penguin Land Video Review on YouTube

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