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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

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

10th Anniversary Party Critical Review!

Today marks the end of the much anticipated 10th Anniversary party. A huge milestone in CP’s history deserves a huge party – a big statement when considering the Anniversary parties of previous years have fallen in the Halloween parties’ shadows. So, how did CP celebrate turning a decade old? Let’s begin this review!

Content

Most Anniversary parties simply have one or two decorated rooms (the Coffee Shop and Book Room / CP Times office). The only exception to this was the 3rd Anniversary, which also saw the Town decorated. Since then, the birthday events have grown smaller and smaller each year which is ironic considering its’ aim was to celebrate the game growing older and thus bigger, though this wasn’t exactly the case as we all know. This anniversary was the first to actually sport an actual plot – other than to simply celebrate the game’s birthday. Gary created MascBots – robot versions of CP’s beloved mascots. However, the second week of the island-wide event saw the MascBots go haywire. What did we honestly expect from a Gary invention that was only version 2999?!

Activities/Quests 

Like with all Anniversaries prior, we didn’t actually have to do much other than to collect a party hat and pretend to eat cake. However, there was a new Item Calendar which saw the return of 21 items from previous parties, and even a few extra bonus items for completing a few tasks that had returned too. The prime example here being that of Santa’s Sled (accessible from the Book Room during several Christmas parties).

Coming back every day to collect a new – or rather old – item may seem a tedious process but this time I found that it built up excitement rather than boredom. We could see every item on the calendar, but couldn’t collect them until they were unlocked. This meant that, upon logging in and clicking the calendar, player’s were greeted with the sight of extremely rare and sought after items – but more on those later. All in all, a fun and very simplistic party. Activities / quests were simply not necessary.

Items

Ah, where to begin. As mentioned previously, there was a brilliant 21 item calendar full of returning items. The best part? There were two very, very rare items that haven’t returned since 2006 and 2007 respectively. These items of course are the Ice Skates and Blue Lei. No, not quite the Hawaiian (or Red) Lei, but still a very rare item. Other items of interest are the Yellow Inflatable Duck (from 2006 and 2008), the Brown Pirate Boots (2008) and Marshmallow Stick (2007). Add to this several other items from 2008 – 2014 and you have a plethora of items to collect. There was also two items that were previously Members-only items. These were the Cream Pie (Muppet’s World Tour 2014) and the Lantern (Halloween Party 2008). These means that if your penguin has always been a non-member, you received at least two free items – even if you’ve played since 2005. It also of course means that if you signed up after August 2006, you received at least one item. Awesome!

These items were not randomly selected however, they were instead chosen due to the party the rooms were decorated from. For example, the Blue Lei returned as the Beacon’s decorations were from the Summer Kick off Party 2007. Likewise with the Ice Skates returning due to the Ski Hill’s Sports Party 2006 decorations.

But, that’s not it! 21 items is a huge amount for any party – but let’s not forget the main item from this event – the party hat! The 10th Anniversary Party Hat is undoubtedly the most complex thus far, sporting a more interesting and ‘busy’ design (complete with animated sparklers!). Whilst this item was great for a Anniversary of this significance, I hope they return to the simplistic design next year.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Yellow, Pink and Blue Lightbulb head item’s that were available for everyone after delivering presents on Santa’s Sled (returning from the Holiday Party 2012). Let’s also not forget about the 8 autographed mascot backgrounds that were also available if you managed to meet said mascots (all backgrounds returned from various years). Overall, this party offered the richest selection of free items from any party – ever. Best of all, everything was available for everyone!

Mascots

Not only did this party feature MascBots as tour guides for respective rooms, but the actual mascots themselves returned to celebrate the landmark event. Unfortunately, not every mascot made a appearance however. The Penguin Band saw themselves without an invite and Herbert was busy creating the Herbot. Sasquatch didn’t make an appearance either, which would’ve been nice since he seems to have been forgotten about since the Puffle Party 2015.

Decorations

This is another area in which the 10th Anniversary truly shone – in a way which no other party in history has shone before. Whilst only two brand new decorated rooms sounds lacklustre at best, this party’s focus was of course about the history of the game. Most rooms on the island were decorated the exact same way they had been during a respective party. For example, the Book Room was decorated how it was during the Halloween Party 2008, complete with the Secret Chamber special party room of the same year. Pretty much every major room had been decorated, complete with either a Tour bot or a MascBot, which was contextually placed in rooms that were decorated from a party focusing a certain mascot. For example, the Rockhopper MascBot could be found at the Forest, which featured the 2010 Island Adventure Party decorations.

This ensured the party had a lot of variety and randomness – something in which in this context is completely welcome. Some examples included the Christmas Party of 2006 at the Ice Rink, the Puffle Party 2010 at the Snow Forts, the April Fools Party 2008 at the Iceberg and even Camp Penguin of 2007 at the Dock. All in all, an incredibly richly decorated party, with a unique blend of classic and modern artwork. A perfect way to celebrate 10 years!

