Halloween Party 2014 Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

With October well over with and November now in full swing, we can all reflect on October and agree it was a pretty successful month – as it usually is. The collaboration of two classic annual parties is something that isn’t seen in any other month of the year. I’ve already reviewed the 9th Anniversary party and, whilst it certainly wasn’t the biggest or most surprising of the series, it still gave us some originality that we see so much less of nowadays. This post focuses on a party that not only is the biggest of the October duo, but arguably the biggest in the calendar year – every year. Now, let’s begin.

Plot

The Puffle Hotel served as the fundamental location this time. Supposedly haunted by ghostly goings-on, Gary informed us that his Great Uncle Gariwald VIII (the same from Halloween 2012) had gone missing in the Hotel which now has a staggering 13 floors. Upon entering the Hotel and being introduced with a new Hotel bellhop named Skip, narrative thus far was actually a narrative. Something was happening other than Cadence’s friends coming to visit. A very, very welcome change. Though not as in-depth and complex as the plot during Operation: Blackout (arguably the best party ever in terms of plot), it definitely felt refreshing to actually have a story. An interesting story at that (come on, who didn’t want to know what happened to Gary’s ghost of a great uncle?!).

After extensive waiting and puzzle solving, we found out that Skip was actually an evil ghost whom stole the Ghost Puffles (and Gariwald) in order to extract their energy using his dodgy machines in order to haunt the island. Not only this, but he also tricks and ultimately traps the player. After escaping thanks to Gariwald’s blatant hints on how to do so, Skip is then defeated, flies away and the island is saved. Hurray! Wait, shouldn’t we do something about an evil ghost who just got away? No? Oh, alrighty then.

Despite containing a giant twist that very few saw coming, Skip seemed lacking in character somewhat. He was seemingly trying to terrorise the island – but why exactly? Herbert has his reasons for his evil plans, but Skip just seemed to be a random annoyed ghost whom had a lust for scaring everyone. At one point, he states that he’s not letting you mess his plans up as “It’s his ticket to the big leagues”. What does this even mean? Does he want to be famous or something? I would’ve preferred Skip to have more of a motive behind his actions. Instead, he seems to be a little fame-obsessed. And dead. Definitely dead. Regardless, the plot, despite its’ several flaws, it still manages to engage and indeed shock the player which is certainly a welcome addition that makes the 2014 version of the Halloween Party unique when compared to the others. Will Skip return someday though?

Puzzles/Quests

Quests containing puzzles have been the norm for a majority of parties this year and the Halloween Party 2014 is no exception. Whilst some of the puzzles were fun and required some thinking, others were lacking in comparison. For example, in one room user’s had to simply click on pumpkins to crush them. That’s not really a puzzle or challenging. I guess the challenge was to figure out what to do as opposed to finding out how to do it.

The final puzzle was to free Gariwald and the Ghost Puffles and to ultimately stop Skip from haunting the island. However, Gariwald’s hints were a huge giveaway. He basically instructed the player how to do escape the cage and distract Skip. Not to mention anyone who’s been a member of the EPF for several years would probably of had a case of deja vu, as the recycling of puzzles became evident (throwing snowballs at a power box…sounds familiar).

This party also saw the re-introduction of the infamous ‘come back every day’ feature. Many dislike this as it means they have to log in every day to complete a puzzle/earn items. This was once the norm for many of CP’s parties and served as a cheap way to get more penguins logging in. However, more recent parties such as the Frozen Party didn’t include this feature and instead allowed player’s to complete all the puzzles (if you could call em’ that) in 10 minutes or less if the player wanted to.

I personally felt the [Frozen] party seemed to be far too easy and quick to finish, which is a complete juxtaposition of its’ lengthy duration. Yes, it worked in the older days due to parties being simplistic and having a short duration of a few days, but since newer parties last so long, I feel the ‘come back every day’ feature works better. If player’s really dislike this that much, then simply log in on the final day when everything is unlocked. Simple!

Decorations

Contrary to what several believed when they saw an unreleased screenshot of the Plaza from CP’s files, the whole island was indeed decorated with the iconic dark night sky. Though there wasn’t a storm this time, the night sky always brings a completely new atmosphere to the island and this has made many want a night/day feature on the island, as well as some weather conditions that we’ve on rare occasions in the past (The Great Storm of 2010 included dark clouds and even rain!).

The Hotel and its’ interior were both decorated for once. Though, these rooms were the focal point on the party and thus had to be decorated. Most rooms had returned from previous years, including the slime pool in the Underground Pool which never seems to get any attention at all anymore. Some rooms however, mainly the interiors of the Plaza (bar the Hotel) and the Town (not including the Coffee Shop during the Anniversary) remained undecorated, which is slightly disappointing but when compared to all parties this year the decorations are huge.

One aspect that disappointed me was Ski Hill. Yes, it had the pumpkin scarecrow and the night sky, but the cave that apparently belongs to the Sasquatch didn’t glow. Why would it, you ask? Aunt Arctic stated in the CP Times that the cave was rumoured to glow at night – indicating that someone or something lived there. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case during the eternal darkness of a  fortnight and personally I believe CP missed out on the perfect opportunity to reboot this rumour. Ah well, maybe they’re saving it for when night and day comes to the island? Who knows..

Items

I always love Halloween items. They’re usually spooky with a comedic twist that makes them popular throughout the whole year. During CP’s youth, the Ghost and Clown Costumes were both very popular items, and this hasn’t changed much throughout the years. In the case of the 2014 version, all the free items were new. Non-Members were treated to a series of head and hand items, including a Magic Hat, a Ghostly Suitcase, a Little Jack’O’Lantern on a chain leash and even a jar of Newt eyes (amongst others).

As always, Member’s got their added bonus of even more items, such as a Web Hoodie, Spectral Ghost Costume, Ghost Puffle Costume, Skeleton Mask and Shadow Wings. These items obviously were a range of body items and not just limited to head and hand like with the non-members. In total, non-members got 7 items and members got 14 (including those available for everyone) which is a large amount for any party. So in this respect, the party did definitely not disappoint. However, I would’ve liked a bigger variety of items as opposed to the majority being for the head/hands.

