English language edition of Pingu-Party
List Price: $14.95
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(Worth 1,195 Funagain Points!)
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The iceberg is sinking, and the penguins must race to the top!
Penguin is a fast, fun, and very easy to learn game for 2 to 6 players designed by renowned designer, Reiner Knizia. The game features 36 delightfully sculpted plastic penguins in four different families. Players take turns placing the penguins on the stack, creating a pyramid-shaped structure one penguin at a time. The first player to play his last penguin wins the game!
- 36 penguin figures
- 39 penalty point chips
- 6 player screens
- 1 cloth bag
Average Rating: 0.8 in 2 reviews
I was going to simply support everything that Tom Vasel wrote about this game but since I need to write a "quality" review in order to get my comments published here goes.
Full marks for some great looking graphics and some colorful, funky looking plastic penguins.
The game mechanics are simple, real simple. Which color penguins you play with is 100% determined by luck so once you have them behind your screen your only option is to try and figure out how best to play them to get them in position. But since everyone else is in the same position you may as well forget applying any logic. Any attempt to think ahead a few moves can be very quickly destroyed by the random placings of your opponents. Believe me, my four year old took me out!!
I wouldn't mind this because my four year old and even my eight year old get a kick out of sitting down with dad and just playing stuff.
What really messes this game up is the atrocious method for interlocking the penguins. The level of concentration and "fiddling about" needed to get the pyramid to build properly made this a very frustrating game.
When looking for games for my children, I know that they aren’t too difficult to please – bright colors and fun concepts are almost always a winner. More than that, I’m looking for a game that is fun, offers a bit of a challenge, and doesn’t drive Mom and Dad crazy when playing it. The best games are games that appeal to the whole family, even if they are heavily slanted toward the younger set. Penguin (Fantasy Flight Games, 2007 – Reiner Knizia) was one game that when I saw the description was sure that I had a winner. With penguins everywhere, including several popular movies, I was sure that my kids at least would enjoy the game tremendously.
I have to say that Penguin is a huge disappointment in almost every way. The game play is very simple and not really that inspired; but I still wasn’t deterred after reading the rules, because I figured that the game featured a dexterity element to keep it interesting. But the penguins, as bright and cheerful as they are, are one of the most frustrating components of a game – being difficult to stack and play. Both of my girls who tried out the game were unhappy with the pieces, and I was ready to hurl them across the room – not a fun, family experience. With a bit of changes to the components, Penguin could have been a simple yet slightly entertaining game. As it is, it’s practically unplayable.
Each player in the game gets a small screen and draws six to twelve (number depends on the amount of players) plastic penguins from a bag, placing them behind the screen. Penguins are yellow, green, red, and blue and are round plastic figures with two slots near the top for other penguins bottom’s to fit into. A pile of “penalty point” tokens are placed on the table. One player is chosen to go first, and then the game begins.
On a player’s turn, they simply take a penguin from behind their screen and add it to the center of the table (the “iceberg”). Each penguin will be placed so that a pyramid of penguins is formed. When placing penguins on the bottom row, a player simply adds them to either side but may NOT add a penguin to the bottom row if there are eight penguins there – the maximum. Players may also stack a penguin on top of two other penguins but may only do so if the stacked penguin matches one of the two colors of the penguins below it.
If a player causes the penguins to fall while stacking, then they take penalty points equal to the amount of the penguins behind their screen, and then the entire game is reset. Also, if a player cannot play one of their penguins or has used up all their penguins, their turn is over. The round will continue until all players have done this, and then players receive penalty points equal to the number of penguins still behind their screens. If a player gets rid of all their penguins, they may subtract two points from any they have already gathered.
The game is then reset for another round. Players play rounds equal to the number of players, and the player with the most points at the end is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
- Components: Upon opening the brightly colored, wonderfully
illustrated box, players are presented with a pile of large, chunky
plastic penguins. A black cloth bag is included to help when
randomly drawing the penguins in the beginning, and the player
screens, which are a bit flimsy, and penalty point chips have nice
designing and look pretty good on the table. The problem lies with
those colorful but annoying penguins. The penguins have a round base,
which means that when they are being set down, it’s quite easy to
twist them to any facing. However, they must all face EXACTLY the
same way for the penguins on top of them to be placed properly, since
they have two slots that face in one direction. If a penguin is only
a little tilted in one direction, the above penguin cannot be placed
well. The penguins themselves do not slide into these slots very
well, and it is a VERY difficult task for younger children to stack
them properly. I myself had a difficult time, and would struggle to
get a penguin in, only to find that I had aligned it wrong for those
penguins that would be placed on top of it!
- Dexterity: Once the penguins are wedged into place, it’s unlikely
that they will fall at all, making the dexterity part of the game
suspect at best. The game doesn’t have any real rules that dictate
how a player places the penguins, so we were using two hands and
exerting some real effort as we attempted to get the penguins into
place. This was annoying enough that it was soon decided in both
games I played that stacking penalty wouldn’t happen. With wooden
blocks or something else that was easier to stack, this might have
been a nifty dexterity game. As is, it’s pretty bad.
- Game: But really, without the dexterity element – there’s nothing
left. With all respect to the good doctor, I think this is one of the
times that Reiner Knizia’s name got a mediocre (or worse) game
published. Since a player has no control over the penguins they draw,
the game becomes a simple one of simply placing penguins in such a way
to allow a player to get them all on the table. But with a few moves
by other players (often inadvertently), a player will find themselves
out of luck. The game is fairly random and too simple for most adults.
- Kids: I don’t mind the game being too simple for adults, if it’s
challenging and fun for children. But while Penguins may offer some
nice choices for young ones (and I think these choices are obscured by
the annoying components), the fact that all points scored are negative
is really not a kid-friendly idea. Kids want to get points – to work
towards a goal. Getting negative points simply because they didn’t
get all their penguins on the pile isn’t a positive aspect and
something that’s difficult to explain to younger elementary.
- Fun Factor: As I look this review over, I see that I haven’t said
many positive things about the game. So I will state that I enjoy the
cartooney artwork and bright pieces. Unfortunately, that’s not enough
to make a game fun; and both kids and adults unilaterally rejected it.
Fantasy Flight makes great games from Through the Desert to War of the Ring and has wonderful games in many genres. This game, however, is one that I cannot recommend to anyone. With some component fixing, perhaps the game would be of interest to younger children, having a dexterity flair; but right now everyone that I have tried it with has found it lacking. Penguin is simply not fun.
“Real men play board games”