If I WAS to be critical however, I could’ve complained at the lack of room rotation. Imagine if each room changed on the second week to that of a completely different party. Whilst that would’ve certainly been interesting, it could’ve been confusing. Especially for the Tour and MascBots. Regardless, I’m happy with what we got.

Foreshadowing

Here’s an extra section I figured I would add exclusively for this party (or indeed any other parties in which show elements of this in the future). You may wonder what I mean by ‘foreshadowing’. Well, put simply, I mean in the plot sense. For example, something happens in a party that then leads the way for the next party. For example, a blizzard occurred during the Christmas Party 2006. The snow was then stored (and kept cool thanks to Gary’s AC 3000) in the Lodge Attic, only to be used two months later for the Festival of Snow in February 2007. Another example was when a crab broke a window in the Underground Pool / Cave way back in July 2007 – leading to the Water Party.

In this case, Gary’s MascBots began to malfunction during the second week of the event. This means that the malfunctioned bots will begin to cause havoc at the Halloween Party (2015 obviously!), turning them into almost zombified versions of themselves. A really nice plot device that I found worked especially well here. Kudos CP! Let’s have more of this in the future, please..

Verdict

Ultimately, this party was everything we expected / wanted and more. Celebrating CP turning a decade old by looking back at the previous ten years and providing entertainment accordingly. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing rooms I haven’t seen in a very long time and even experiencing some for the first time (the Ice Rink in particular). Combine this with the interesting narrative focusing upon Gary’s MascBots and we had a pretty great party – my favourite since Operation Blackout.

Will the Halloween Party 2015 top this? Well, at the time of writing it’s already begun and I’ve already completed all the tasks (via the app – no waiting necessary!). All I can say at this point is..No, nO…NO…ZZT *BZORT error 420 reSTART in PROGRESS…C0NTACT ManuFACTUR3R 

Random CP Fact #50: The current pin – the Anniversary Balloons – is the first pin to ever be hidden in the Town. The team had often stated they would never do this in the past due to the sheer popularity of the room. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

Jimbobson   JimBOTSon

Fashion Festival Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Well, the past few weeks have gone insanely quick. Anyone agree? I completely forgot The Descendants Party started this week, and thus ended up missing a pin in the process (oops!). Regardless, let’s look back at August’s main attraction: the Fashion Festival.

Content

As the name suggests, this party was based around fashion. And a festival. Different categories and sub-categories (challenges) were present across 3 stages at the party. These were ‘Silly Fashion’, ‘Fashion for the Great Outdoors’ and a third one located at the Snow Forts which didn’t have a name, for some reason. Each sub-category changed every three days, thus creating plenty of opportunities for players to dress-up and show off how well they could capture the essence of such favourites as ‘Robo Ninja’, ‘Magical Butterfly’ or ‘Hollywood High School’.

Once players were happy with their outfit, they could submit it and other players would vote for their favourites (more on that later). Overall, it was a party that managed to keep players logging in whilst successfully incorporating interactivity, and, to an extent, roleplaying.

Activities/Quests

So the idea here is to wear a combination of items to form an outfit which is relevant to a certain category. For example, ‘Prehistoric Prom’ saw plenty of items from the Prehistoric parties combined with this month’s Penguin Style. ‘Robo Ninja’ saw plenty of Protobot and Stormtroopers wearing ninja gear. Once happy with an outfit, player’s then submit their design and other players can then vote. To submit an outfit however, first players had to vote 10 times to receive an entry ticket. This could be done unlimited times, so multiple entries per category were certainly not uncommon.

The voting system was simple, somewhat fair yet flawed. A great idea and executed finely by the team, only to be ruined by the players. The voting screen showed two players’ penguins, either two Members or two Non-Members (as indicated by a Member badge or indeed a lack of). Simply clicking on whichever design you preferred would result in one vote for said penguin. After clicking, both the penguin’s name and the number of likes they had already received were shown. No biased votes here folks!

However, the issue arose with how much voting players actually had to do. 10 votes for a single ticket seemed a little much. Especially when there were three categories to submit for at a given time. Entering each one once would require 30 votes! Thus, many simply clicked on any penguin, regardless of their outfit, to quickly receive a submit ticket. This meant that naked penguins could receive 12 votes whereas a penguin fully decorated in contextual fashion would receive less (as a very rough example). Ultimately, good work by CP, but sadly let down by its’ own fanbase.

Items

There were 2, both of which were backgrounds. One was only available if you met Dot, the sole mascot at the event. Whilst this sounds mediocre, the idea of the party was to use the items you already had, rather than obtaining new ones. Regardless, I’d of liked to have seen some trophies or some other items of relevance as rewards for taking part.

Mascots

Dot! For the first time ever, Dot was available to meet as mascot. She of course had a new background, which was exactly the same as her playercard. She even sported a currently unavailable-to-the-public Lavender colour (known as Dot Lavender). Even as a male, I still prefer that to the Aqua colour which won the Colour Vote of 2009.