Verdict

2014 hasn’t been the best year in terms of parties. We all know that. The Halloween Party 2014 stands out a lot more this year than it has any other year. The lack of a proper narrative structure and a plethora of decorations in the majority of parties this year means that this and indeed any other recent Halloween Party would stand out in 2014. I personally found that this year’s version was a positive approach that I hope CP continues into the remainder of the year. Whilst not perfect, and doesn’t compare to my all time fave (2008 – the thunderstorm, the scavenger hunt, introduction of ninjas…awesome), it’s still a great party that’s firmly earned its’ place as my favourite of the year thus far. Will the Pirate Party or Holiday Party 2014 change this? I sure hope so!

So that ends yet another critical review. We now only have two more parties left of 2014. As we already know, November will be the month of pirates as the Pirate Party returns along with everyone’s favourite and somewhat neglected captain. Many speculate we will be finally able to reach Rockhopper Island for the first time, which would be interesting to say the least. That all kicks off on the 20th, let’s hope its’ amazing!

Random CP Fact #31: Players used to be able to type numbers in the first couple of years in Club Penguin. This was eventually changed as many were sharing personal information such as their phone numbers. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

9th Anniversary Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Ah October, what a fantastic month. Not only do we get the beloved Halloween party, but we also get the awesome CP Anniversary party that always takes place in the Coffee Shop and features cake and of course – that rare hat. For these reasons, it’s no wonder why October is one of the most favoured months within the community. However, with the controversy of 2014 parties thus far, how did the Anniversary party stack up to previous years? This post will be a review of the 9th Anniversary. For Halloween fans, don’t worry! That will be written shortly after this one’s published. Now, onto the review!

Backstory

The Anniversary party has always been a fine tradition on the island ever since the first way back in 2006. As the name suggests, it is an annual party to celebrate CP’s birthday and always takes place on October 24th. Occurring for one day only, the Anniversary was once the only place you could pick up a rare party hat that would never return. The colours changed every year and many penguins flew (not literally – penguin’s cant fly) to their drawing boards in an effort to design their own versions in hope it would be the real thing. The Coffee Shop was the focal point in terms of room renovation (as it is one of the oldest rooms on the island) as that was, for the most part, where the hat and cake were located. Decorations include cakes, drinks and formerly the fire extinguisher gag CP used to use every year. On rare occasions, other rooms were decorated such as the Book Room and even the Town. However, with CP’s new 2-week-per-party policy, the Anniversary has had to share its’ uptime with the spooky Halloween Party – creating a somewhat odd collaboration between scaring people and celebrating a birthday. Okay then!

Anyway, since these parties both collide nowadays, it means that the Anniversary party has to play second-best to arguably the island’s biggest party of the year. That’s a bit harsh for CP’s smallest annual party of the year in terms of decorations, music and items. So, with this in mind, how did the 9th compete with its’ scarier bigger sibling?

Spoilers..

No this isn’t a warning by me or anything regarding spoilers that will spoil the fun of the anniversary the day before it ends. Instead, this was CP’s doing. 2 weeks before the party started. That’s right, CP revealed the party hat design 2 weeks before the party started. Since this is the major point of interest for this party, that is extremely disappointed. When I was younger, I used to be extremely excited whenever October arrived – particularly back in 2007 before I’d attended any Anniversary party. Guessing the party hat colours was one thing, actually logging in and finding a plethora of penguin’s wearing the actual thing was another. Spoiling this destroyed the entire event in my opinion, more so than the Halloween party does.

Even worse, CP didn’t just spoil the hat. In the Newspaper they also showed a segment of the decorated room (including part of the cake and table). That’s truly a new low in terms of spoilers. In the Newspaper of all places, many penguins would see that by mistake and no doubt be ultimately disappointed. A birthday surprise? The only surprise was whether the design will be the classic version or the modernised and oversized version.

Decorated Rooms

Or should that be room? If there was one word to describe CP’s decorative choices in terms of complete rooms it would be minimal. Like prior anniversaries, the Coffee Shop is the only decorated room for the anniversary. No Book Room decor, not even a banner on the Coffee Shop exterior to announce that the party was underway. I feel sorry for new penguins who have no idea about the concept of the anniversary parties – they would literally have no idea it was happening without entering the Coffee Shop!

For the Coffee Shop itself, decorations aren’t bad. Sure, they don’t compete to previous years. They even fail to compete with last year’s museum approach (and they even had a free Old Town background which was a nice touch). This year however, it seems like a day at most was spent designing everything this mini-party has to offer. Such a shame for a party that once had a lot of publicity on the island. Now it simply gets one decorated room and the odd newspaper mention. Does CP care about their own birthday?

Duration

Traditionally, the anniversary party only lasted one day which made the exclusive hat even rarer. Slowly the duration has increased. Two days…three days…a week. That’s what we got last year and the same applies this year. A week long Anniversary that started one day before the actual anniversary date. Genius. Of course, this was done on a Thursday at the same time as the Halloween party went online. Personally, I’d prefer it to start on the actual correct date and have a banner outside highlighting the party’s existence. Otherwise, why not just add the hat to everyone’s inventory who logs in? It’d surely save time..(not that I want this to happen, I enjoy the music and decorations, the more the merrier!). Nonetheless, a week is far too long for a party that used to pride itself on being limited edition – along with the hat it offered.

Other Stuff

Like with past anniversaries, Aunt Arctic was the visiting mascot. Past and current staff members also logged in to celebrate the occasion. Although it’s nice CP staff still do this, it still doesn’t compare to the 3rd and arguably best Anniversary party of all time. The entire Town was decorated, CP toys were officially released (and where are they now?) and there was a live broadcast from New York Times Square celebrating the occasion. It really seems to have gone down hill since then, which is, as I’ve said, a major shame.

As always, the Book Room got a new addition to its’ widely popular shelf – the Yearbook 2013/14. Unfortunately, much like the anniversary party, it doesn’t make for an interesting read when compared with the first several. Back then we had a paragraph of information for every party. Now, we get a sentence containing the briefest overview imaginable. In all honestly, it’s like the team didn’t really try for this party. But why would there? There are no member benefits whereas the Halloween party has the potential to have plenty.

