Super Penguins iOS Review

Not a day goes by that there aren’t hundreds of new apps hitting the iOS app store and Google Play, most of which are terrible, broken, or just plain rip-offs. So much, in fact, that a lot of good games are lost under the junk. Is Super Penguins worthy of floating to the surface? Is it even worthy of writing an article about it? There are now dozens of clones out there based on any moderately popular game. You only need to search for “Angry” to find hundreds of apps trying to steal some of Rovio’s fans, like Angry Words, for example – that can’t be a coincidence. But is Super Penguins the clone, or the game others will rip-off in a few months time?

I’ll start by saying that Super Penguins is indeed a free game, because I know that many people judge games on their price, and to a lot of people it doesn’t even matter what the price is: it’s either free or too expensive. Personally I believe you get what you pay for, and Super Penguins only proves my theory.

The aim of the game is to run as far as possible without crashing into various hazards whilst collecting as many fish as you can. By tilting your portable device left and right, your little blue friend will weave in and out of obstacles, with any luck. Without a specific power-up, most hazards will end your run upon impact, rewarding you with fish depending on your distance travelled. Hazards include large falling icicles that block your path; octopuses that will spit ink on your screen, temporarily limiting your view; and anchors that fall from the sky…for some reason. As you run further, the icy land itself will start to crumble away and gaps become more frequent and much closer together.

Just like other similar games out there I’m sure you have played, your distance travelled means nothing more than a high score. What you really want to aim for – at the beginning, at least – is the little fishies! With this slimy currency you can buy power-ups, upgrade them, and purchase new playable characters. However, you can only buy one power-up prior to each run. If you wanted to waste your valuable fish on power-ups that you possibly wouldn’t survive long enough to use anyway, you couldn’t. But you should be able to – wouldn’t that make things more interesting? But anyway, more power-ups can be acquired by freeing little penguins that you will find amongst enemies shouting “Help!” You also have the option to buy another life at the end of a run, but that option is much more expensive than if you were to buy an extra life prior to starting.

The power-ups unfortunately offer nothing new to anything I have seen before; in fact you can probably guess what they are right now. Power-ups collected during a run are moderately helpful but only last for a few seconds; however, they can be upgraded with a hefty amount of fish. These power-ups include temporary invincibility, x4 fish value, fish sucker (basically a vacuum for fish), a crate full of fish and a rocket boost that will skip a few hundred metres. Apart from double jump, pre-run power-ups aren’t really that useful and you may only ever buy them once just to see how useless they are. They consist mainly of boosting abilities (the first 300m, 500m or 1000m depending on what you can afford), and lowering a specific hazard count. The first 1000m is very easy anyway, and basically just serves as an easy source of currency, making these power-ups a waste of good fish in my opinion.

Everything you may purchase in Super Penguins is pretty expensive. Even if you spend a huge £13.99 through in-app-purchases, you may still only buy a couple of the eight playable characters or fully upgrade only one of the six abilities. This implies that Super Solid were confident that people playing this game would spend a great deal of time or money on it, but not quite confident enough to publish it ad-free…? Despite being a free game, if they want people to play and enjoy their game and invest some serious game time or money into it, they should seriously remove the ads.

The game is reasonably nice on the eyes, mainly due to its bright, happy, coloured characters and environment, but I simply can’t get my head around the fact that most 3D iOS games have extremely low-poly assets, and Super Penguins is no exception. I don’t think some companies realise how powerful these devices are, or are just scared of spending a little longer on development to achieve something that actually stands out amongst that heap of crap I mentioned earlier.

To a certain extent, I did enjoy Super Penguins and certainly found it more enjoyable than most of the free games out there, but at the end of the day I would be lying if I said it was new and original, or even if I said it was completely different to Temple Run. But that’s OK, because I bet that was also a clone of another clone. Super Solid have played it safe with this title by recreating what we all know has been successful in the past, but unfortunately not meeting expectations as a full, complete game (even if it is free).

5 out of 10