You may have expected Cadence to make an appearance here but this wasn’t to be. I feel she has appeared a little too much over the years anyway.

Decorations

If there was one word to some up the decorations for this party it would be purple. A sunset/twilight/dusk setting saw the island flooded in vibrant purples and reds. A nice change to once again see the sky a different shade, and probably the closest we will be getting to a day/night cycle anytime soon.

6 rooms were decorated fully, not including the rooms in which only the sky was the thing that had changed. Whilst this number isn’t the largest amount ever, it was satisfactory due to the fact that the decorated rooms were the only places you’d really be wanting to visit during the party anyway – with the Forest, Snow Forts and Dock being the major focal points.

Glitches/Bugs

Unfortunately this party was badly plagued with bugs to begin with. At first, voting wasn’t even working properly, resulting in the majority of players not being able to submit anything for others to be unable to vote on anyway. Confusing? You bet. There was also the slight issue of voting not working properly on the app, which was simply annoying and inconvenient. Thankfully, most of the issues were fixed before the party’s end.

Verdict

Ok, so I actually rather liked this party. I took part in most of the categories and received a modest amount of votes. I enjoyed the player interactivity which is always a bonus for a party taking part on an online game full of creative people. Some categories seemed a little gender-based or indeed Member-based. ‘Magic Butterfly’ being a prime example of both. Non-members never received many butterfly themed items at all. Don’t even get me started on ‘Rainbow Mermaid’..Anyways, I would’ve liked some sort of reward for taking part, other than a background. Maybe a medal or a trophy or something?

Also, did anyone else notice just how many items there has been throughout CP history? It all seems a little too overwhelming in my opinion. I used to know every single item and the party or event it came from. Nowadays? I get confused. And that’s coming from a player since 2007. Maybe I’m just getting old..

So now we look towards Septembe…oh yes we’re already there. The Descendants party is currently live so expect a review on that coming soon. Also, expect a review regarding the Talk Like a Pirate Day mini-event soon!

Random CP Fact #47: In 2009, there was a Colour vote which allowed players to vote on the next colour available to penguins. The choices were: Aqua, Maroon and Lavender. Aqua won which caused some controversy (due to how similar it was to Light Blue). Many suspect that big-time-blogger-at-the-time Mimo777 caused Aqua’s victory, as he promised a party hosted by himself if his choice won.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

Inside Out Party Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

After a very quiet month of June from everyone’s favourite winter wonderland virtual world, many including myself were excited to see what the team had been working on for July’s party. We knew it would be a takeover, focusing on the recently released Inside Out film by Disney Pixar. Add to this the inclusion of a popular CP original mascot and a fairly solid storyline and we have what looks, on paper, to be a major party of 2015. So, let’s see how it stacked up..

Content

Poor old Rockhopper had lost his memories, meaning Gary had to once again build a machine (the Minderizer 3000) that would save the day (with our help of course!). How did he lose memories I hear you ask? By eating cursed cheese from a dodgy island, of course! Entering Rockhopper’s mind and completing tasks for each of his emotions (inspired by those from the film) in order to recover his memories is certainly hard work. Or was it? If anything, it seemed a little too easy. But more on that later.

Activities/Quests

To recover the beloved Captain’s memories, players had to first venture inside Rockhopper’s mind – which was luckily accessible from the Dock (the only decorated room on the island..). Once inside, each of the emotions would provide players with tasks to complete, all of which were remarkably similar – leaving a bad taste of repetition on the beaks of many penguins. The typical ‘go to X room and find X’ applies here. Whilst more challenging than the infamous Frozen party’s tedious snowflake collecting task, finding the different memory ‘orbs’ was easy for most. Once found, players had to then complete an ‘Ice Jam’ style game which again, provided very very little satisfaction in terms of challenging the player’s mind (ha, mind).

Overall, this party had us completing the same tasks for each of the 5 emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear). As you can expect, this got tiresome. Very quickly. Whilst many may have enjoyed something different from the usual ‘come back tomorrow for another item!’ task, if you will, I personally found it underwhelming. The added dialogue from each of the emotions also seemed slightly cheesy, though I understand why it was done.

Items

Plenty of items inspired by the film. Who’d of guessed? The usual suspects appear here once again. Wigs, dresses, other outfits and a selection of hand items for non-members. Whilst none were particularly bad, none are either memorable either. The only reason anyone will recognise where they came from when searching through a plethora of pages within their inventory will be because of the characters in the film – not the memory of a truly enjoyable party. I realise I’ve said it before, but I dislike wigs and clothes in which make penguin’s appear too human (the uncanny valley, anyone?). Hair on penguins just looks odd..

Personally, I would’ve liked to receive each of the emotions’ hats they were wearing (basically the same as Rockhopper’s but the Puffle had the same expression as that of each emotion). It was a party about Rockhopper, after all. The Captain did of course give us some ‘booty’, a small collection of Member-only items that had all been seen at previous parties. Yay!

