By Eric Pankoke on Tue, 10/02/2012
I have a problem, and it’s called infinite runners for my iOS device. I don’t recall which one I first latched on to, but especially since the dawn of the Temple Run style game I’ve gotten hooked on so many I could probably fill a couple home pages up with them. To that end I’ve decided to take a week long look at the latest offerings in this genre. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get reviews for a week straight, but rather my next five entries will be related to this addictive style of game play. The first entry in my series is Super Penguins, the premiere offering from newcomers Supersolid Ltd. I have to say they’re off to a pretty good start.
You are a penguin trying to recover all your precious fish from some nasty octopi. In order to reclaim all of your scaly delicacies you’ll need to navigate a lot of randomly generated real estate, picking up all the fish you find and avoiding pretty much everything else. In true infinite runner fashion the game handles the running for you. You tilt the device left and right to move the penguin accordingly, and tap the screen to jump. Interestingly enough there is no swipe to turn mechanism involved here, so you can actually play this game with one hand if you’d like.
What makes this game so entertaining is the constantly changing terrain. Land will rise up or fall away creating gaps or walls you have to jump over. Pillars collapse, huge icicles falls and giant anchors get tossed in your way. Occasionally large octopi even slam a tentacle in your path. You’ll often run across logs which are really neat because as you tilt your device they actually spin with you. This is especially fun when you face the ones where you travel inside of them. Power ups are gained via rescuing penguins and come in the form of things like a vacuum that sucks up fish and an invincibility suit that turns you into Godzilla-penguin for a short period of time.
Collecting fish allows you to shop for upgrades to your power ups as well as instant power ups that only apply to the next time you play. Basically you need to decide if you’d rather have permanent boosts or waste all your money on items that you get to use once. If you like the idea of an extra life when you die, though, buy that before you run because it’s 1000 fish before the run and 4500 fish if you buy when you die. There are also five different penguins available – 1 to start with, two unlockable using fish, one if you like the developer on Facebook and the final one if you spend $20 in IAP. There are plenty of Game Center achievements to earn which is nice, but one of them requires the IAP unlockable penguin, so basically you have to spend $20 to get all the achievements, which is not cool.
The graphics are actually really good in Super Penguins. All the characters look pretty sharp, and there are lots of fun details in the background. I love watching the landscape change as you’re running, though you need to be careful and not let that distract you from actually dodging things. It’s cool seeing killer whales jump from one side of the screen to the other as you’re running along, and you can even see the big octopi waving their tentacles around before you get close enough for them to slam one at you. The sound effects suit the game well, and you actually feel kind of sorry for the penguins when you hear the big smack that accompanies them crashing into an object. The music fits right in, and while it can get repetitive you’ll probably be so busy you won’t notice.
I was worried that this would be “just another runner”, and truthfully in a lot of ways it is. But it’s also just enough different that it feels like its own game. It will definitely appeal to the kids, but it’s challenging enough to give adults a run for their money as well. I do think the qualifications to unlock the various characters is a bit steep, especially since it’s required in order to get all the achievements. Otherwise I’d say this is a charming addition to anyone’s infinite runner collection.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4 running iOS 5.1.1.