Penguin Patrol is one of those iOS games. It’s $0.99 and it’s completely throwaway entertainment. The DSiWare version doesn’t magically make it essential gaming, but it’s a quality port, and worth picking out if you haven’t got an iPhone or iPad for the cheaper version.
It’s a puzzle game that sets players the task of wandering around a play field rescuing as many stationary penguins as possible before making their way to the exit. The trick here is the floor of the playing area is made of ice, and there’s only a limited number of times you can step on a square before it disappears and is no longer usable.
This is of course not a new idea in games. Puzzle Dimension immediately springs to mind as a game that does a spectacular job of making a full game out of this basic concept, but Penguin Patrol does a decent job of the layout and difficulty curve. The game spends just long enough with the introductory ‘easy’ levels before throwing players layouts that require some forethought to navigate successfully. Most of the levels are actually really well designed, which is surprisingly uncommon, given the quality of most $0.99 puzzle games.
The challenge is split in two – it’s one thing to collect the minimum number of penguins required and reach the exit, and quite another to collect all the penguins and reach the exit. Perfectionists, then, have something extra to look forward to.
Because this is a turn-based game, there’s no room for controls to go wonky, and overall the interface is pleasantly spartan. It’s nice that the DSiWare game throws in buttons, rather than the swipe based iOS controls, but otherwise the two versions of the game play the same.
With just under 80 levels there’s a lot of content in the game, especially considering how difficult the later levels can become. It’s the kind of game where you’ll want to run through all 80 levels too, thanks to a really charming presentation. As you’d hope from a game where penguins take centre stage, the colours are bright and cheerful and the characters are cute. The music is forgettable, but sweet enough.
Experienced puzzle game fans will be over this very quickly, but it’s a good game for most people thanks to the charm factor. The iPhone or iPad version is better by virtue of the fact they’re cheaper. Still, we’ve seen far worse DSiWare games recently.