Mascots

Rockhopper, obviously! Well, kind of. Not really? He was sat at the Dock for the duration of the party. Gary did waddle around the island, however. No new backgrounds though.

Decorations

After last month’s Festival of Snow came without much warning, you’d expect a party as hyped as this one had decorations that even the Halloween parties would envy, right? Wrong! As stated previously, the Dock was the only decorated room on the island. Rockhopper’s mind was another, consisting of 7 decorated rooms (Headquarters, Dream Productions, Food Island, Imaginationland, Loot Island and the Subconscious). Each room sure looked rather pretty, but offered very little in terms of interactivity which is a huge shame. I also found that the Orbs didn’t necessarily fit in with each room. An anger-based orb in Loot Island? Why not Joy? Whyyy?

Little decoration is never fun. Never. The rooms in which are decorated are slightly above average at best, certainly not inspiring or anything too mind-blowing (ha, there it is again).

Inconsistences

Here’s a new one I bet none of y’all were expecting. What do I mean? Well, when we got to see memory flashbacks that would correlate to each emotion, one stood out as being almost insulting to us older players. When completing Joy’s task, we are shown Rockhopper first discovering Yarr. However, Rockhopper is wearing his current selection of items – including his pirates jacket in which he didn’t wear back in 2006. Most wouldn’t of noticed this, but I found it annoying.

Verdict

Okay, so CP had a month off. To produce this?! This seemed like an overblown mini-party as opposed to one that was as overhyped as this was. I personally much preferred last month’s Festival of Snow – featuring island-wide decorations, memorable items and player interactivity (players designed the ice sculptures..). This party seemed a little…rushed. Sure, there was a storyline, but it was too farfetched – a huge statement considering the context of the game. CP also managed to avoid returning the Migrator once again. The build-up notes sent by Rockhopper (available to read via the CP Times weeks before the party started) didn’t do the party any justice either. Sure, it provided context and a seemingly decent storyline, but it turned out to be a huge letdown – at least for me.

Give me an old fashioned Rockhopper visit, featuring Yarr and the Migrator over this any day. Who knows when we’ll next see our favourite penguin pirate. For now however, we turn our attentions to August’s party – the Fashion Festival. Let’s hope it’s not as gender-biased as it sounds.

Now, where’s that cursed cheese? I need to erase a certain film-inspired party from my own memory..

Random CP Fact #46: August 2015’s Penguin Style catalogue is the biggest ever. Featuring a plethora of old and new items, for Members and Non-Members. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Frozen Fever Party Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, my offline life got the better of me once again. Regardless, here’s the Frozen Fever critical review – almost a month after it occurred! Superb timing.

Content

Those who attended the first Frozen party last year felt a powerful sense of deja vu upon exploring CP’s latest party efforts. Why? It was pretty much exactly the same as the first – bar a plethora of pins, a couple of rooms and a few new items. Overall, it felt completely unnecessary. At least the second Marvel Avengers takeover gave us something different from the first. Ultimately, it felt stale and stands as one of the weakest – if not the weakest parties of the year. Personally, this party would’ve been half-decent if this was the first time we were forced to endure another Disney-inspired event. Instead, it failed in more areas than it succeeded. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Activities/Quests

Those who hated finding oversized snowflakes last year were sure to hate this years even more. Amazingly, the team reduced the size of the snowflakes. Great, right? Wrong. They were still far too large and provided about as much of a challenge as logging in over the past month has (connection issues have plagued the game recently). There were also a large amount of pins to collect for some reason, but more on that later.

Items

There was once a time when a party contained (typically) 1-3 items. Whilst this sounds lacklustre compared to today’s standards, these items were often very inspiring. Whether clever renditions of real-life items or completely organic designs; these items contained thought and many even included special dances which is an unfortunate rarity nowadays. Regardless, none of this was present within April’s wintery party..

Featuring the exact same items as the first version of a party isn’t uncommon, but there’s usually at least more stuff to do or something unique to that version. Non-members were graced with the exact same selection as last time, bar the pins and a new igloo that was so heavily gender-specific I’m unsure why there wasn’t two of them. Members got a couple of new stuff to play with; all of which were of course inspired by the 7-minute short that inspired the party.

Like last time, Members could adopt the elusive Ola..sorry, Snowman Puffle. Non-members couldn’t, so there was little progress in that respect. Transformations returned also, giving those with little imagination even more reason to play. As for those pins I wrote about previously – there was far too many. 10. 10 pins. Within 2 rooms. 5 per room. All so painfully easy to find. Pointless comes to mind. Just when we thought CP were restoring the once greatness of the ever-growing playercard decorations.

Mascots

None. Again.

Verdict

Surprisingly this wasn’t one of my favourite parties of all time. Since its’ announcement few were excited about it and who could blame them? The lack of a plot strikes again and suggests CP simply needed a bit more money and more time to work on other stuff (such as maybe Project Super Secret if that still exists). The same items (bar a few new ones), the same Elsa palace appearance, the same decorations, the same transformations…you get the idea.

Before anybody claims this, yes I do realise Screenhog stated on Twitter how this is what CP should be doing (recycling old parties). However, if CP has any hope of bringing the game back to at least half of its’ former glory, this isn’t the way to do it. It seems like a defeatist approach – but I’m sure this is an overreaction and new content is on the horizon.

Moving Forward..

In 2 days something very interesting happens. CP hosts 2 completely different parties on its’ desktop and mobile platforms. This ensures that the desktop versions’ parties aren’t hindered by the app’s lack of functionality. A very smart move from CP. What are those parties, you ask? The desktop will see the return of The Fair whereas the mobile app will see a Rainbow Puffle celebration event. Though we don’t know too much, we can confirm that The Fair 2015 will be an evolution of 2014’s attempts, rather than the classic 2007/etc offerings. The team also confirmed that my dreaded nemesis ‘The Daily Spin’ will be making an un-welcome return.

In terms of the Rainbow Puffle event, non-members will be available to adopt one of the multicoloured-fluffball for this party. Equality for all!

Random CP Fact #43: The Golden Goggles are a new item released to the game. To own them, player’s must have the highest score out of all their friends (at the end of that respective week) on the Sled Racer mobile app (for iOS and Android). 

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Jim’s Tech – What Do I use?

Greetings All!

This marks my first post that is not associated with CP whatsoever. Instead, I will be talking about which devices I’m currently using in certain categories. The major focus will go on the 3 main categories; smartphone, tablet and computer.

Smartphone: HTC One (M8)

I’ve always been a fan of Android ever since I first experienced it – when a relative of mine purchased the original Samsung Galaxy Note. The huge, vibrant screen was overwhelming. Up until then, I was using old phones simply for the text/call factor, not to download games and browse the web. The Note itself is what booted my love for smartphones. I’ve been obsessed with smartphones for years now, one is always on my person wherever I go. The plethora of possibility in such a portable, personal device is probably my favourite thing about them. Music? Apps? Games? Reading? Browsing? Watching videos? Taking photos? Emails? No problem!

My first Android device was a Samsung Galaxy III – a phone in which made me question how I lived my life without a smartphone in the first place. It was an amazing device for its’ time. The size of the screen was perhaps one of the most attracting factor, combined with Samsung’s famous Super AMOLED screens – praised for their saturated colours. I used this thing for everything. It came with me everywhere. Being an Android user, I eventually decided to install a custom ROM to replace Samsung’s stock TouchWiz UI (which can be a little laggy sometimes). Regardless, I ran several ROM’s including Liquidsmooth and CyanogenMOD. Both of which being great alternatives.

Since then (Late mid 2012) I’ve owned several other phones, including the Galaxy Note and the Google Nexus 4. The Note I found to be a little awkward to hold at times, whereas the Nexus 4 was fantastic due to its’ build quality and pure Android – though it did lack several features I missed from Samsung’s versions. After another relative purchased the original HTC One (M7), I was immediately curious. I hadn’t used a HTC Android phone before, but wow what a beast that thing was. Combining exceptional design, build quality, software, hardware and of course those famous front-facing speakers – the M7 rightly won the Phone of the Year award from T3. Sense, HTC’s version of Android, was particularly impressive. HTC had taken Google’s Android and included features and an interface that was beneficial for the user – and not just a bloatware marketing gimmick that TouchWiz seems to offer.

With this in mind, I got my HTC One M8 this year. Thus far, I love the device. The BoomSound features are perhaps my favourite feature. The full aluminium unibody design rivals anything Apple has brought to the table. One could say the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been influenced by HTC’s design standards – particularly when both are compared to the M8. I use this device a lot every day. It’s always with me. I also use it for music purposes – rather than those people who instead like to carry a MP3 Player and a smartphone at the same time.

As rumours hot up regarding the M8’s successor – codenamed ‘Hima’ – I instead look forward to Android 5.0 Lollipop and HTC’s next version of Sense (Sense 7.0). Will I become increasingly jealous over the M9 as time goes on? I hope not. My bank wouldn’t appreciate buying out my contract which has over a year left!

Tablet: iPad Mini 2

I bet readers didn’t expect that. “But you love Android?” Yes. But I also enjoy iOS. There are plenty of people whom possess one or the other and therefore begin to hate on the one they don’t own. I instead prefer to own several devices in which run on different operating systems – thus getting the best of all the worlds. Android I prefer for its’ customisation, rich features and the fact that devices aren’t limited to one manufacturer. Don’t like Samsung but like Android? No problem! Go with HTC. Or LG. Or Moto. And so on.

I’ve always used iOS for tablets. I love the seamless way iOS seems to simply just work. iOS 8 is a great mobile OS that serves its’ purpose incredibly well. It’s simple and easy to use for everyone, contains a great App Store and of course updates come straight to your device direct from the manufacturer. The tablet-optimised apps are also a huge factor when selecting a tablet. Android has been guilty of having scaled-up smartphone apps on the Google Play store many times before.

After owning an old preowned iPad 1, I instantly felt the need for more power in a thinner, lighter, more attractive package. The iPad 4 then replaced my dated iPad 1 which couldn’t run many apps without force closing. The Retina Display has become the industry standard today – with several even surpassing Apple’s efforts by including a Quad-HD screen into their smartphones (LG G3 for example). Revolutionary in 2010 (2012 for tablets) perhaps, but the quality of the screen still remains great to look at even today.

I did originally intend on getting an iPad Mini. The rumours of a thinner, lighter yet smaller and more affordable iPad sounded perfect to me. Particularly the more affordable part. Of course, the first generation iPad Mini came with too many limitations for me to be convinced. A two year old A5 chip with a non-Retina screen and 512MB RAM for a not-so cheap price when compared to its’ then competition? No thanks. With that in mind, I went for the iPad 4 and never looked back..

..Until a few months ago. My friend got an iPad Mini 2. After trying it out, I was slightly jealous. I became aware of how large and heavy the iPad 4 seemed. The performance improvement and overall better design were also tempting. Of course by this point the most recent iPad Mini – the iPad Mini 3 had been released. All that changed was the addition of a new gold colour and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the home button. No A8X chip or increase in RAM like the iPad Air 2. Heck, not even a A8 chip like those found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I was hugely disappointed with Apple’s efforts. Ignoring the Mini after the 2 was so successful? Frustrating.

The big decrease in price for the Mini 2 meant I was too tempted to resist. I ultimately sold my iPad 4 and purchased an iPad Mini 2. It’s a fantastic device that I use a lot more often than I did with my iPad 4. The added portability really does make a difference. Maybe not so much anymore with the Air series, but definitely compared to the older iPads.

Computer: MacBook Pro (Late 2011)

I’ve always been a Windows user. I enjoyed Windows. Sure it was slow after a while and viruses were much more common on the Microsoft OS, but it served its’ purpose as my everyday OS. Being familiar with several versions; XP, Vista, 7, 8 and even the Technical Preview of 10 – I was never bothered about Apple’s efforts. Why? Because Macs are expensive. Everyone knows this. Some argue you pay more for a all-round better machine, others state that you can purchase a much better spec’d Windows machine for the same price.

It was until I discovered a cheap MacBook on a selling website that I was content with Windows. Noticing that it had an Intel Core i7 processor (quad-core) rather than an i5 – even if it was an older model – I gave in. I’d never even properly used a Mac before, and there was I purchasing a still somewhat expensive couple-year old machine running an OS I had no idea how to use. Many people questioned my spontaneous, admittedly hasty decision.

Over a year later and I can say without hesitation that it is the best computer I’ve ever used. Mac OS X is a real pleasure to use. It makes the often slow, clunky OS that is Windows something that I don’t plan on using on a personal computer – unless of course Windows 10 is mind-blowing. I realise many dislike Macs due to their weaker gaming efforts, or simply because of their pricier nature. The keyboard, the trackpad, the screen, the OS, the build quality, the MagSafe charger, the speakers – everything oozes quality that I’ve yet to use on a non-Apple computer. I’m not necessarily a fanboy, I just appreciate Macs for what they are – outstanding computers. I hope, my bank depending, that I can continuously use Macs for good. This computer has served me incredibly well already; though I hope there’s many more years to come.

Reserve Computer: Samsung RV515 Laptop

My previous laptop before it was replaced by my MacBook. Now its’ used as a backup, and often an attempt to see if certain Mac-created content works on Windows. Currently it’s enjoying life running Windows 10 Technical Preview which is already a big improvement when compared to Windows 8. Its’ slowness has began to show however, thus resulting in it rarely been used for anything other than tests.

Consoles: Nintendo 3DS & Sony PS4

I’m a huge Pokemon fan as I’m sure some know. I also enjoy many other games Nintendo offers like the Super Mario Bros franchise. I’ve owned Nintendo handheld consoles since the Game Boy Colour – and will continue to do so as long as great games – particularly Pokemon – are being released.

In terms of the powerhouses, I’ve always owned the PlayStation consoles rather than Xbox. Purchasing a PS3 and indeed recently a PS4 was another one of my more easily-convinced-by-people hasty decisions. Regardless, I don’t regret either. The likes of FIFA, Skyrim and several others keeps me entertained for hours.

Conclusion

And thus wraps up the main tech I use on a regular basis. Of course, there’s other devices such as a Nintendo Wii, TV and all that jazz but I decided to instead focus on the main 4 categories. I hope you all enjoyed this first non-CP-related post and look forward to more. Of course you can also expect the Star Wars Rebels critical review within the coming week too. Stay tuned1

Until next time!

– Jimbobson

2014 in CP – Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

There’s much debate about which year has been the best year (ever) in CP. Some prefer the simplicity of the 2006/7 days whilst others appreciate the rich content and gameplay of the 2009-2011 years. Whichever your preference, there’s little debate about which year has been the worst (or at least the most unsuccessful) year on the snow covered island. That year is of course 2014.

Content

2014 has been interesting. We’ve had the usual 12 months of main parties, including new mini-events inspired by the game in its’ youth. Not only this, but CP gave us a plethora of Puffles, pins, items and quests to enjoy – not to mention a stop-motion animated TV show and a couple of mobile applications. On paper, this would sound like a very fruitful and successful year. How can the release of so much content result in a disappointing year when the likes of 2005-7 brought nothing special outside of the game itself?

The fundamental issue is not the content itself, but rather the quality of said content. Sure, we got a lot of new stuff this year, but little of it was actually worth the player’s time. More on this later however. The point here is that this year was disappointing. Maybe not to new players or when compared to other virtual worlds, but definitely a major let-down in terms of Club Penguin’s famous standards.

Parties

The major issue throughout the year was the parties. These events are one of the major selling points of the game as each unique party – whether sponsored by another franchise or not – are original due to the fact that they take place on an island inhabited primarily by penguins. Parties aim to attract players, both old and new, to log in and experience the event and hopefully purchase a membership for all those nifty extra features. This has always worked for CP due to their ability to completely re-design many of their virtual rooms in a rich, contextually aware setting. For example, a Pirate Party is likely to contain many pirate ships and pirates.

The issues don’t lay within this business model. Instead, they lay with the context of the party, as well as the decorations, gameplay and sometimes items available. In the old days, the team would simply design most of the rooms available with small but contextually-relevant decorations. One Christmas tree at the Forest was enough to make their point and it worked well. After Disney purchased the game, parties became more advanced. The small “free item” stands were replaced by challenges and quests in order to earn the exclusive item(s). Decorated rooms were plentiful and incredibly well thought out. The artwork is something we appreciated back then, and certainly do even more so today.

Coins for Change became an instant controversy after many speculated that the grand total of coins donated had been altered in the company’s favour. A total of 26 billion coins were apparently donated; despite the charity not really being advertised as much as other parties. Add to this the fact that fewer penguins logged in when compared to 2013’s version and how we struggled to even reach the goal and it all seems a little Fluffy the Fishy.

Lack of effort from the team due to the mobile app, parties have seriously declined this year. We’ve had the old favourites such as the Halloween party, Music Jam and the Holiday party under a new name. However, none compared (with the possible exception of the Halloween Party which certainly wasn’t the worst to date) to past versions. The Music Jam failed miserably, sparking many to complain and dub it as the worst party ever – if not easily the worst of 2014. The Merry Walrus event fell flat and caused the #SaveTheClubPenguin trend on Twitter. This was the year penguins hit breaking point. Sure, 2013 wasn’t the best year either; but it certainly topped 2014.

Puffles

Penguin’s favourite pets are of course Puffles. These furry, fluffball creatures have been fan favourites since their debut in 2005 (and adoptability in 2006). Typically, one Puffle per year was the norm. Each version came in a new colour and had its’ own personality that hoped to match some of the target audience. Because of their annual release, a new Puffle was an exciting event. Those old enough to remember the first appearance of the Yellow, White and Orange Puffles in particular will know what I mean. CP never released them instantly for adoption. Instead, they would have them appear in certain places on the island at certain types – usually during a party or event. The release of a Puffle then resulted in furniture matching the new colour and real-life merchandise.

2013 introduced multiple Puffles. 2014 however, saw a huge increase in our fluffy friends. We’ve also seen the introduction of Puffle Creatures – Puffles inspired by real-life animals such as dogs, cats and mythical creatures such as the unicorn (and whilst never adoptable – the dragon). I personally was never a fan of Puffle Creatures as they seemed too odd-looking and not exactly very creative. The release of a Puffle was once a celebrated event. Now however, it seems to annoy more than it does please. With one seeming to appear ever other party as a selling-point (rare Puffles for Members – buy now!), many are sick and tired of them being released almost every month. Either they need to be released less-often, or they need to possess much more unique abilities and personalities. Either way, I can’t see the Puffle-apocolypse ending in 2015.

Quests & Tasks

“Come back tomorrow for another item!”. The phrase that haunts many. A cheap way of getting players to log in every day; CP has adopted this formula for a few years now – but none worse than in 2014. Sure, not every party possessed this horrific message, but those that did had extremely slow, repetitive, boring and easy to complete quests that would take the average player much less than a minute to complete. If you are to have players clicking on obvious, gigantic-sized snowflakes to earn an item (Frozen Party), why not just allow them to claim it instantly instead? Oh yes, to make them stay online longer and hopefully send their money Disney’s way in return for an exclusive item.

The Pirate Party had us sword-fighting other penguins in an effort to save the island from pirate crabs, and of course earn items whilst doing it. This was all players had to do throughout the entire party. Sharing the gameplay with that of the Star Wars Party, Rock Paper Scissors and Card Jitsu, this has become incredibly tiresome already. Having players do it for an entire week (the time it took to complete all the tasks) and boredom is bound to rise due to the same-old repetition. At least involve some strategy like Card Jitsu did!

Items

Items were often the main reason one would log in during a party. An item that could someday become rare was incredibly popular back in the early dates. Each party had only a few items and almost all were available for everyone. Almost all the items were also memorable. The Inflatable Duck (both Green and Yellow variants) and the Anniversary Party Hats are all incredibly memorable items. Ask me in 2009 which items were given away at which party and I could’ve written you an essay. These days however, we get a selection of uninspired items that are often re-coloured versions of those released previous years.

Non-Members are unfortunate in the respect that they get either hand or head items. This limits players in ways that it never did back in the early years. Body, feet, neck and face items seem to be a Members-only privilege at parties which is incredibly annoying. Would fewer players not purchase a Membership because everyone got a free hoodie at a party? I think not. The main point here is that the majority of items are lacking in creativity and functionality. The Hard Hat/Mining Hat series were effective for role-playing as a construction worker – complete with a special dance animation. Likewise with the Inflatable Ducks and Water Wings – players could pretend they were swimming.

Much fewer animations are added for items too. Special dances were once a very common addition to an exclusive item at a party. Now, when these do actually get released which is a rarity in itself, they’re reserved for Members. Heck, even the newer Puffles lack a unique dancing animation that was once guaranteed with a new Puffle. I’d happily take much fewer items if they were more memorable, quality in terms of creativity and design and of course possessed some special animations. Will we ever get that? I doubt it. I really doubt it.

Apps

With CP’s move to mobile well underway, we have seen a few spin-off apps released. Sled Racer was a decent Temple Run-style game complete with appealing 3D graphics and relatively fun if not repetitive gameplay. However, the app has not since received any updates to make me want to open it again. Puffle Wild, a Candy Crush-clone, is simply an attempt to release a huge amount of Puffles exclusive to Members. If you’re not a member, have fun with the incredibly repetitive and frustrating game. I’m damn sure I did(n’t).

The main CP app had its’ very own moment this year as it was finally released for (some) Android devices. Although it took about a year, it is a decent port that’s almost the same in every way to the iOS version. However, I still never actually use this app as its’ still incredibly slow and clunky, requiring plenty of 3D rendering which can cause even the faster devices to lag when in popular rooms. Sure, the graphics are nice and the 3D models and animations are great – but it needs some performance upgrades before it becomes my default way of logging on the island.

Another issue with the main app is that its’ restricting the desktop version. The features of each party must work on both devices to ensure the experience is equal on all platforms. This is the fundamental reason behind the disappointing parties this year. Something must be done about this – the app is supposed to assist the desktop version – not limit its’ features. I’d happily take the quality of other years over a half-working mobile app any day.

Merchandise

2008 was a revolutionary year for CP due to the major release in merchandise. Plush toys, figurines, Card Jitsu cards, playsets etc you name it were available worldwide and were instant successes. The first series of the plush toys – especially a Rockhopper plush – were exceptionally popular. So much so that they had sold out in the US before they reached other countries. The exclusive code in which unlocked items online was the likely reason behind this.

CP now seems to only sell Membership cards. I’ve not seen any CP-related toys in any toy store for a long time as production of these items has now ended. I’d of liked to see the introduction of some items this year. Perhaps some Puffle-themed toys to go with those released in-game. Perhaps CP doesn’t feel the demand for such items is strong enough anymore? Or maybe they cannot think of any more items for the Treasure Book?

Broken Promises

Broken promises? What now? You may remember Spike Hike mentioning the likes of CPNext and Server Jumping, as well as Project Super Secret (PSS) – all of which are to change the game in a massive way. With CPNext being initially announced in 2013 and PSS in 2014, we haven’t heard much since. The most optimistic of us may argue that 2014 was lacking in many areas due to the team’s hard work on all these new features. Whether this is true or not doesn’t change the fact that 2015 must be a better year. We need to see these features sooner rather than later otherwise the company will suffer financially.

Overall

To conclude, 2014 was a year that oozed disappointment. There were hyped-up events that many, including myself were looking forward to. The Music Jam, Future Party, Pirate Party and Merry Walrus Party all seemed exciting when initially announced – but it quickly became obvious that they all followed the same recycled pattern – easy, boring and repetitive quests, few decorated rooms, little to no storyline and forgettable items. Takeovers are still ongoing as is proven by this month’s Star Wars Rebels party. Lets just hope that there’s no Yoda Puffles lurking in a galaxy far far away.

Not all was bad however, we did have some original and slightly memorable parties such as The Penguin Cup and all those mini-parties. Some Puffles such as the Ghost and Blue Crystal weren’t exactly bad ideas, and the Sasquatch mystery is certainly something that’s still interesting today. 2015 needs to be better however, a lot better. Otherwise more and more penguins will become tired and eventually leave the game for good.

Random CP Fact #36: Despite the speculation, 2014’s Coins for Change grand total of 26 billion coins is approximately 1 billion more than 2013’s total – and an incredible 24 billion more than that of the first Coins for Change in 2007.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson