We all need to relax from time to time, as it has been scientifically proved that regular breaks increase productivity, as well as our general wellbeing. This is one of the reasons I decided to present what in my opinion stands for an efficient, brain cooling experience. Pingus is a lemmings-like puzzle game, which, although based on a well-known idea, namely that of combining certain abilities to attain a goal, manages to keep you on your seat in front of the computer, scenario after scenario.
For those of you who don't really know what the lemmings-like game genre is, I'll give a short description, so that when you start playing the game, you will have a general idea of what you have to do. Basically, you have a specific number of penguins from which you have to save some in order to pass the mission. Penguins start showing up in a certain point of the map, and you have to carefully guide them until they reach the exit. For that, every particular mission has certain abilities that you can equip the penguins with, in order to pass over obstacles that stand the way. For instance, you may sometimes need to equip your penguins with floaters (little propellers mounted on their head), so that when they reach a gap, they gently land on the ground, and not hit it at great speed and die. You can also make the penguins jump over gaps to reach a specific point, or better, build a bridge over the gap and never have to worry about making sure every penguin jumps over.
Other situations, like when the exit is lower than the area where the penguins are generated and there's no way to jump or land with a floater, only leave the possibility of digging. Digging is more special in Pingus, as there are practically four kinds of possibilities of doing it. The first is pretty straightforward, simply called digger, transforming a penguin into a cute, very well equipped drill worker that makes a vertical hole from the point where it is standing until there's no soil left to go through, or it reaches a piece of steel. Another possibility is the miner ability, very similar to the digger, but with a difference in terms of direction, as the miner creates not a vertical pathway, but one situated on a 45-degree angle relative to the vertical axis.
The basher is the third ability to allow the creation of tunnels in the ground for the penguin to pass through. Just in case you haven't guessed it already, it allows the penguin to dig the tunnel horizontally, starting from the point where it is at when you equip it with this ability, and ending either on the other side, with the penguin safe and sound, or stopping when reaching steel. The forth and final way of clearing obstacles is also the hardest to master, because it differs fundamentally from the first three. The name is bomber, and it pretty much says all about its purpose; when you select the bomber ability and equip a penguin with it, it doesn't explode right away, but instead a timer is triggered and, when it runs out, boom! This is an explicit sacrifice ability, as there is no way to save the penguin after you make it a bomber. You might think of it as cruel but, trust me, there are cases when there is no other way to complete the mission than by using one or several bombers.
There are other abilities as well, but I'd like to let you discover them and try to use their functionality in an efficient manner. However, there is one last comment I want to make on them. Every time you don't know how to resolve a given scenario, try to think of how you could integrate all the available abilities because, most often than not, the key ability is not the most obvious one.
The graphics of Pingus is satisfying but, given that it's a 2D game designed more for thinking than for being pleasing on the eye, it can be deemed quite good. The entertaining aspect here comes not from superb landscapes or appealing effects, but from the contentment you feel when you finish a mission. Another thing regarding the graphical aspect I’d like to note is the animation used for penguins equipped with a certain ability, the floater being my favorite one.The Good
I am impressed with how such a simple, 2D game could keep me up until 2 in the morning, therefore I cannot but accept that either I'm too competitive to give up, or the game was too good. Seriously now, it's indeed a great game, so I recommend it for relaxing, granted you don't become obsessed with it. The Bad
There would be much to state here if I were to say all the things that I personally would change, but that's not important, since Pingus is a very good game as it is. One thing I must say, though, and that is that there's a drastic shortage of levels. There are only twenty so levels on the Tutorial island (which are quite easy and, therefore, don't count as genuine levels) and eight Halloween maps. Maybe the developer could be kind enough to provide some new ones, or convert some of the levels in older versions to the new format.The Truth
It has some minor, barely visible flaws, and a major downfall - too few levels, in my opinion. On the other hand, if you take the time to complete a scenario (not the Tutorial Island, but the challenging ones in Halloween), I'm sure you'll want to jump right ahead to the next map and try it out. I wish you all a good leadership over the penguins! Below are some shots from my experience with Pingus - but be warned that some may give you the solution to certain scenarios, so if you want to try and find the right way yourself, you'd better skip them after you have installed and started playing the game.