Verdict

The Anniversary remains one of the few annual parties that is guaranteed to get its’ place into CP’s yearly plans. Whilst the 9th may not be the biggest or best we’ve ever had, at least it wasn’t all bad. We got a free hat, had the opportunity to meet Aunt Arctic and some current/former staff members and ultimately got a Halloween party to accompany it. 2014 has had some very poor moments that I’m sure we all agree on and this month seems to have lifted hopes for the rest of the year. So we have that to thank of October at least.

Personally, I like to think of this anniversary as the calm before the storm. Next year marks the biggest milestone in the history of CP – a massive 10 years since launch. CP would make one of the biggest mistakes in their history if they don’t do something major for that. I’m sure they have something planned, until then we have the rest of 2014 and the majority of 2015 to enjoy. Here’s to the Pirate Party!

Random CP Fact #30: Despite being on the game since the beginning, The Coffee Shop actually debuted on Penguin Chat 3, where it was very similar to how the Coffee Shop used to look in CP.

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Puffles, Pirates & Parties!

Greetings Penguins!

There’s been a few announcements this week – both official and unofficial – that have sparked interest amongst the community and have interested me personally. As the title so obviously suggests as usual, this post will be regarding the three P’s. Also, before I start, a slight warning – as usual, this post will contain some ranting and my own opinions on certain events and features.

Puffles

This year we’ve seen the introduction of many, many puffles. 5 different species to be exact (not including different coloured variants) have found themselves on the island this year. All of these however have been what CP dubs as Puffle Creatures, aka Puffles based on real animals (or other things such as snowmen and ghosts). Personally, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Puffles introduced this year. Traditionally, we were lucky to get 1 a year. Each one was a unique colour with carefully constructed animations and personalities. Nowadays, it simply seems CP are abusing the pets to try and persuade people to buy Memberships which is quite sad, really.

Some may argue that, after the Golden and Rainbow Puffles were introduced, CP had done pretty much all they could in terms of the standard colours. Sure, different shades and hues of each colours could be added, but it wouldn’t be as exciting as the first time penguin’s spotted the Yellow Puffle during the Halloween Party of 2007. Whilst I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Puffle Creatures (I find them slightly out of context and quite frankly, unimaginative), if they had to be introduced I’d prefer maybe 1 or 2 sets of a certain species per year. Not 5! The worst part, there’s more on the way.

So thus far, we have seen the introduction of Dog, Cat, Dinosaur, Snowman and Spooky (Ghost) Puffle Creatures. All of which are available exclusively to Members and all but the Dog and Cat have been party-exclusive. As many of you will know, CP plan to launch a puzzle app called Puffle Wild within the upcoming months. This app will allow you to unlock even more Puffle Creatures, 4 different species to be exact. These are the Racoon, Bunny, Moose and Unicorn Puffles. That makes the grand total of Puffle Creatures introduced in 2014 to a whopping 9. 9!

The mass introduction of Puffles this year seems way over the top, so much so it has devalued Puffles to the point where many are no longer excited about the introduction of a new one. I’d prefer to see more personalities and animations integrated into each one. If a Yellow Puffle is artistic and creative then why doesn’t the Yellow Dinosaur Puffle adopt any of these characteristics? Anyway, time to move on.

Pirates

A surprise leak was found this week. This time it was the code in CP’s files that pretty much confirmed November’s party. That’s right, our old almost-forgotten friend Rockhopper will be returning to throw a grand Pirate Party! There have been two Pirate Parties thus far, one in 2007 and one in 2008 (though the latter was officially known as Rockhopper’s Arrival Party – most of the decorations and items were re-used from the previous one). Not much at all is known about this party other than it will not be limited to one room as the Plaza, Dock and Snow Forts appear to be decorated (or so the code says).

I’m looking forward to this one in particular. However, the absence of anything Card-Jitsu or Sasquatch related is a little disappointing. I hope there’s plenty of classic and new decorations and an awesome quest to compensate!

Parties

Whilst briefly touched upon in the Pirates section, we can be certain what parties will conclude the rest of the year. Next week marks the introduction of the Anniversary and Halloween parties. Whilst the Anniversary is always a grand event, it seems to have been spoiled somewhat this year due to CP blatantly releasing the hat design (red and purple) which is slightly disappointing. I want to log in and find out for myself on the day, not weeks beforehand. Why would CP do this? Possibly to take the focus off the party and more so on the Halloween party which promises to be the biggest of the year thus far? Who knows.

As proven in my previous post, the entire island will be decorated for Halloween. This is especially exciting considering 2014’s lack of decorated rooms thus far. Sure, some have been exceptionally well decorated (the Mall, Cruise Ship etc), many rooms were left with no love at all – which was disappointing.

December will contain the beloved Holiday Party. Literally nothing about it is known so far but I’m sure it will contain the typical Winter-themed decorations, plenty of lights and the awesome sky to go along with it. Hopefully it will be the biggest yet to make up for this year’s lack of groundbreaking parties. No more Takeovers have been hinted at either, so I think we’re safe from those until 2015, happy days!

And thus concludes yet another lengthy post with no pictures. I simply wanted to put my point and opinions across which I hope made an interesting read. If not, be sure to let me know what you’d like to be included in future posts/rants/critical reviews etc. Thanks for reading!

Random CP Fact #29: The Sailor Hat has featured at both Pirate Parties in the past. The rare Red and Black Sailor Shirt featured at the most recent in 2008. It is unknown whether any of these items will see a return next month, though due to the older art-style, it’s very unlikely.

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Halloween Party 2014 – Why the Puffle Hotel won’t be the only Decorated Building

Greetings Penguins!

Although I promised that the next post will be regarding pins, I decided to postpone that until a later date due to a certain rumour that’s risen over the past week. This rumour relates to the upcoming Halloween Party and the theory that only one major building will be decorated, in case you somehow didn’t notice in the title.

Basically, many penguins saw a sneak peek of the Plaza during the Halloween Party within CP’s files and immediately noticed a huge problem with it. The sneak peek in question can be seen below:

sneakpeekpuffle

As you can see, the Puffle Hotel is the only decorated building in sight. Even the Pet Shop and Pizza Parlour – two rooms that see regular renovation during the Halloween parties have been ignored. The most significant missing piece of this screen shot is of course, the night sky that has become a regular feature of the Halloween parties. There are some clouds yes, but this seems to only cover the Puffle Hotel which is said to have 13 floors.

This has meant that a huge amount of penguins have become extremely disappointed. Has one of the biggest and best parties of the year has become restricted to just this one building that everybody ignores at every other time of year? With recent parties, much fewer rooms have been decorated (during the infamous Music Jam 2014 in particular) but this takes things too far. Why did they do this? Why did they destroy such an iconic party? Well, they didn’t. Here’s why.

Tradition

CP has always been big on tradition, whether its’ including a fire extinguisher at the earlier Anniversary parties (penguin’s can’t blow!) or having an excessive amount of boxes at the once loved April Fools party. Okay so I’m aware this year has broken a few traditions – the perfect example again being the Music Jam 2014. But seriously, the Halloween party has been a fairly similar event in terms of decorations for years now. The dark sky has been used since 2006 – there is no way they will remove it now; especially since CP has received much criticism for lack of room designs.

This is pre-release work

The party is still a few weeks away, the team will be adding final touches to it right about now (they’ve probably actually finished it and are working on next month’s stuff!). This sneak peek appears to be quite early in the development process, it seems illogical to presume that this is exactly how the room/party will look once released in two weeks time. We’re also unsure of how long this sneak peek has been in CP’s files.

This is a full, almost 2-week party

This may seem obvious, but the party starts on 23rd October and ends on 5th November. There is no way only one building throughout the island would be decorated for something as highly anticipated as the Halloween Party. You may argue that many thought the same of the Music Jam, but don’t forget it took place on an entire new part of the island (the Cruise Ship), introduced new characters, a new game and still other rooms were decorated (though some very minor and some were recycled from past parties). Still, it’d seem ridiculous for CP not to decorate more for a party that is always big in terms of web traffic.

False Advertising

I know what you’re thinking. What does Jim mean by false advertising? Well, it’s quite simple. CP has already given us an official sneak peek of a segment of the Plaza already – and it certainly contrasts with the one shown above that many believe to be final. This official sneak peek I talk about can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 17.50.27

Notice something? Well, the sky is certainly dark. Not only this, but the Pet Shop is also decorated with a giant Bat Puffle statue. Yes, it’s the same as last years but that’s forgivable when CP are introducing a bunch of new floors to the Puffle Hotel – including Spooky Puffles and other items etc. Will this be how the Plaza looks during the party’s release? Yes, otherwise it’d be false advertising. The log in screen contains everything else that’s already been confirmed (Spooky Puffles, new costumes and the ghastly-looking Puffle Hotel), so you can bet that the party will be island-wide, and include that famous dark night sky that has become a fan-favourite since its’ debut in 2006.

So, what’s with the barely-decorated sneak peek then?

To put it simply, the original sneak peek shows the new decorations at this month’s party. CP will design rooms separately and then apply them all together to create the final room we see at the party’s launch (this would be much quicker than having an individual work on the entire room). I’m confident that the updated Puffle Hotel will be placed on top of last year’s decorations (for the Plaza at least) – thus integrating seamlessly and being true to the artwork on the Homepage.

You may also notice that the sneak peek contains many missing pieces – particularly text which CP adds later for each respective language. The clouds also wouldn’t fit in a warm-blue sky colour, alongside traditional white clouds. It would just be extremely inconsistent and look rather stupid. Especially considering the log in screen shows lightning flashing above the tower – which wouldn’t be very visible during the day!

Overall, I hope I’ve cleared things up regarding this upcoming party. Of course, we don’t know exactly how the party will be received, will it be a huge success or a downgrade from previous versions? What we do know however, is that it will more than likely be very similar to last years decorations-wise. CP has spent time working on other stuff for this party, so expect a Halloween 2013 party with a new plot, new items, a new Puffle and a Puffle Hotel to explore. Exciting stuff!

Random CP Fact #28: The Spooky Puffle will be the 21st Puffle to be available for Penguin’s to adopt – this includes Puffle Creatures such as the Cat and Dog Puffle. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

School & Skate Party Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Okay, we know the score by now. These posts are basically reviews reflecting on a party that has recently ended. The aim of these is to identify points where the specified party which were done well, and ways it could’ve been improved. You all know this by now, so let’s get going!

This month’s review focuses on the School & Skate Party; a brand new unsponsored party that aimed to bring the fun of school into our favourite virtual world. But was the party an A-Grade masterpiece or did everyone want it to graduate as soon as possible? Well, upon its’ announcement many penguins flocked (not literally, they can’t fly..) to Twitter in order to voice their opinion. For the most part, responses were negative. Why would CP introduce school to the island? A widely-hated part of our lives, it certainly isn’t fun for everyone – and CP knows that. To overcome this, they tried to incorporate the fun things that school contains, like skating, apparently.

The Tiring Quest

Like almost all of the 2014 parties, this one also contained a Quest. Upon logging in you were instantly made aware of this, as the forceful messages almost demand that you do these quests before even trying to acknowledge your friends. Like last month’s Frozen Party, penguins had to find objects in a certain room in order to receive items. Unlike the Frozen Party however, the objects weren’t as easy. This is a good thing as the Snowflakes of the Frozen Party were easier to find than the gigantic modern pins. Regardless, finding the objects is still easy when you’re directed to each room that contains them. Why not spread them over the island and let penguins discover them themselves?

One major issue with this month’s quest was that of repetition. It’s just like last month’s party but with a different context. Why CP insists on using the same quests for several parties in succession is beyond me. Mix it around a little, otherwise parties begin to feel far too similar to eachother – and not in a good way. Scavenger hunts in the form of the Easter Egg hunt or the Halloween candy hunt were fun. The eggs/candy weren’t that easy to find, we weren’t bombarded with log in screens that transported you the room but instead got given clues as to which room an egg/candy could be found. There also wasn’t one every party which maintained the excitement.

Skate Park – Half Full or Half Empty?

This party saw the introduction of a brand new room – the Skate Park. A room that’s focused on Members (but not restricted to), it allows the purchase of Skateboards followed by the ability to do tricks in this room alone. Whilst an alright idea, I’d of preferred to see this as a mini-party which we didn’t see in September. Instead, we have a room that is unlikely to be used much if at all. Is it necessary? Not really, I can’t imagine myself using it whatsoever and I know many others feel the same way.

Recently, Polo Field announced that there would never be any new plays at The Stage due to it not being used. So why introduce a new room that has the same fate? The Cove was added way back in 2007 to provide a Summer-themed location all-year round and introduced surfing. The Lighthouse and Beacon were added in 2006 to provide penguins with the ability to spot The Migrator on the horizon, and thus had contextual purpose. A Skate Park however? I just fail to see the reason why.

Other Decorations

The entire island was decoration for this party. LOL JKS, no but seriously, we’ve come to expect to much with modern parties in terms of decorations. They aren’t as minimal as the Music Jam, but still few and far between when you consider the entire island. The Plaza, Mine Shack and University got a makeover with the best decoration in my opinion going to The Puffle Berry Mall which of course temporarily replaced The Stage. The issue with the Mall however is that you couldn’t purchase anything it in, which kind of defies the point. The escalators were also ridiculously slow to operate and once you were on one, you couldn’t get off without switching rooms.

Overall there are some decently decorated rooms, but nothing stood out as groundbreaking. Once again, the majority of the focus has gone into the Member features and quests, exciting times!

Items

After much feedback CP looks to have finally removed the “come back tomorrow for another item” feature that became tiresome. Instead, we can get all the items on the same day which saves time for busy people like myself. This time, the items ranged from Backpacks to Dodgeballs. Whilst the majority they were nicely designed and within context, the absence of Body/Feet items for Non-Members is becoming painfully more obvious. I’m quite positive CP wouldn’t lose Members if they simply gave away body items for everyone every now and again (not including codes).

It was also nice to see Rookie make yet another appearance. Like with every mascot nowadays, their giveaway background is never updated which is slightly depressing.

Plot

Like a good 100% of parties this year, this one suffered from the plot. Or rather, the lack of one. A good CP plot hasn’t really been seen in a while, especially after the master of all plots known as Operation: Blackout graced the island. Lately it seems that Cadence (who is becoming a very tired and overused mascot) has friends from far away that come visit the island and never appear again. This time however, Rookie was so excited for the new school year that he decided to throw a party. How exciting.

One major point that disappointed me was how the EPF were aware that Herbert was going to strike the University. However, he did not appear at all whatsoever during the party. Instead, the Director messaged us saying that the University is now secure. Why even mention Herbert at all? Oh yes, to remind us that he still exists but without actually making him a major character at all. It all seems a little lazy..

Verdict

What originally sounded like the disaster party of 2014 (and boy, are there many contenders for that fine award) actually turned out to be not so bad by 2014’s standards. Whilst it suffered from the usual lack of deco, lack of a real plot and a repetitive quest, it wasn’t as bad as the Music Jam. There we no Disney characters which was refreshing and hopefully this will last for the remainder of the year. It would’ve also been nice to have each mascot teach a respective subject. Gary for science, Aunt Arctic for English, Cadence for music etc.

Overall, it wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst either. I only found myself logging in once per penguin throughout the entire event which pretty much says all there is to say. Will it return next year? I hope not, I’d prefer to find something more creative within the month of September.

What’s Next?

Ah the month of October, by far my favourite month of the year in regards to the island. We already know which parties will occur this month as its’ the same every year. Does that mean its’ bad? No, the exact opposite. The Halloween Party dominates in terms of decoration and music, and I’ve yet to witness one that disappoints. Thus far, we are aware that Spooky Puffles (Ghost Puffles) will be making their debut for Members only. We also know that a Halloween-themed upgrade of the Puffle Hotel will be a central point of the party which is fine. I don’t mind when a room is the main focal point of a party, but it can’t be the only focal point of the party – something which was the main downfall of the Music Jam 2014.

Let us all not forget the 9th Anniversary either. October holds 2 parties every year – the only month to do so on an annual basis. Expect the two to be integrated with eachother rather than having them separate as CP once did (before the whole 2-week party duration was introduced). Regardless, I’m excited for this month and hope that it doesn’t disappoint – though let’s face it, it won’t take much to be the best party of 2014 thus far.

Next Time: Pins – Does Size Matter?

Random CP Fact #27: The Halloween Party 2008 marked the first official sighting of Ninjas. When lightning strook inside the Dojo, Ninja shadows could be seen for a split-second. Ninjas were then officially released a month later.

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Hacker or No Hacker?

Greetings Penguins!

Don’t worry about the critical review for the School & Skate Party – that’s coming soon! For now though, the focus will be on the recent rise in hacking that’s plagued the game with Beta Hats and Red Leis. Hacking is no alien to CP; it has been around even since the beginning (though on a much lesser scale).

In the old days (2007 in particular), there were numerous CP Trainers (which are third-party software developed to edit the game in certain ways, they are against CP’s rules) that would allow you to become Rockhopper, have Member-only Puffles as a non-member and add as much coins to your account as possible. However, all these trainers were soon fixed by the CP Team. Some promised the ability to add free membership, others tried to convince that they possessed the ability to add rare items like the Beta Hat. There were other perks too, like the ability to walk on walls so they appeared to be Ninjas (which were heavily rumoured on the island up until their official release in November 2008). Any penguins spotted hacking were (almost) instantly banned.

Throughout this year, hacking has seen arguably its’ biggest rise ever. Yes there were many, many trainers back during CP’s youth, but the programs of today seem to contain a bigger threat. Why? Well, most of these hacking programs seen currently are Item Adders. As the name suggests, these programs can add items to your account. Some can add just the non-patched items (Code Items in particular are very popular) whereas some can add absolutely any item in the game. All you need to do is enter your account information (which is never recommended) and the ID of the item you want. Simple.

This means that a ridiculous amount of penguins can be seen wearing Beta Hats and other rare items, even in hugely populated servers like Blizzard. How can people get away with blatantly flaunting that they are a hacker on the busiest server in the game? Shouldn’t there be moderators keeping an eye on this server in particular? Regardless of this, very few penguins have been banned due to hacking. Admittedly, rarity is not what it used to be. A legit Beta can barely get a crowd of 3 penguins never mind the potential to create huge crowds rivalling today’s mascots.

How to spot a Hacker 

So, you go onto a server. Whether it be the energetic Blizzard or the calm rare-show-off-fest known as Sleet, chances are you will see a rare Beta Hat (or not) wearing penguin at some point. But, is it the real deal or a rule-breaker? In some cases, it’s impossible to tell. However, there are a few simple ways to check that are usually very effective for catching out the amateur hackers.

1) Pins

With the introduction of the Stamp Book, seeing if a penguin is genuine or not never became easier. Simply go on the penguin in question’s Stamp Book and check their pins. Do they have a lot of pins? Are they all from 2006+ or is their first pin one that was released last week? In many cases, their first pin will be Rockhopper’s Key. Originally released in 2008 but still available today, it is often the first pin in many penguin’s collections. If their first pin is Rockhopper’s Key, you can bet your Puffle that you have discovered a hacker.

Unfortunately, this step has a significant flaw. Since penguins can add any item using particular programs nowadays, they can also hack pins. This means that, more than likely, if a penguin is willing to hack a Beta Hat he/she is just as likely to hack the first few pins such as the Shamrock, Music Note and Pizza Slice. Beware of this, as it is very misleading. However, if said penguin has the first few pins then their collection misses a bunch of pins and skips to Rockhopper’s Key (or a more recent pin), it is also likely he/she is a hacker.

2) Stamps

Again with the Stamp Book, it has become one of the most defining elements for discovering hackers. This method catches out most amateur hackers and is one that few think of, but in fact is extremely simple and logical. As you may know, there are certain stamps to look out for. These are both located under the Activities section and will fully determine if a penguin really is as old as they say they are. The stamps to look out for are called ‘183 Days!’ and ‘365 Days! respectively. Both are obtained when you log in with a penguin of that age or older.

Since Beta Testing was way back in 2005, the age of a penguin with a Beta Hat would dramatically exceed these numbers and thus, they will easily have both of these stamps. If they don’t have these stamps but instead have a Beta Hat or other rare item that is unavailable by any other means, you can bet 1 million coins you’ve found a hacker. Congratulations!

3) Penguin ID 

Did you know that your penguin has a penguin ID? This is the ID given to each and every penguin to ever sign up to the game. This ID is representative of when you signed up. For example, if you were the 1000th person to sign up to Club Penguin, your Penguin’s ID will be 1000. Simple stuff, right? Well, since Beta Testers were amongst the first few to play the game, their penguin’s ID must be under 15,000 to be legitimate Beta Tester. If they have a ridiculously large ID such as one that exceeds one million, well, it’s obvious what they are.

The only issue with this method is that you cannot check a penguin’s ID in-game (unless they have the name P, followed by a bunch of numbers – which is their ID, e.g P1000000). Whilst it is true that some programs show a penguin’s ID, please remember programs are against the CP rules. Though I guess if it’s for catching out hackers – it’s more like a good deed. You can always try contacting CP with the suspected penguin’s Username and perhaps they could check. If you’ve been given this penguin by a friend, it makes checking that much easier. However, the method listed below is the ultimate way of checking – though the most difficult to do.

4) Checking a Penguin’s Age

This is the final method of checking if someone is legit or not. However, it is impossible to do without actually having the penguin’s account information. With this in mind, it’s only effective for those who have been given a penguin or have somehow acquired the username and password. As this step possesses such a huge flaw, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s probably not even worth your time to go this far into the case in all honesty.

So, You’ve discovered a Hacker!

It’s very likely at some point, using one or several of these steps that you will discover a hacked penguin. But what exactly do you do at this stage? You can always report said player and cross your flippers that they will get banned (though this seems unlikely due to how relaxed CP seems to be with all the hacking going on lately). If hackers disgust you in ways you cannot possibly describe in words, simply ignore them for a hacker-free experience. Or, if you feel like been extra evil, you can always crush their dreams by announcing that they are a hacker in front of everyone. That will surely catch ‘em out!

Next Time: School & Skate Party Critical Review!

Random CP Fact #26: Next month’s annual Halloween Party will be the 10th to occur on the island. The very first began on October 27th 2005. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Sasquatch: The Ongoing Mystery

Greetings Penguins!

As promised in my last post, this one will be regarding the recently discovered Sasquatch and the mystery that surrounds the Party Hat-wearing beast. Where did it come from? Where did it go? (where did it come from Cotton-Eye Joe?)

Backstory

Firstly, I will presume that you all know who Sasquatch is. If not, see my past post entitled ‘A wild Sasquatch Appeared!’. Anyways, the Sasquatch appeared for a short time last month just before the Frozen Party started as a mascot. Lucky penguins who managed to find the rapid-moving large creature were gifted with an exclusive Mystery Background. Unlike all other normal mascots however, the Sasquatch did not receive any meet up times or even acknowledgement from the CP Team. How odd..

Then, several days later, it stopped visiting. It was unable to be encountered on the island and simply disappeared just as it had appeared – without explanation. Not even an article in the CP Times discussed it. Personally, I figured that CP would keep it undercover until September when they would likely throw a Wilderness Expedition or something. Its’ possible mountain cave home (that can be seen from the Ski Hill) got a short mention in the newspaper; but has since failed to receive any further attention. In said paper, it stated that the cave glows at night (which currently doesn’t exist on CP – could that also be a hint of night time coming to the game?). Surely if an unknown cave begins to glow with no explanation, someone, whether the EPF or just curious penguins, would go investigate? Especially given a certain Polar Bear hasn’t attacked in a while..

Sasquatch’s Next Appearance

Instead of any wilderness or mountain expedition as we’ve seen before, September will hold the School and Skate Party. It is extremely unlikely that the Sasquatch will be involved in this party at all. Will it start appearing again before the party starts? Who knows. Maybe it will be featured in a mini-party, if there is one this month. Thus far, we’ve heard nothing regarding one so it seems unlikely which is a shame as they were enjoyable. Mini-parties haven’t featured the introduction of new mascots thus far, so the Sasquatch’s purpose seems to extend to a full-length party. 

October – the month of Halloween and CP’s Anniversary. Sasquatch is quite the beast, so it could possibly fit in with Halloween. The Beta Hat it wears also fits in with the upcoming 9th Anniversary Party. Surely that’s it! The Sasquatch is set for an official confirmation in October and will play a role within the month’s events!! Sadly, that was sarcasm. It seems that a Sasquatch-themed October is very unlikely due to the amount of stuff already going on. However, with night time a regular feature of the Halloween series, it will be interesting to see if the cave really does glow at night like the rumours suggest.

This means that November is the only remaining month of the year which will contain some sort of expedition to discover the animal. Why? Well, it cannot be December as Sasquatch really does not fit in with the Christmas – sorry – Holiday party. November is the absolute perfect time for it to arrive. It keeps the mystery going throughout 3 months and whilst many have already forgotten it exists, it has a old-CP feeling of mystery that continues for some time before it is solved. I.e Puffles (the Yellow, White and Orange in particular) used to appear in the wild every half an hour or so weeks before they were adoptable, which was more exciting than today’s quests for the [insert colour or species] Puffles. 

Conclusion

So, as the Halloween Party approaches and the sunlight of the island makes way for a fortnight-long period of constant darkness, I predict the golden glow of artificial lighting will be seen from the mountain cave visible from Ski Hill; effectively rebooting the mystery of the Sasquatch and proving rumours correct. Penguins will be confused as to who or what lives there. Undoubtedly Herbert will be mentioned, but we know this won’t be the his home due to the Newspaper stating that ‘Others say that it’s the home of the Sasquatch’. Then, as the party is in full swing (or after it ends), more newspaper reports will surface regarding the mysterious light – just in time for November. 

As for what exactly the team have in planned for the great beast of the wilderness, I’m not sure. I look forward to see what it is and hope they have something great planned with an awesome backstory for it. The biggest mystery lay’s with it’s Beta Hat. I can’t wait to hear how “It’s been here since the beginning”. One problem remains however, if my theory is correct, which I think there’s a good chance it is (why else would the Newspaper state the cave glows at night?), what about Card-Jitsu? November has been the month of Ninjas for many years, though I doubt Card-Jitsu Shadow is anywhere near completion yet. We shall have to wait!

Next Time: I will be discussing how to identify whether a penguin has used third-party software to add rare items!

Random CP Fact #25: Entering the code CELEBRA5 on the Unlock Items Online screen will unlock the Spanish 5th Year Hat for your penguin. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

School and Skate Party – First Impressions

Greetings Penguins!

I know, I know. 2 posts in a week for me nowadays is a rarity. For those who don’t already know, I quit the standard blogging a few years ago due to the time constraints and how blogging every single thing CP did or released got tiresome after 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, but wow can it be a tiring job. Not to mention, there’s plenty of other fan blogs out there that do update everything that occurs. I prefer to write posts when I feel like it, therefore resulting in better work rather than when I felt like I was forced to.

School and Skate Party?

Anyways, with the relative success of the Frozen party almost behind us, we have the School & Skate party to look forward to this month. CP has never thrown any party in which was based upon school; yes it can be argued that the Prom mini-party and the Monster’s University takeover contained school themes, it wasn’t quite as direct. The announcement of this party was no doubt met with sceptical people asking ‘why?’. School is not exactly the most fun time for everyone. Undoubtedly it can be fun sometimes, learning Maths and English is something that I doubt many penguins will be looking forward to.

School is a major part of our lives. In fact, it consumes our entire childhood and continues into our late teenage years. We are forced to endure countless hours in what is often a crowded environment full of people we may or may not like. Learning Maths can be fun for some, but a nightmare of numbers for others. The same applies for school itself; some despise it whilst some cannot wait to return every day to learn something new.

I’m sure no matter what situation you’re in, you’ll agree that CP and indeed many other online, console or any type of games or entertainment is an escape from school life. It’s nice to get home and forget about waking up early tomorrow morning by waddling around with some friends on CP, or indeed shooting people to death on the latest Call of Duty. 

So, after the joy that is the summer holidays bids farewell and back to school adverts grace our television with typical negative responses from those attending, the last thing we want is to be reminded even on our online escapisms. Yes, CP usually releases back to school themed items such as the iconic Letterman Jacket and different coloured backpacks, but that’s as far as it goes. September was once home to The Fair – then dubbed as the Fall Fair on the island of CP. In recent years we’ve also seen the Medieval Party take this spot.

Upon Megg’s confirmation of the School-themed party on the What’s New Blog, it became evident of what CP was trying to do. She insisted back to school shopping was so much fun and stated how much we all love school which was received with controversy by much of the community. CP will also be helping to build schools in Ecuador, Haiti and India which is of course a grand gesture; but do we really need a party based on school?

Of course, it’s far too early to determine the success or indeed the downfall of this party. Thus far, I’ve seen more negative responses than I have positive. Personally, I find that many use CP as an escape from reality and school in particular, so to be reminded of this is somewhat annoying. There’s also the factor that the Skating element is more popular towards the American community, and we will undoubtedly see the stereotypical Nerds, Jocks and Cheerleaders that are popular in that culture. Whatever the party entails, you can be sure it will be receiving a critical review upon its’ release. :)

Next Time: I will be discussing the ongoing mystery that is the Sasquatch! 

Random CP Fact #24: During the Christmas Party 2007, the rare Christmas Scarf was accidentally released several days too early – for only half an hour. It was then re-released on December 24th 2007 as originally planned. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Frozen Party – Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

One of the most highly anticipated parties of the year will be concluding very soon. The Frozen Party, or takeover if you will, was apparently one of the most highly requested parties amongst the CP fanbase. Whilst many weren’t exactly happy about another Disney sponsored party, the announcement of this one seemed to excite more than it did disappoint. Did it live up to expectations or will penguins be pleased to let it go?

The Good:

  • This was a brand new, never-before-seen party that included both elements of summer and winter. Penguins could freeze and unfreeze rooms giving said room a winter or summery feel, or even a mixture of both. Like the film, the party contained all our favourite Frozen characters including Olaf, Marshmallow and Queen Elsa. However, unlike the Muppet’s takeover, none of these characters were actually mascots like Kermit was. Instead, members could transform into Olaf and Marshmallow whilst Queen Elsa would perform in her ice palace within the second week of the party.
  • New items: This party saw the introduction of a plethora of new items. A massive 15 items were available and that’s not even including the Ice Palace igloo, the Ice furniture items or Queen Elsa’s background. As per, not every item was available for everyone. 7 Items out of 15 (again not including those discussed prior) were available for Members, so overall a fairly healthy number.
  • New Igloo & Furiture items: As discussed previously, this party saw Queen Elsa give out a free Ice Palace igloo for everyone. Yes, everyone! This is the second igloo released for everyone at a party, with the first being the Sweet Swirl Igloo from the Holiday Party 2013. Not only this but everyone could even get a set of ice-themed furniture items. This included 5 Ice Thrones, 10 Ice Rugs and 3 Ice Dining Tables. Awesome!
  • New Puffle: One of the main member features of this party was the ability to build your own Snowman Puffle. Whilst sounding like a unique customisation possibility, it was actually the ability of adopting a Olaf-themed puffle inspired by the character from the film. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the mass introduction of so many Puffles lately, at least it’s not one of those strange Puffle Creatures (i.e Dino, Dog, Cat Puffles).
  • Decorated Island: Hallelujah, the island is decorated. Unlike the controversy with last month’s Music Jam, the majority of the island is decorated. Each room has 2 versions, a summer-ish theme and a frozen theme. The fact that we have control over which version we get (and can freeze some areas giving the room variety) is definitely a good thing. I would’ve liked to see more snow however, with perhaps the snow falling animation seen during Elsa’s performance being used in other rooms.

Improvements:

  • Scavenger Hunt/Quest: Upon logging in, we were instantly made aware of how to earn items. Simply heading to one of the rooms stated (Town, Dock, Beach etc) and looking for 3 snowflakes per room would unlock items. Although this sounds pretty fun, the sheer size of the snowflakes made finding them a task simpler than logging in. This meant the average penguin could find all the snowflakes and unlock all items in 2 minutes or under. After that, there was little else to do other than wait for Queen Elsa’s performance.
  • Winter in August: There was something about having a Frozen party in August that seemed strange. Yes I understand that the film does actually take place in Summer before everything becomes frozen, but I would’ve preferred something more focused around the warmest season. Last year’s Teen Beach Movie did exactly that, which is why it remains one of my favourite sponsored parties thus far.
  • Interior Decorations: Or rather the lack of. Nowadays, the island isn’t as decorated as it used to be. Parties often include a new room or set of rooms, such as the Music Jam, where the majority of the party take place. When this happens, most of the island gets ignored, with only the Town, Plaza and sometimes the Dock getting a decorated version. However, when the island does get decorated, the interiors of these rooms almost never get a makeover. The Frozen Party is no exception. The Coffee Shop has had no attention, nor has the Dance Club or even the Pizza Parlour. These three used to always receive some form of contextual re-design when there was a party occurring.
  • Members get more: We all get it by now. Members get more items and can typically transform at modern parties. If said event includes a new puffle or a body item it’s around 99% likely that it will be for Members only. Whilst this is understandable, after all, CP is a business and needs to generate income, it still seems a little unnecessary. Non-members are in desperate need of a new puffle. The last one were the Red Puffles in 2006. That’s 8 years without a new puffle. Would one more puffle really prevent that much income for the company? As for body items, the same applies.

Overall, the Frozen Party is one that received mixed reviews. Yes, many enjoyed the decorated island and the majority of the content, but many also found that the quests were far too easy and the lack of a mascot meant there was nobody to hunt down and receive that limited background. For those who are looking forward to the month of back to school adverts, school itself and the departure of summer for yet another year can also look forward to CP’s next party – the School and Skate Party. I will discuss this in more detail soon.

Random CP Fact #23: The Summer Kickoff Party 2007 contained 5 free items for everyone which was a record at the time. These were the Blue Lei, the Ice Cream Apron, the Green Inflatable Duck, a Flower Headdress and the Green Sunglasses.

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

Wild Sasquatch Appeared!

Greetings Penguins!

I’m sure by now many of you have heard of the latest mascot coming to CP. Is it Rory, is it Jet Pack Guy? No, it’s a Bigfoot/Sasquatch creature with a Beta Hat. You heard right, the thing has it’s very own Beta Hat. Here’s a picture of his artwork.

sasquatch

 

For those of you that are unaware, Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) is a mythical ape-like creature that is rumoured to inhabit forest areas in the wilderness. You may also recognise these names as they are both names given to servers on Club Penguin. There is little known about this guy other than rather than being like a bi-pedal ape he (or she?) has a beak, so it is quite a bizarre creation. Anyhow, this guy is rumoured to live in the cave that can be seen from Ski Hill – especially given Aunt Arctic’s report about said place in a recent Club Penguin Times article.

cave mystery

Still not convinced? Well our big-footed-friend can actually be found on the island! Like any other mascot, he is currently meetable in-game and will give a free background upon clicking the button on its’ playercard. It’s currently known as “??????” much like Sensei was during the Dig out the Dojo project way back in 2008. There are also several rumours that it is meetable on the Club Penguin app too. It should be relatively easy to spot due to its’ bigger size when compared to penguins (like Herbert) and of course that signature Beta Hat.

How did this thing get a Beta Hat?!

I’m sure this question will be asked a lot when the creature becomes more acknowledged on the island. Currently, it’s a mystery. Sensei has stated that he indeed does have one himself, but that’s understandable as he left the island and returned in 2008 from his travels to train ninjas – plus – he’s old. Sasquatch’s Beta Hat indicates that he has been around for a while which should provide CP with the ability to hopefully produce an interesting backstory of how it has been here since the beginning. However, the sheer size of it’s Beta Hat far outsizes the standard one possessed by rare penguins – which looks odd when you notice the creature in game. The hat is about half the size of the penguins themselves. It would’ve made sense if it the standard size, plus it would look quite comical on such a large beast.

Why is it here?

When Sasquatch’s mascot ID was found in the CP game files, many predicted that September would host a Mountain Expedition or something in order to discover the mystery cave discussed previously, thus introducing the creature. This is of course still a possibility, though very unlikely. Sasquatch is on the game now, and doesn’t fit in with the upcoming Frozen Party whatsoever. When met in game, it apparently only says stuff like “UGH” so that provides no help either. One thing is certain, this weeks Club Penguin Times issue should give us some more information – if the What’s New blog doesn’t first.

Random CP Fact #22: CP has recently released a Sled Racing game to the Apple App Store. The game differs from the online version as it is currently not multiplayer and is an endless 3D runner-type game similar to Temple Run. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

- Jimbobson

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