Why I love the game Pengo

I don’t get this question too often, and you know what they say about opinions. But, if you are interested, this is why I love the game of Pengo so much.

The return gameplay value of Pengo

For most guys who collect these games, they love them because of their simplicity. It could be the refusal to grow up, it could be nostalgia, but it just isn’t as easy today to just pick up a Wii game and really enjoy it immediately.

For me, I like ‘simplicity’ combined with depth. I think that there are some really ‘simple’ games out there, and most of those games tend to get boring. Games like Pac-man or Space Invaders, where you play the same board over and over, and the objectives are so clear that they’re a snooze.

Pengo is that perfect blend for me. At face level, the game of Pengo is simple. You’re a penguin in a maze type game, and you have to try to not get captured or bitten by the Sno Bees. You run around and kick ice blocks to smash your opponents until you kill them all and advance to the next level. This is a simple idea in concept, and anyone can pick up on this immediately.

But there are a couple of levels of depth that I really like about the game. First, there are multiple ways to kill an enemy and each way has it’s advantages and disadvantages. You can kick the outer walls to vibrate them and when a sno-bee is on the outside, they will be stunned and you can go and walk on them to gather 100 points. But that is the downfall, this is too easy and that is why the reward is 1/4th the value. If you smash a sno bee with a block it’s 400 points. The second method is that the blocks that will hatch new bees will flash briefly at the beginning of the level. If you kick those blocks pinned against another, you smash them, and earn 500 points. This is a more advanced technique and requires some quick memorization, especially when there are a ton of bees and they are moving fast in the upper levels.

The multiple ways to kill the enemy is something that I think is fairly unique across games and that is why I like it.

The second level of depth are the triangle blocks. If you are a beginning player, you will just move through the mazes killing bees. If you are an advanced player, you’ll realize that the biggest points come from getting the triangle blocks in a straight line. There are three of them, and they are worth the most points when they aren’t all touching the walls. Touching the walls the blocks are worth 5,000 points, again reflecting that his is easier. If you join the three blocks together in the main level, you get 10,000 points! Expert players will strive for this every level. What this means is you will memorize where the blocks are in the different layouts and you will have to have a sense of multiple kicks / plays all the while avoiding the enemy.

So, it is these two different characteristics of gameplay that make this such an enjoyable game. Not face value, with appeal to multiple skills. It takes true practice to become really good with the scores and that is there if you want to go for it. But kids, and I guess a lot of women I’ve heard, love this game because of the cute penguin that runs around.

Oh, and for me…this is one game I had access to in the 80’s….with some computer version of it, so it indeed does have some nostalgia to it for me. I think the artwork is generally cool, not as amazing as some games, but a nice overall cabinet design with a nice sloping shape.

These are the reasons I love the game of Pengo.

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