Club Penguin Island Version 1.2 Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

After quite the hiatus, I’ve decided to return to annoying the fanboys and being an overwhelmingly cynical Penguin. This time however, Club Penguin Island is the game facing the criticism!

So, after CP’s inevitable closure on March 29th, the game was reborn as a mobile-only app named Club Penguin Island. I’m sure most if not all reading this have played it as, you know, this is a CP-based blog. And I have posted about it numerous times before..

Anyway! The most recent version of said app released today – version 1.2. Promising bug fixes and performance improvements; but that’s not all! Also incorporated into this update was a few notable features in which makes the game more playable (and some unfortunate bugs which make the game UNplayable!). This ‘review’ of sorts will look at some of the updates we’ve seen today, including the unfortunate ‘bugs’ in which joined the slowly-growing island.

Quests!

Of course, new quests were added for Aunt Arctic. Whilst I can’t play all of them yet (too low level!), they re-introduce some very familiar characters such as Jet Pack Guy (more like Jet Pack Gains), Gary, Dot, Rookie and even Herbert & Klutzy. Players will notice that all the aforementioned characters have a new character design and some..and more ‘interesting’ than others. Whilst many of the younger players may find them appealing, I personally find the overly-anthropomorphic creatures somewhat disturbing.

Regardless, more quests are good! They replace the mini-games as the go-to form of entertainment and some are even a little reminiscent of the old PSA/EPF missions.

User Interface & New Features

The game introduces several improvements to the overall gameplay. Notable mentions include a well-overdue map has been added, allowing players to teleport to whichever room they wish as opposed to having to waddle to it themselves. Perfect for missions and those all-important Megg meet-ups!

There’s also a new clothing catalogue in which contains items designed by players of CPI. To make this better, a portion of the coins spent on said item will be sent straight to the original designer! This is a fantastic little edition in which makes the game more community-based. Certainly a welcome edition.

Another absolutely fantastic addition is the ability to tell whether something you say passes the filter. Yep, remember when I suggested this? CP finally introduced it! If a message doesn’t pass, a simplistic ‘____’ appears in your chat bubble, where the original message would’ve been. This is arguably the biggest chat update to the CP franchise of all time. Absolute game changer – literally!

A Bug’s Life

As with most software updates, this game saw the introduction of a few bugs and glitches. Most noticeably was a horrible frame-rate lag bug in which occurred after a short time if a player stays in a populated room. This became especially evident during Megg’s April 12th meetup – though this was approximately an hour after the update dropped so they can be forgiven just this once. Still an odd bug when considering this version was supposed to include ‘performance improvements’.

Another odd bug is that of texture errors. In numerous cases, an item in the clothing customiser will appear incorrectly textured – or completely black. This has happened several times to me and my long-time friend Jartarf. Hopefully an immediate update rolls out to fix the updates caused by this update. Ah, the joys of software!

Conclusion – Positives 

  • New quests with recurring characters
  • Integration of a much-needed Map
  • Construction of Mt. Blizzard, fore-sighting a new location
  • Amazing new icon when messages don’t pass the filter
  • New clothing catalogue with community-designed items
  • New Disney Tangled-themed items?
  • New Tubes!
  • CPI Phone, a new UI in which keeps track of Daily Challenges, Settings, Island News and even Penguin-Standard-Time, though it can be a little slow to load at times

Conclusion – Negatives

  • Annoying frame-rate bug which, at times, makes the game unplayable
  • Texture bugs
  • Overly-anthropomorphic characters such as Rookie and Jet Pack Guy (of whom now is a lifeguard?) leaving a sour taste amongst the older players of community
  • Non-Members still don’t have access to barely anything (including the Beta Hat & Alumni Jacket)
  • Levelling-up can be a farce, there’s still no solution to this
  • Still no Puffles or Igloos!

Final Thoughts

Overall, this update was a relatively solid one in which fixed many core elements of the games. However, the game still ultimately suffers from the same issues it has since launch. Pretty much everything is exclusive to Members, meaning that if users aren’t willing to pay for Membership then they are left without clothing items, quests or even the ability to consume food or drink. Balancing the game for Non-Members is something in which is urgently needed – and that’s coming from a (current) Member.

And so concludes my first post in quite a while. I have to admit, for all of CPI’s shortcomings, the game has helped me enjoy Club Penguin again. The franchise was in desperate need of a reboot and I believe CPI is a good attempt at doing so. However, the game is still lacking in several key areas – at least for now!

Oh and the Earth Day celebrations begin tomorrow which promise the first ever item available to Non-Members as well as Members. Expect a review of that too..

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

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Club Penguin Island: First Impressions!

Greetings Penguins!

As many know, CPI is now available in the Australian iOS App Store and doesn’t require Beta access – meaning everyone can download it! Well, as long as you live in Australia..

Anyways, over the past day or so I’ve managed to gain access to Club Penguin Island (CPI) – through methods I will share if requested. With that, I have compiled a list of my first impressions on the new mobile game and decided to write about them here. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Visuals – Let it snow!

Unlike original CP which looks incredibly dated with its flat 2D appearance, CPI is completely 3D, providing the team with much more flexibility in terms of interaction with the environment – a key feature of this game. The visuals within this game are very appealing, with saturated colours and plenty of detail. However, the lack of snow across the world is something that I’m not personally a fan of. CP was always designed to be a winter wonderland, CPI’s current rooms feel like a summer vacation hotspot. Visually, it doesn’t really feel like Club Penguin at all. Replace the penguins with ToonTown characters and nobody would realise the world was designed for CP penguins. Give us more snow!

Gameplay – New Yet Familiar

Much like original CP, CPI focuses on interaction with other players in a warm (literally!), welcome environment. However, that’s not all the game has to offer. Mini-games are gone and instead replaced with daily quests provided by various CP mascots. The quests are somewhat fun, if not too easy (the first few at least). They offer far more engagement than the current tasks assigned to original CP parties, that’s for sure. But Operation: Blackout style quests would be an excellent and much welcome addition.

Role-playing has also been dramatically enhanced. Players can purchase food/drinks for their penguin, a much richer clothing-customisation system, and an environment in which you can truly interact with. It destroys original CP in every way in this category – but one problem persists – Membership.

Do You Want To Build a Snowman Be a Member?

Like original CP – Membership returns. Unlike the freemium in-app purchase model which plagues the majority of apps and games within the mobile market, CP opts for the standard subscription-based model as before. The only issue is that this is not commonplace within mobile gaming. Paying $8 or so a month for a mobile game is something that I can’t imagine many parents agreeing too. Especially when considering the investment of a mobile phone to begin with (handset costs, contract costs, data costs etc!).

The model itself simply isn’t suited to mobile gaming. The smartphone app market is incredibly saturated, being unique is vital – but so is offering players a good deal. The majority of features within CPI are Members-only. From buying food to completing most quests to using certain emoji to even wearing ANY items – you must be a Member! This aggressive approach to the freemium model is somewhat understandable, but not when considering CP’s history of allowing non-members to gain access to clothing items and the majority of gameplay throughout the game’s lifespan.

Maybe this is why the team didn’t transfer old items to new accounts? Even if they did, you can bet it’d be Members only..

All in all, I feel that this game would only be truly worth player’s time if they purchased a Membership. If not, stick to the original CP until it eventually dies. Otherwise, find another game to play. There are many, many solid games on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Look at Super Mario Run, offering a one-off payment (at least for now) for the entire game. Not monthly subscriptions!

Another good example is Pokemon Go – a game that enjoyed tremendous success over the summer. It offers in-app purchases yes, but players are never forced to spend money on it to play the proper game, especially not via a subscription service.

Conclusions

All things considered, CPI is a welcome and much-needed evolution for CP. It keeps the game fresh and modern, and offers a enjoyable and quality experience should you invest in a Membership. For those of us with many other costs to consider – such as smartphone contracts, I’d recommend other games. Undoubtedly, for the die-hard CP fan this is THE go-to game. I’ll certainly pop on every now and again. But for now, the neutered non-member experience – especially considering CP’s history, makes this game a less than enjoyable experience for most. 

Are players willing to pay a subscription for a mobile game? Perhaps. But I’d imagine it’ll be significantly less than those willing to pay a subscription for a PC game. In-app purchases are admittedly an annoying approach but a tried-and-tested one nonetheless. This model works for Pokemon Go. This model works for Clash of Clans. One-off payments work for Super Mario Run. Subscriptions work for..maybe Club Penguin Island?

Who knows?

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Club Penguin Island: Dividing From The Very Start

Greetings Penguins!

As I’m sure many of you will know by the time you’re reading this (ha, people reading my blog?! Ha!), Club Penguin Island was officially announced as the successor to CP, codenamed by many as Project Super Secret – until now! Interested users can pre-register for the 2017 game and will receive a batch of special items for their interest.

https://www.clubpenguin-island.com

After the many troubles of actually trying to reserve a username (wow, that system really needs work), you’ll eventually be ready…to wait until next year to play the game! However, some lucky users who have pre-registered have received an e-mail, inviting them with the potential to test their games in an elusive closed-beta. And that’s where the dividing begins..

Not just mobile only, but USA/Canada only!

When Club Penguin had their beta test way back in 2005, they invited 15,000 players from Penguin Chat 3 to come over and test the game. USA? UK? South Africa? No problem!

Club Penguin Island (CPI) however have instead opted to geo-lock their closed Beta test. This means that only users in either the United States or Canada will be able to participate. Even faking your location won’t save you here, as the game itself will apparently be region locked.

The fundamental issue here is how the game is already dividing users. Mobile-only is something that was a controversial move on Disney’s part and one that left those either without a mobile device (or at least a recent one) out of luck. A true example of capitalism.

The reasoning behind this geo-lock isn’t clear. Surely if CPI is to be a quality mobile game for the masses, testing outside of North America would be logical? But I guess as long as the game works there the rest of us will be happy. Right?! This alienates users, particularly those of us who have played the game for a long time. It’s almost bad enough that our items, coins, Puffles etc won’t be transferred.

But wait! It gets even better..

An Apple A Day Keeps Android Away

CPI will use Apple’s TestFlight service to beta-test the upcoming game. The issue is that this service is limited to 2,000 testers – making the CPI Beta far more exclusive than even the CP Beta of 2005. Simply put, many many fans are going to miss out and I highly doubt they will be too happy about it.

Wait, TestFlight? Apple? Surely not..Yep! The test will also be iOS exclusive. It’s no secret that I’m a big Apple fan and own iOS devices and a MacBook. However, excluding international and/or Android users at this stage is extremely unfair. Android operates far more devices due to the plethora of mobile devices using the Google-owned OS, though admittedly the OS is far more fragmented than iOS and CP hasn’t being shy in flirting with Apple and its’ products in the past.

The First Rule Of Beta Club Is..

So, we’re aware of how exclusive this Beta test will be. But so what, right? It’s the actual game that counts and we all most of us will get to play it presuming we have a recent mobile device! I just hope there’s not too many in-app purchases..

..Nope! Well, kind of. Basically, Membership will still feature. This means that CPI will be a subscription-based game and we will be required to pay for certain features. An annoyance? Yes, but micro transactions are much, much worse.

So there it is, CPI will be the exclusive of exclusives – at first. Geo-locked Beta testing (on iOS only), mobile only and for the most part, membership only. It’ll be a fun experience regardless and I look forward to playing the game when it is eventually released.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson (Or whatever username I get in CPI because ‘Jimbobson’ isn’t allowed at this time..)

Spike Hike: The end of an era!

Greetings Penguins!

Earlier this week, Spike Hike announced he would be leaving Disney.

It would be safe to say this shook the Club Penguin community. During this difficult period  of Flash CP – Project Super Secret, users needed stability and comfort. This is where Spike came in. Long-running General Manager of Disney apps (and of course, Club Penguin), he replaced Billybob and faced a massive swarm of attention due to this – whether praise or criticism.

Many believed Spike was “evil”, a replacement to Billybob which never quite settled too well with the games fanbase. Any issue or problem occurred on the game – Spike Hike was to blame. Whilst terribly unfair, Spike Hike continued the legacy left by the original CP founders. It was, and still is to this day, in very good hands. Even during the announcements of Project Super Secret, losing all our items and the new experience being mobile-only, Spike Hike was undoubtedly behind this. Solely? No. With the interests of everyone at heart? Absolutely.

Replacing a member of the community of which existed from the very beginning – and fast-tracked the games’ development since its early days was no easy feat. Spike took the role of a leader, someone to admire and look up to when times turned dark. Today’s meet up with the legendary purple-mohawk bearing penguin showed just how much of an impact this man had upon CP’s legacy. Sure, Billybob was the original manager, but absolutely nobody could argue Spike was significant and upmost the man to thank for CP’s continuous – if not somewhat declining – existence.

He lead us to PSS. For whatever reason, he now decides to leave this island and begin adventures anew. Is this because he was fired? Is this because of CP’s almost dramatic decline into barely-existence? I don’t believe so. Many of us feel the need to move on eventually. As did Rocketsnail. As did Screenhog. As did Happy77. As did Polo Field. As did Businesmoose. And so on. Many of us dislike too much comfort and decide that a new challenge is the most beneficial to our lives. As the overused cliche of 2013 says: You only live once.

We begin a new chapter very soon where we start again. Our current accounts are almost meaningless. Our new adventures await in the form of PSS. Mobile is undoubtedly the future (despite our battery life woes!), and CP on the desktop will continue to exist until Flash ceases to exist. What we can do now is simple: Look to the future. As a player since 2007, I can say – for the first time in many, many years – that I am excited for this new experience. I probably should’ve left this game years ago – just as my friends did. But something maintained my interested in this game and I believe PSS is just that.

Spike Hike, you were and are a truly great leader. Sure, the recent lack of communication was somewhat frustrating but we always knew the you – a long-lasting familiar face upon the CP scene – existed to keep us calm and motivated. You claimed that us, the fanbase, are actually the “new CEO of the game” but we need a familiar face to guide us – just as you did upon Billybob’s resignation.

With a new version of CP (in the form of PSS) rapidly on its’ way – what fans of the game need is familiarity and stability – something in which Spike Hike could’ve delivered during these admittedly difficult times for the game. If not, who will? The community! We exist regardless of the current manager and staff members. But we need someone to provide our faith too. Will this be Megg – a refreshingly young woman able to connect with the majority of players? Who knows. But please, give us something. We need as much support as possible during the transitional period.

A general manager leaving at this point is simply unsettling..

Until next time, Waddle on. And thanks, Spike Hike. For everything over these past few years. Here’s to your future! As well as ours.

-Jimbobson

1,050 Words of Utter Nonsense.

Prologue

It was an average day way back in May 2007 when it all began. I’d only just started using a laptop properly – yes, I was from the generation where the outdoors was a more favourable experience! Aside from learning the wonders of Google search and being overwhelmed by how vast the Internet truly was, I was by no means experienced with anything technical (ironic considering I’m now a 3D animation graduate..).

I remember playing the occasional flash games popular within my school. World’s Hardest Game and Bubble Trouble were amongst my favourites. I spent an unholy amount of hours on my laptop – an old, beat up device running the legacy Windows XP, discovering new content every day. Having an almost infinite library of things to discover was incredible, yet I often found myself struggling to discover things in which kept my attention for more than a couple of hours That’s when I remembered something a friend said. He recommended a game. I think by now we all know what game this was – Club Penguin.

So much has changed since that day and I won’t go into unnecessary detail. The facts are that Club Penguin will soon change forever – a completely new era. Project Super Secret will mark the start of a completely new Club Penguin, one that we’ve been expecting for a while now – and that’s a good thing! Times have changed drastically since CP’s inception almost 11 years ago. The mobile industry has changed the way we communicate and play games. Steve Jobs’ vision of a Flash-free Internet is quickly becoming a reality, with all major browsers beginning to stop supporting the antique plug-in.

The move to mobile is a logical yet controversial one. The lack of support for PCs alienates those who don’t have a smartphone (or one that will run the app smoothly). Unlike PCs (unless you’re an intensive gamer), smartphones become outdated within a couple of years meaning younger players who rely on their parents – or simply cannot afford high-end devices – are excluded from the CP experience. I have little doubt that the PC version will eventually arrive but will those users wait around until it does? Who knows. Luckily, quality smartphones are becoming cheaper and cheaper in the form of Android alternatives (and even the somewhat affordable iPhone SE). I digress.

CP is doing what it needs to in order to survive. Sure, the desktop version isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but the focus on PSS will likely leave it more unpopular than ever.

Controversy, Controversy, Controversy.

Whilst the majority of the CP faithful – like myself – are excited to test the latest offering from Disney’s virtual world (even if it is a geo Beta!), the news surrounding the community this week is that our accounts (other than potential usernames) will not be carried over to this new system. Despite CP spending what was likely countless hours in the computer labs re-creating every item in 3D for the app, PSS will have an entire new inventory system in which won’t be compatible. Will these items ever appear in PSS at all? For sure, but we will have to collect them all over again.

At first I found this move to be ridiculous. All of our items we’ve collected over the years – gone! All that money spent on Memberships to buy Members-only items – gone! Whilst this is true, the current CP will continue to exist on desktop for a while – we don’t know the exact date but we can expect another year at least. Still, with attention turning to PSS I can say that I’m excited. More excited that I was before.

The thought of a new start on a new game (basically signing up all over again) makes everyone on the same playing field. CP enthusiast since 2007 or 2-day old Newbie, it won’t matter (for the first year or so at least!). It’s an exciting time, discovering a brand new island and making new friends just as I did 9 years ago. It’s no secret that I had become tired of CP’s efforts as of late, so much so that I log in simply to get the pin then log out. Then again, why should I even do that when my account will seize to exist in a few years? I wonder if pins will continue to be released in PSS…I hope so!

RIP Club Penguin. Wait. What?!

It now seems many are sharing their fondest memories of the game, saying their goodbyes etc. Whilst the game as we know it won’t be going away anytime soon, we can say farewell to this era of Club Penguin – a game in which enhanced millions of peoples lives in so many different ways. The heavy investment, both in terms of time and finance is a clear indication that they think PSS will work – and work very well. Let’s just hope it’s not ruined by micro transactions.

Do I Stay Or Do I Go?

I realise I’m amongst the oldest of players of this game – alongside several other bloggers that I know of. Trainman1405 (Club Penguin Memories) recently decided to quit the game after his penguin turned 10. The majority of my friends I’ve met online have also quit. I’ve considered it myself many times. Unlike some bloggers, I receive no financial income from advertisements and thus many would probably question why is it I still play this damn game which is aimed at children?!

To that, I have no answer. But I don’t need one. I play the game because I want to play the game. Does logging in occasionally to collect pins, check out parties etc even count as playing? I’ll leave that to you. But for now, I’ll still be (somewhat) active around Twitter, post here occasionally and hopefully beta test PSS later this year (presuming it’s not a closed or geo beta). For the first time in a while, I’m genuinely excited for what comes next  on Disney’s #1 virtual world.

 

(I’m not even sure what this post was meant to be or why exactly I wrote it. I guess I just wanted to write something as I hadn’t in a while. I highly doubt anyone even read all this. If by some miracle someone did, be sure to let me know!)

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

A Few Updates..

Greetings Penguins!

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while – particularly my critical reviews of CP’s most recent parties. This is because lately I’ve been busy with my offline life (and the launch of Pokemon Go hasn’t helped either!). This is also due to the fact that most of the content coming from Disney’s number 1 virtual world as of late is simply recycled or uninspiring. In this post, I’ll give a brief overview of my thoughts on the most recent parties and CP’s current state, particularly moving forward. Here we go!

The Zootopia Takeover (May 18 – July 6)

The Zootopia Takeover felt pretty much like most other takeovers to me. The lack of a plot or true tasks – other than log in to collect some recycled items, all of which were Member exclusives of course – leaves a sour taste in most scenarios. Sure, the decorated rooms were quite nice but it seems that each and every party this year has the same old criticisms. Little to no plot, poor selection of items and a lack of decorated rooms, particularly interiors. I found those rooms in which were decorated were nicely done so, though this doesn’t hide what the party was – a sponsored takeover lacking in originality.

Finding Dory Party (July 6 – August 17)

The Finding Dory party is currently ongoing for an unholy duration (as was the Zootopia takeover and indeed next months party). This one gives us a small selection of tasks, all pretty much the same aside from the objects and rooms you have to locate said objects in. Simplistic, yet at least it provides us with something to do other than log in and collect an item. I’m just personally bored of the whole “here is a character from your favourite film of which somehow arrived to the island without any real reason for doing so”.

I was actually excited for the party due to its’ potential decoration-wise. The whole island could’ve been underwater – not unlike the Dance Club during the Submarine Party way back in 2008. We did get an overly-aquatic version of the Beach and a new Reef location which I loved – but this should’ve been island-wide! Remember the Festival of Flight in 2009? Imagine if the whole island was underwater instead!

Overall, it was by no means a bad party. I actually rather enjoyed it. Duration, relatively poor selection of items for everyone and wasted potential are perhaps the only downsides. As far as takeovers go, this one is by no means the worst.

Frozen Fever Party 2016 (August 18 – September 28)

Wow, we really get little to no break from takeovers this year do we?! For the third time, Frozen will be hitting the island again. ‘Why another takeover?’ you may ask? Think about it, the summer break will surely spark an increase in players due to the lack of school – therefore it’s a perfect time to offload some nice film advertisements in the form of takeovers!

Megg insists players request this party. Whilst I have no doubts a significant percentage of players adore the film and can’t wait to see the return of Elsa, Olaf and all the others, I do feel that the majority are quite frankly sick of this franchise and haven’t seen a positive response to its’ return on the island.

Going Forward

It’s obvious at this point that the team remains fully focused on CP Re:Mix (Project Super Secret) at this point. The lack of 2D artists explains the continuous recycling of parties and below-average new ones (and also the sheer lack of new items lately). I feel PSS remains a massive hindrance on the game – one in which is become so evident that the games content is severely lacking.

Will PSS be worth it? I hope so. I also believe so. My fundamental complain with this is how long it’s taking for the product to roll out. Many questions remain unanswered. When will the beta launch? Will it be mobile exclusive? When can we actually expect the official launch to be?

Spike Hike is evidently to busy using his profile for political propaganda to answer any of our questions, and Megg is obviously under strict rules of what she can and cannot say. In my opinion, it was announced far too soon. It was announced as a way of keeping players interested and justifying the lack of top quality content we’d come to expect from the game. It honestly feels like the team themselves cannot answer most of our questions – do they even know how everything will work out themselves? Who knows.

Patience is key at this point. Let’s hope PSS isn’t a busted lock.

Until next time..

-Jimbobson

Puffle Party 2016: Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

With March underway, most of us will be questioning why time is flying as if we’re all aboard the Time Trekker 3000. Already in the third month of 2016, we look at the third major event to hit the island; the Puffle Party 2016 edition. Along with many, I was sceptical of this event. Why? Well, every year since 2009 has hosted its own Puffle Party – some better than others. Lately, it seems the parties serve more to introduce a plethora of the furry creatures as opposed to celebrating those we already have. Will 2016’s return to the Puffle Party roots or spam us with more Puffle creatures? Let’s find out!

Content

As usual, this party is a celebration for the island’s beloved pets (No, not Fluffy. Sorry). Never one for a strong narrative or interesting character development, this party historically flourishes in activities and interactivity for players and their virtual pets. This time, we were blessed with some rather fun activities and decently decorated rooms to enjoy – for a whopping 3 weeks! This party also provided Members to adopt every single Puffle to date – even the rare limited ones such as the Blue Crystal & Snowman (Olaf)!

Activites

Each day, players had to hunt down a certain coloured Puffle in order to unlock items inspired by said coloured Puffle. Going to a specific room, players had to click on certain objects to uncover the hiding Puffle. Often, the objects would shake slightly to provide hints. However, sometimes the wrong species of Puffle would appear; meaning players would have to keep looking. An interesting scavenger hunt-inspired activity in which satisfied the cravings left from the absence of Easter Egg scavenger hunts. Whilst not too challenging, I found these simplistic daily hunts to be pleasantly enjoyable, if only the same could be said for the items..

Items

As stated previously, those who completed the tasks for each coloured Puffle received rewards. Basically, the daily rewards were the same, just recoloured. Whilst this can be irritating and certainly becomes tiring, I find that recolouring is suitable for Puffle-themed items as – like Puffles – each colour represents a different personality.

Each reward featured five items. A (specific Puffle coloured) O-berry pin, hoodie, hat, ballon and shoes. Unfortunately, as is with all the events thus far in 2016, Non-Members received nothing but the pins. Whilst everyone could’ve expected to obtain at least the hat if the same party was thrown last year, this is unfortunately not the case anymore; with pins serving as the only item for Non-Members in the 2016 parties thus far. An unjustified, greedy and poor attempt at trying to entice more players to purchase a Membership during CP’s slow decline in quality. The equality bar is continuously lowering, here’s hoping Project Super Secret fixes this.

Decorations

Pretty much the same as the 2015 version, bar a few new balloons and lack of attention to the Wilderness. Some satisfying decorations with some attention to interior rooms means – by recent years standards at least – few will be too disappointed. I think I speak for most when I say true Puffle domains would be a very welcome return (like those seen within the first few versions of the fluffy creature themed event).

Mascots

Everyone’s favourite Puffle-obsessed and for-some-reason-Australian (possibly in relation to how Aussies are stereotypically good with animals?) Puffle Handler; Paige! Sure, nobody actually calls her Paige but that’s still her name.

Verdict

Ultimately, the Puffle Party 2016 was a decent attempt at reviving a somewhat ageing themed party. The added activities provided some interesting things to do that, whilst somewhat lacking in variety, helped fill the void of the Easter Egg scavenger hunts of years passed. Was it the best one yet? Probably not, I preferred the Puffle domains of yesteryear combined with the interesting items – all, or at least most of which, were for everyone. Still, a solid attempt and one that didn’t seem to distract too much from the celebration of Puffles (which is what I felt the 2015 version did – though the Sasquatch plot was somewhat interesting).

Hey, at least we didn’t get plagued with even more Puffles!

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

 

‘Operation: Tri-Umph’ Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

With Club Penguin still busy working on Project Super Secret, the lacklustre Prehistoric Party 2016 was forgiven. Sure, it at least had a narrative and reason for being but ultimately it was simply a rehashed version of those seen in previous years.

This month however, things were different. A brand new EPF mission came to the island, involving everyone’s favourite evil polar bear and crab sidekick. Originally known as Operation: Doom, many (including myself), had high hopes for this event. EPF events have always promised solid storylines and interesting tasks in which standard parties cannot compete against. After Operation: Crustacean in November, few expected another EPF so soon. Will Operation: Tri-Umph compete against the legendary Operation: Blackout? Or did the month-long event overstay its’ welcome? Let’s find out!

Content

EPF operations are known for their narratives in which progress every other day / week. In this case, the story took place over three weeks (hence the ‘tri’ in ‘tri-umph’; with the party lasting four weeks in total. Whilst this undoubtedly sounds like a pretty large-scale event on paper, the reality is unfortunately the contrary.

Herbert had a plan to use the stolen meteor from the UFO as a power source in an attempt to uncolourise the island and shrink penguins. Within the first week, this plan backfired and his laser malfunctioned; resulting in a laser party at the Snow Forts. Add some neon lights, a dance floor, some Member-only items and this was week one completed. No tasks, nothing!

In week two, Herbert’s shrink ray of doom managed to shrink all those who accessed the Town (I’m still confused with this too be honest). Construction workers then built a mini-village consisting of a baseball field and a city road for some reason. Again, Members-only items and the decorations were the only things to enjoy this week. No tasks, again.

In week three, things managed to progress. Herbert managed to de-colourise half of the Plaza (as opposed to the entire island like we were expecting). Both the Mall and the Pizza Parlour (and half of the Plaza) were stripped from their colours and left black and white. As usual, there were a selection of Members-only items to pick up.

This wasn’t it, however! A mysterious cave entrance also appeared at the Plaza. This lead many penguins to suffer from deja vu. Why? Because it was the exact same cave from the Cave Maze mini-event back in April 2015. Once the maze was completed, players then had to unplug Herbert’s machine by literally clicking on the plug. That’s it!

Activities

I pretty much covered this in the Content section. The only thing players had to do throughout this party was the maze (of which was returned from last year, so shouldn’t of given many players too much trouble) and click on a plug. Easiest operation ever!

Items

A very controversial area and in my opinion, a low point of the entire event (which pretty much consisted entirely of low points). Like last month with the T-Rex Hoodie and the Treasure Book exclusives returning as Member-only items in the Penguin Style, every item available at this event were Members-only. Well, okay there was the extremely common Mining Helmet (which is also available at the Gold Mine, all the time) and a Meteor pin. Add to this the Rookie & Herbert giveaway backgrounds and there’s your fill – if you’re a Non-Member at least.

Whilst this is annoying in itself (a party without free items, something CP themselves pioneered in virtual worlds), the real insult was how CP brought back old Non-Member items as Member items. This seems like a huge dig at those who choose not to purchase a membership, and a somewhat cheap effort to try entice more penguin’s to spend actual money on what is honestly, degrading content. I feel CP will become much stricter on items, providing free players the absolute minimum they can get away with without angering players.

Decorations

As there were only a handful of decorated rooms, you may expect all those to be of exceptional high quality in order to showcase what could’ve been a month (or even longer) of hard work from the team. Instead, the rooms were simplistic yet somewhat effective. If I was to some up the decorations, I would say they would feel right at home in either a classic Old CP event or a modern mini-party. Nowhere near Blackout’s standards though, unfortunately.

I feel the main issue here is that we expected Herbert’s contraptions to affect us on an island-wide basis. I expected most if not every room to become black and white, and at least a few to actually shrink (as opposed to it being penguins who shrunk in a limited amount of rooms). Maybe we expected to much from a game in which is still working on its’ biggest update in its’ decade-long history.

Mascots

Rookie and Herbert both appeared as the comic relief protagonist and antagonist respectively. Unfortunately, Herbert was never actually seen in the flesh, only appearing on screens and via the Club Penguin Times. He should’ve at least appeared at the end of the Mine Cave in an effort to protect his equipment and stop any intruders. Instead, he was nowhere to be found.

Verdict

Honestly, this party was a huge let down. The fact it was an operation promised some fun tasks, a strong narrative and the usual cameo appearance of Herbert. This event had none of these. Each week I was left feeling disappointed. Each week we had no tasks to complete or items (for everyone) to enjoy. It honestly felt like a mixture of mini-parties, something in which I thought I never would’ve used to explain an Operation. Constructive criticism? Weekly tasks, free items for everyone and an island-wide event, not limited to the Forts, Town and Plaza.

Once again, it seems like the excuse is Project Super Secret. However, next month we see yet another return of the Puffle Party. This looks to have more in common with the tradition versions of this party as opposed to recent renditions; with the return of the Puffle domains and even a new Puffle parade to get excited about. Here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson.

Prehistoric Party 2016: Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

I’ve been putting this off for some time now. Mainly because the Prehistoric Parties don’t fill me with excitement. But, it has to be done! So let’s take a look at how the 2016 version compared to it’s ’13 and ’14 counterparts.

Content

Those players who have experienced at least one of the dinosaur-filled events before will have a strange sense of deja vu – obviously! Whilst the party is of course set in the past, the three versions are practically the same. The return of transformations and everyone’s favourite Dino Dig as January entertainment will certainly not be to everyone’s taste; though there are some positives in relation to the narrative.

This year’s version had us travel back in time in order to collect meteor fragments (via Dino Dig..obviously), in order to restore power to the UFO and send the Alien Puffles back on their way. Whilst we never actually saw this happen (other than a passing image in the newspaper), it brought a sense of purpose to the party; something in which is rarely seen in modern day Club Penguin.

As for that, pretty much everything was the same.

Activities/Quests

2013 introduced Dino Dig, a game similarly to Rockhopper’s Treasure Hunt in which allowed players to dig up coins and dinosaur eggs – allowing for transformations. This time, we had to hunt for meteor segments as stated previously. Whilst not nearly as frustrating as the game was in its’ 2013 and 2014 versions, the whole thing simply felt tiring and overdone. Much like throwing snowballs at things.

As usual, the typical “come back ____ to unlock this!” feature returned. Loathed by some, it prevents players from completing the event too quickly; a major issue considering the sheer length of the parties today. However, those with the CP app can complete all the tasks whenever they wish; regardless of the daily limit plaguing the desktop version. An imbalance here that surely needs to be solved when the legendary Project Super Secret eventually debuts.

Items

In terms of Non-Member items, literally the same as the 2014 version, bar the Asteroid Head which was ironically from the Future Party. The Prehistoric Beta Hat also returned unfortunately. I would’ve preferred to stay in the past to at least try add some rarity and exclusivity to this gimmicky item. Ultimately, this was the part I was disappointed at the most.

Interestingly, the T-Rex Hoodie (from the 2013 Prehistoric Party) returned as a Members only item. Add to this the return of Treasure Book exclusives as Member items in the Penguin Style catalogue and we can presume CP is really hitting the limits on not only their originality but also how low they will go purely to prevent Non-Members obtaining body items.

Decorations

Again, the same as what we’ve seen previously. Whilst nobody can complain that they aren’t nicely decorated, the Prehistoric version of rooms has me feeling like I’m not playing CP at all. Arguably the most iconic thing about CP is its’ location; a winter wonderland full of penguins and their furry pets. Replace winter wonderland with a volcanic lava-filled island consisting of dinosaurs and the game feels more like an attempt at mimicking the now extinct (pun intended) Webosaurs.

Is it too much to ask for a Prehistoric Party set during the ice age (no, not the film), consisting of sabre-toothed cats and mammoths? At least then the game would feel more contextually appropriate. Anyway, moving on..

Mascots

Gary, of course! He has been the mascot for every Prehistoric Party thus far. Anyone else would feel totally out of place.

Verdict

It’s no secret that I’ve never particularly enjoyed the Prehistoric Parties. They feel cliched and unlike CP. The lack of snow, ice and various other factors may be appealing for some but again it feels like Webosaurs. Players (non-members at least) who had experienced 2014’s version had no reason to log in other than to hunt down the Fluffy pin (which was hidden in Prehistoric CP – an admittedly nice touch).

However, the party does have at least some purpose in the respect of finally bringing the Operation: Crustacean event to a close. It lacked the subtle details such as a Prehistoric interface (such as the stone map and chat bars etc) and offered nothing new; something this party desperately needed. Regardless, I feel this month’s key event was a filler, paving the way to February’s highly anticipated Operation: Doom, the second EPF related event in 6 months. Let’s hope it holds its own against Operation: Blackout as opposed to Crustacean.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

2016 in CP: 5 Things I’d Like To See

Greetings Penguins!

This is the third post from me within a week – such a rarity nowadays! As the title is so self-explanatory I’m sure you can guess what this post will be about. If not, it’s a top 5 list of features and various other things I’d like to see from CP in 2016. Let’s begin!

1) Project Super Secret

This needs no introduction. We’ve been promised Project Super Secret for a long time now and, despite not having an official release date, we have been told this will be released this year. Whilst we’re still not fully sure what it entails, it will be the biggest update to the game in CP’s history and will hopefully give us veteran players something to keep us playing for many more years.

Simply put, CP is extremely out of date. Being the same old browser-based Flash game since 2005; we’ve had parties, Puffles and items galore. Unfortunately, the quality of such has declined dramatically within recent years. PSS should revitalise the game and bring it up to speed with modern technology. Personally, I can’t wait!

2) Improved Parties

Currently it feels like we’ve experienced each party several times before. Whilst some – albeit a small selection that aren’t takeovers – are new, they simply don’t possess the same quality of entertainment in which those from 2005-2010 did. I’d personally like to see more of the EPF and Herbert; something like Operation: Blackout or something on an equally-grand scale.

Also, anyone remember the classic Music Jam and Summer Kickoff Parties? These classic parties offered little in the ways of challenging tasks or a heavy narrative influence, though were enjoyed purely for their roleplaying opportunities and outstanding attention to detail in terms of decoration. More of this, please!

3) Improved Chat Filter

Ever since CP switched from a black list to a white list approach, the filter has become far too strict for the average user. The once occasional “Did that show?” has now become so frequent that many user’s have flocked to the likes of social media instead.

Whilst the occasional sentence does manage to bypass the filter, the damage done to roleplaying and social interactivity is one that – in my opinion – is a major factor as to why so many of the game’s fanbase has decided to leave. A game in which was created to provide children with a safe environment to interact with others around the world has now failed in letting them interact sufficiently – 10 years after its’ release.

4) Merchandise

2008 was a huge year for CP as it saw the introduction of merchandise. Whilst plush Puffles, keychains and T-shirts were available from 2006, 2008’s merchandising efforts were helped tremendously by Disney. Playsets, plush penguins and Puffles, mix and match figures, Card Jitsu cards and many more; 2008 was arguably CP’s biggest year online.

Since then, we’ve seen various Nintendo DS games, apps and even an official Club Penguin magazine (which has now been discontinued). Nowadays, if fans of the game wish to purchase their own CP-merch they must resort to third-party websites such as eBay or Amazon. Whilst the merchandise was likely stopped due to declining sales, I feel it seriously harms a game of this size. Minecraft has a plethora of toys available, as does Bin Weevils and various other online games..

Not that I expect 2016 to be any different but I’d love to see at least some physical CP memorabilia in the offline world. Maybe the release of Project Super Secret will boost interest within the game once more?

5) No more excuses!

This is a controversial one that I imagine very few will understand what I mean (at least instantly anyway). For several years, we’ve been told that parties have gotten smaller due to the team being busy creating other things – aka Project Super Secret. It makes little sense for a game owned by a giant corporation such as Disney creating content in which is lacking when compared to the game in 2006 – just a year after its’ release.

Whilst it’s true virtual worlds aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, we can’t expect such a dramatic decline in quality from a game in which dominated the Internet throughout 2006-2008. Project Super Secret’s release is sometime this year – after that I expect the quality of content to raise dramatically. If not, how else can they expect to maintain their fanbase?

Regardless, here’s to the rest of 2016 and whatever it brings. One thing is for certain, it’s bound to be the biggest year since 2008.

Random CP Fact #55: Club Penguin’s laughing emote once looked quite different than what we see today. It was changed way back in 2007 due to the blatant similarities between that and Yahoo! Messenger’s logo. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 20.05.49

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson