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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

Halloween Party 2015 Critical Review!

October on Club Penguin means two things – the Anniversary Party & the Halloween Party. Two of my favourite parties of the year which act as juxtapositions towards each other. One is a cheery event to celebrate the life of a game, whereas the latter is a spook fest full of all-things dead..and scary! With the Anniversary leading perfectly into this Halloween party – I had high expectations. So, let’s see how it turned out!

Content

During the second week of the Anniversary party, the MascBots began to act very…strange. This served as the basis for the Halloween Party. Whilst years past saw us encounter ghosts and werewolves, this year’s version had players face the malfunctioned MascBots. However, it turns out the reasoning for said malfunction wasn’t the island’s favourite inventor Gary, but rather the evil polar bear we’ve all come to secretly love.

Activities/Quests

This year, CP decided to combine a scavenger hunt of years past with puzzles to really challenge the player. Well, I say challenge, the scavenger hunts were incredibly easy. The way the MascBots were stopped were due to fear – something apparently even robots can feel. Each mascot revealed their greatest fear and players had to find said object to scare the MascBots into pausing for a while – just enough time to deactivate them.

The scavenger hunts were easy. So easy that the original mascots themselves would actually either give you incredibly blatant hints or actually tell you where the item should be. For example, Gary’s fear – Decaf Coffee, was obviously found in the Coffee Shop. The deactivation of the MascBots is completed by connecting green wires to yellow wires. It’s a puzzle that involves rotating blocks, thus connecting them to each other. Overall, it’s a relatively simply puzzle; though deactivating the HerBot was the most challenging as you would expect.

The usual ‘come back every day to unlock and complete this quest’ returned once more. That’s unless you were playing the app! Those with access to the app could complete the entire party’s tasks in one day. Hurray!

Items

The items for this years Halloween was a mixed bag. Members received all the ‘heads’ from the malfunctioned MascBots which was admittedly a good choice from CP and currently the closest we have to actual mascot items (bar the Herbert Disguise costume).  Non-members however, got something a little less remarkable. Each scavenger hunt item was also the reward for deactivating each MascBot. For example, the Decaf coffee spoke earlier was also the hand item reward for deactivating the Gary MascBot. Very original.

Some of these items were also an odd choice. Dot’s fear – an ugly sweater was actually a hand item. I guess it makes sense that a sweater that ugly shouldn’t be a body item (and thus a wearable sweater – imagine how many players would get offended if they actually liked it!), but it’s still a pretty odd choice. Other than the Robot Antenna, every other item for Non-Members was a hand item. Very little variety here..

..Oh, and Members could adopt the Ghost Puffles once again. These are some of my favourite Puffles, so I wish they were for everyone this year. Ah well.

Mascots

Gary of course! Whilst the other mascots had a pop-up in which they interacted with the player, they didn’t actually waddle around the island. A seemingly poor choice perhaps, but they were all present (bar Herbert & the Penguin Band) during the 10th Anniversary Party so I suppose this can be forgiven.

Decorations

Halloween on CP has always been famous for its’ decorations. Ever since 2006 changed everything by introducing a dark sky, it’s remained an iconic feature since. Whilst some years have had eclipses whilst others have had storms, this year’s seemed to combine them both. A great example of Pathetic Fallacy here, kids! (Google it!).

Whilst newly decorated rooms were few and far between, the mix of old and new was almost seamless. Herbert’s Lair was a very nice new room and served its’ purpose very well. Even old favourites returned such as the Slime Pool (in the underground pool). Overall, this was a very strong attempt by CP at providing us with an almost-island-wide-decorated party. As we have come to expect from this annual event.

Verdict

Okay I’ll admit it. I enjoyed this party. It brought a solid storyline and some much needed love for Herbert and Klutzy. Whilst I loved the twist of last year’s Halloween party, I felt that Skip the Bellhop/Ghost lacked a proper motif for his actions. This year however, this wasn’t the case as we’ve all come to expect such actions from the evil polar bear and his crab sidekick. The great visuals, satisfactory items (for Members at least) and a very solid storyline (combined with a prologue and foreshadowing from a  previous party all results in a Halloween to remember.

So now we’re in November and look forward to the next event. November was once known as the month of Ninjas, but they’ve recently made way for various EPF missions instead. This year will be no exception, as Operation Crustacean will hit the island. Little is known about the event currently, but we do know it will involve UFOs..

Random CP Fact #51: Many penguins are currently obtaining the Tinfoil Hat – a mysterious item that’s not available in any catalogue. How, you may ask? They’ve been abducted by aliens! At the times listed below, a random penguin from the respective room will be abducted. They will then be transported to a UFO ship for a few seconds before being returned to the room they were previously in. Once abducted, you will receive the Tinfoil Hat.

Note: The hour is irrelevant. The only thing that counts is the minutes past the hour.

Ski Hill: –:37

Ski Village: –:42

Beach: –:47

Dock: –:52

Town: –:57

Snow Forts: –:02

Plaza: –:07

Forest: –:12

Mine Shack: –:17

Skate Park: –:22

Cove: –:27

Until next time, Waddle on!

– 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

Descendants Party Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Okay so what’s a Descendants exactly? Oh, a Disney thing? Right okay then. With absolutely no knowledge of the film whatsoever, this one was new to me. It’s not animated, but it focuses on the offspring of infamous Disney villains. A fairly cool sounding concept that surely sounds like it’d be pretty fun on CP right? RIGHT?!

Content

Well, truth be told there isn’t a lot of it. Many have dubbed it as an overblown mini-party, which is exactly what it is. With the focus undoubtedly on October’s two major events; the 10th anniversary and the Halloween party 2015, the team can be forgiven for giving us such a small and rather insignificant party. Regardless, there are three decorated rooms and a fair few items to collect, so let’s look at what else this party brings.

Activities/Quests

Log in and pick up the items! No literally, that’s it. For a party that pretty much encourages players to be ‘bad in a good way’ (wha?), there’s no way to actually be bad. Activities are somewhat needed at this party. Maybe have players throwing tomatoes or something rotten around the school? Grafitti? Pranks? Instead, we got nothing.

Items

This was certainly the highlight of the minuscule event – ironic considering this is the area most ‘big’ parties tend to need so much more improvement on (at least from a non-member’s perspective). Everyone received a plethora of hand items whilst Members got their usual wigs and body costumes. Whilst many hand items of the past have been so small they might as well not exist, these were fairly nice. From a dog stuffie to a wand, the Descendants party surely gave us some pretty fun items to play with. For sure though, my (and many other players’) favourite item was by far the Dude (Dog) Stuffie.

Mascots

None! Moving on..

Decorations

Whilst three decorated rooms sounds lacklustre and almost insulting – especially for a sponsored party, exceptions can be made due to two major factors:

1) The team is very busy constructing the Halloween Party (2015) and what looks to be the biggest Anniversary party ever.

2) The ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ mini-event was also going on. This basically means we got two very different parties at once.

Regardless, the three decorated rooms are altered nicely. Not overly complex but not 2006-era simplistic either. The Iceberg also got a major redesign that was undoubtedly the highlight of the party – at least in terms of design (and role play opportunities).

Verdict

It’s hard to say whether I liked this party or not in all honesty. I wasn’t very passionate about the Descendants, meaning my opinion could be somewhat biased. I do imagine that the fans of the Disney Channel original film would be even more disappointed however, due to the sheer minimalistic approach compared to the much larger-scale of other sponsored parties. However, all can be forgiven when we look forward to the 10th Anniversary / Halloween Party.

So, with the 10th Anniversary kicking off in a few days time and lasting the entire month (only the Coffee Shop will be decorated when the Halloween Party starts), we certainly have something pretty amazing to look forward too in the form of the biggest Anniversary party ever – as well as a huge milestone in CP’s decade-long life. Then, after all that’s over, we have the Halloween Party 2015 to look forward too. These are always amazing events, with the richest decorations and plots ensuring October is always up there for being the best and certainly the biggest month of the year. I can’t wait!

Random CP Fact #49: The Halloween party in 2008 saw a storm destroy part of the Dojo. When the party ended, Sensei, the Dojo Courtyard, Card Jitsu and of course – Ninjas were all introduced to the game. Whilst that year’s spooky event introduced a storm (complete with animated lightning), it wasn’t the first to take place at night. That award goes to the Halloween Party 2006. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

CP: Star Wars Rebels Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Oh no, not this. Do I have to? Really? I never caught onto the Star Wars hype whatsoever. Never seen any of the films, only the Family Guy parody version(s). Sure I know a few characters, but my knowledge of the huge Lucasfilm franchise is something not even a snail attached to a rocket would envy. I’ll give reviewing it a shot anyway, so let’s begin.

Content

Obviously inspired by the Star Wars franchise (the Star Wars Rebels series in particular), the party has a lot that fans of the films/shows will appreciate. For those of us who aren’t fanatics however, it’s a bit dull. Sure, there’s plenty to see and experience, and we can appreciate the efforts CP has gone to in order to provide an entertaining party, but it only appeals to a certain amount of users. Remember how CP discontinued the Christmas Party to prevent those of different religions from being left out? Well they’re doing something very similar with introducing takeovers based on a certain genre of films. Same with the Marvel Superheroes – some love it, whilst some can’t stand it.

Nevertheless, the content is fairly decent. I admit out of all the parties thus far (literally ever), I was least excited for this one. I didn’t even log on until a week after it was released. Maybe I’m just getting old? I don’t know, but I won’t be disappointed to see this one go to a galaxy far far away – for good.

Quests

As per with all modern parties – we have a selection of quests to complete in order to earn some items. The typical click-and-find or throw-snowball-at-something activities return once again. This being said, there was some variety and it wasn’t nearly as tedious as that of the Frozen or Pirate Party. I particularly liked the fact that you had to throw snowballs at the enemy’s defences. It suggested that there was in fact a battle going on, and not just doing random tasks for the fun of it.

This being said, there’s still the same issue that has lingered for oh, so long. Due to CP’s obsession with bringing monthly parties to the mobile app, it means that the quests have to be suitable for such. Typically, mobile games began as tap-to-win (such as Angry Birds etc). Simply tapping the screen in a certain area wins the game. This is exactly the area CP is straying into, and a problem that was obviously caused by the virtual world’s move to mobile. Whilst not necessarily a bad thing (heck, look at Clash of Clans – that’s awesome), I’d prefer to see some Operation Blackout or old PSA-standard missions, which really got the mind working. Another issue I have with CP’s new format is the fact that pop-ups tell us where to go and what to do. Can’t we just be provided with clues and figure out what to do and where ourselves?

A major complaint I’ve seen throughout the recent parties – particularly regarding the quests – is how we cannot fail them. For example, we couldn’t lose against the Pirate Crabs (not to the extent they defeated us and took over the island) and we cannot lose against the Stormtroopers. I know they have bad aim, but wow. It takes the excitement from the game away. Imagine Skyrim without the ability to die? Nevertheless, it’s a children’s game. Still, losing should be an option.

Items

Sigh. Awful, simply awful. Members get a decent selection of somewhat inspiring items, but non-members get ridiculously small gadget-themed hand items that make the Friendship Bracelet appear groundbreaking. I was hugely disappointed with these items. So much so that I wasn’t even bothered about getting them. I only did so due to the fact I collect every non-member item/background/pin that is released. A fundamental item of the franchise is that of a Light Saber – something only Members could collect. If we are forced to endure countless hand items, surely a Saber would’ve been a better choice than those we got.

At last years’ event the items were ultimately better. Stormtrooper helmets for everyone? Yes please. Even myself, who is not particularly a fan of Star Wars, appreciates it. Much more so than random hand-items I doubt I, or many other penguins would wear by choice. Seriously, who designs these? The flag-thing was probably my favourite item from this party (for everyone), though we all know it’s a redesigned version of the Pirate Flag released during November’s Pirate Party.

Decorations

Fairly decent attempt from CP. There’s a lot of visuals from the series that have made their way into the party as one would expect. As usual, only the bottom half of the island is decorated. Regardless, it’s a decent effort from CP and I especially liked how the Space room returned, though nothing actually happened there. There was also no Death Star which is a little disappointing – even if it doesn’t appear in the show, CP still could’ve incorporated it for a little extra content.

I especially liked how the Coffee Shop had become ‘Javva the Hut’ (a pun on the slug-like alien character Javva the Hutt). The party lacks due to the sheer absence of interior decorated rooms. Sadly, this has been a feature for many parties over the past year and I cannot see it making its’ exit anytime soon, except for particular parties (such as the Anniversary and Halloween). We can only hope!

Mascot(s)

None. Moving on..

No seriously though, everybody wanted Darth Herbert. Even if Vader isn’t in the animated series, CP still should’ve included the fan favourite.

Vs. The original Star Wars Takeover

I don’t normally compare, but in this case a brief comparison seems relevant. I much preferred the original, probably because I understand the story a little more. Darth Herbert was awesome, as was the Death Star – even the cutscenes and the iconic “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away..” words in space. The party has included more CP-originality which is always a huge factor of a successful CP event. Overall, this party seems like the original takeover’s little brother. It had it’s good parts that fans will enjoy, but it didn’t compare to the original in terms of originality, mascots, items, decorations etc etc.

Verdict

Overall, the party is again something that Star Wars fans will probably enjoy. There’s a decent amount of content to get through and some interesting visuals. But for those of us who aren’t fans of the show and/or films, it was probably something we don’t want to experience for 10 minutes; nevermind 2 weeks. I realise this review is shorter than usual. The reason behind it is simply due to the fact I didn’t log in much at all during the entire event. It never interested me, it still doesn’t interest me. Give me the original any day!

Random CP Fact #38: February will host a brand new party – the SoundStudio Party. It will be a collaboration between the Music Jam and Hollywood parties and will support the release of the SoundStudio app available soon.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– 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

Merry Walrus Party – Critical Review!

Happy New Year Penguins!

2015 is officially here, and what better way to celebrate the change of a single digit than criticising CP’s efforts once more. The full 2014 review will be posted shortly, as for now though the focus is on December – the festive season that would once mean a Holiday Party would embrace the island with its’ festive mittens. 2014 however, brought something new to the board. This time, we instead had a Merry Walrus Party – an original attempt to create a multicultural holiday with unique traditions. But was this just a Christmas party with a gimmicky name, or a grand event that will excite for years to come? Let’s find out!

Plot

Focused upon the original character of Merry Walrus – a walrus whom is so heavily based on Santa Claus that even the “Ho Ho Ho!” catchphrase remains unchanged, the party hopes to celebrate a variety of traditions in order to avoid isolating any players of different religions and beliefs. Aunt Arctic (surprisingly!) discovered a book in which told the festive beasts’ tale and decided to make other penguins aware of his existence. Thus, Merry Walrus eventually comes to the island, bringing Coins for Change with him in hope to spread some festive joy around the island.

It’s by no means a complex plot, nor does it really explain where he’s been all these years. There was also no indication of why penguins chose to celebrate this event instead of Christmas/other holidays. 2014 has seemed completely distant from other years as each party, even if it shares the same name, seemed completely different to previous versions. See Music Jam for more details.

I’d love to see Herbert introduce himself like in the animated special. He didn’t feature at all which was annoying. Him and Merry Walrus could’ve had an epic face-off! Or, perhaps Herbert could’ve captured Merry Walrus and instead posed as him in order to ruin the holiday. Instead, he simply sits forgotten in his lair – wherever that may be.

Regardless, the plot was fairly weak. Did it need a complex plot? Not really, but it would’ve been nice to hear more of the origin of Merry Walrus and why he’s basically Santa in disguise. How did he obtain these magical powers? How did he find the Blue Crystal Puffles? There’s many gaps in the plot which is a little disappointing – but to be expected with the team’s recent efforts.

Quests 

Like with most modern events, the Merry Walrus Party featured a series of daily quests. Unlike those of the Halloween party which were unarguably more challenging that those of the Frozen Party – the quests were straightforward and didn’t really require much skill or thought. Sure, some were quite fun to figure out – but the fun lasted a matter of seconds rather than minutes. For each quest completed, 500 coins would be donated to Coins for Change in the player’s name. It seems a little cheap to do it this way as penguin’s are not donating by choice. Instead, they are simply trying to obtain the items and the exclusive Puffle.

One area in which the quests did shine was variety. Sure, it wasn’t PSA-standard variety but it wasn’t complete repitition like the Frozen & Pirate parties. Let’s just hope CP spends more time focusing on the quests this year – otherwise even the younger players will begin to notice that boredom replaces excitement when experiencing new parties.

Decorations

The Christmas/Holiday parties have always been nicely decorated. Whether it be the simple decorations of the original in 2005 or the sophistication of more recent versions, these parties have always had top-notch artwork. Even the PSA HQ and EPF Command Room were decorated for such parties – something in which didn’t occur at any other point within the year. This defines how significant the holiday-themed parties are and always have been.

With a new name comes new decorations – you’d be forgiven for thinking this. Though we did get plenty of new artwork – including the original Merry Walrus float – some rooms were simply recycled from previous versions (namely the Town). Fewer rooms were decorated, but this was to be expected. There was no decorated Ski Lodge, Dojo Courtyard or even Iceberg. What perhaps surprised everyone though was the absence of an evening sky. Instead, the same-old everyday sky was used. Though it doesn’t sound like a party destroying factor, it certainly removed the atmospheric elements that a change in sky has upon the island. Think of how the past Holiday parties, this years Music Jam and every Halloween since 2007 does this successfully (yes, the Music Jam did something successfully!).

Even the Forest, one of the better rooms thanks to its’ huge tree, didn’t compare to that of the Forest in 2009 in which featured a much bigger tree. There was no room in which I thought beat any previous attempt. This is especially disappointing considering that each version of a party – particularly a major annual event – should be an evolution of – not a reduction of – the previous version. It’s like Apple removing the Retina display from the next iDevice. It’s ridiculous.

Originality

Here’s a new category for y’all. Since this party is nor a takeover nor a usual Holiday party, I thought it’d be a good idea to discuss how the Merry Walrus party, a party in which hoped to be original by creating a new look on the festive season, tackled such a challenge. I always found that the Holiday parties were particularly guilty of not including enough religious variety. It seemed to simply be a Christmas party under another name. Heck, even the 2006 Christmas party had a reference to Hannukah, a Jewish holiday. CP simply renamed the party in an attempt to seem more multicultural, but the actual content was still completely Christmas-based.

The Merry Walrus party had a unique opportunity to incorporate new and unique traditions in which penguins would celebrate. It didn’t have to relate to any religion at all, but instead we once again got a Christmas party under a new name. Merry Walrus himself was basically Santa Claus – there’s no denying it. They even gave him a sleigh and reindeer in the form of Blue Crystal Puffles. In the mascot department, CP had just created a blatant Santa Claus clone whom lacks any creativity or originality. He even delivers presents in the same method.

Sure, some traditions were unique, such as throwing food around. Decorating a tree with ornaments however, is not an original idea. To say this was meant to be a new party doesn’t collaborate with the content. If a room can be recycled for a new, supposedly unrelated party, how can it be considered new? Ultimately, the Merry Walrus party was a Christmas party with very limited creativity.

Items

Items lately have seemed to also lack creativity. They all seem to be based on fashion in reality, as opposed to the zany, fun items of the past. Sure, we get numerous Puffle Costumes, but these are simply re-coloured versions of older items. And wow, do we get a lot of those nowadays. This month’s festive fashion was inspired by Merry Walrus’ own wardrobe, with all items released at the party featuring the colours blue and white. All the non-members out there got a nice treat in the form of an all-head item lineup, something that plagued the 2011-2013 years.

Puffles

Yep, another party in which featured a limited-edition rare Puffle. Obviously a Members exclusive, the Blue Crystal Puffle was one of the better ones released this year. It wasn’t a creepy Puffle Creature, but it did seem like a Blue and White Puffle’s offspring. It inherited the colour blue, with the strong ice powers of the White Puffle. Regardless, I’d say its’ my second favourite of the year – with the first being the Ghost Puffle. One area I was less happy with was how powerful and mystic this Puffles are supposed to be – yet Merry Walrus is happy giving random penguins several of them. He sure trusts us penguins!

I don’t see the Puffle epidemic slowing anytime soon. I doubt any will feature in the Star Wars takeover, but I could be wrong. With updates to Puffle Wild and possibly yet another Puffle Party this year, we can expect to see a plethora of new ones. We do know one thing about each one however – they will all be for Members.

Coins for Change

What started as an amazing charity-event that inspired players and the rest of the world alike, has since declined in popularity so much so that the goal almost wasn’t reached this time around. Old staff members such as Rsnail actually logged in to encourage users to donate – that’s how few people were actually donating by choice. Add to this the fact that each completed quest donated 500 coins to the charity, combined with how each Penguin Styles catalogue purchase went towards the total – and the event should’ve been the biggest success to date.

Instead, we struggled to make the target. Disappointing by any standards, CP noticed this before releasing the party and thus attempted to incorporate cheap and easy methods to reach each milestone. Even with this, it wasn’t enough. Sure, the goal was eventually reached – but it has never taken that long. Especially considering the 2 weeks-duration. This effectively shows how CP is declining in terms of players and indeed quality.

Verdict

Overall, the Merry Walrus party did disappoint. It lacked the decorations of the previous versions, and the influence Christmas had upon the party completely destroyed its’ attempt at being original. It wasn’t the worst party this year (we all know what party gets that award), but I’d of much preferred Rockhopper and his usual traditions instead. Sure, it was definitely time for a change, but I doubt anyone would agree that Merry Walrus was the change everyone wanted. I hope (and expect) next years to be much much bigger, and to show how the residents of Club Penguin would really celebrate the holiday season – as opposed to a poor attempt at a Christmas-clone. To conclude, a Christmas party by any other name isn’t necessarily as sweet. All in all, a disappointing end to a very disappointing year.

Random CP Fact #35: There are currently only two known walruses on Club Penguin. These are Merry Walrus and Tusk, Sensei’s childhood best friend. Interestingly, both seem to be polar opposites (no pun intended). 

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

#SaveTheClubPenguin

Greetings Penguins!

I’m sure a few of you are confused with today’s title. Save Club Penguin? From what? Those without access to Twitter are probably going to be the baffled readers here. This post will address what this hashtag means, its’ origin and the significance this popular trend has on our beloved island. Although I don’t usually write posts regarding the trends of Twitter and hot topics around the CP community, I figured this was too popular to ignore.

Where did #SaveTheClubPenguin come from?

For those not familiar with hashtags (#), they are a popular search method on the hugely popular social network website, Twitter. Users often hashtag certain titles, words or phrases to accompany a sentence. Common examples include films or political protests (#IronMan, #ClubPenguin, #ChristmasTree etc). Once enough people use the same hashtag comment, it begins to trend. Once it starts to trend, it becomes noticed around the world. This basic introduction to hashtags will seem obvious for those already in the know, but this knowledge is needed to understand the rest of this post.

Now for the #SaveTheClubPenguin trend itself. It began yesterday (18th December 2014) which is the same day as the Merry Walrus Party began. This is no coincidence, as the party itself is the main reason for the creation of this trend. Club Penguin players were already sceptical of the Merry Walrus party, as it seemed to try and replace the much loved Holiday Party. Upon the party’s release, it became obvious that it was extremely lacking in content. The rooms decorated were actually less than that of the Christmas Party 2006. It has since earned the title of the second smallest Christmas-inspired event ever – beaten only by the first in 2005.

A below-average party isn’t exactly what made CP player’s around the world express their fury on social networks and personal blogs though. 2014 as a whole has had a plethora of mediocre parties at best, most were poorly decorated and didn’t contain much excitement that wanted players to log in each day to earn even more mediocre items – and a Puffle or two for Members. Each party has seemed like a repeat of the last, with a slightly different context. The anticipation that came with the Merry Walrus Party quickly reflected the entire of 2014 upon its’ release. If I was to sum 2014 up into one word, it would be disappointment – and I’m positive many would agree.

What does #SaveTheClubPenguin mean?

So we know where and why it began, but what does it exactly mean? Personally, I would’ve preferred #SaveClubPenguin instead of #SaveTheClubPenguin. The Club Penguin? Why The? Anyways, many believe that CP has reached a point where it needs saving. Not literally Marvel-style saving, but it needs something to bring back what once made the game so unique. The Merry Walrus party is a fine example of everything that’s wrong with the game. The idea of being purchased by a bigger company (Disney), meant that the game could develop and grow. This was true throughout the 2008-2010 period in particular. The release of toys, DS games and so on was something that Disney had helped create. The parties were also more advanced, more rooms were decorated in such a bigger way than they ever had been before. Puffles were limited to 1 new colour per year. It felt like the original game – only so much bigger.

Nowadays however, we seem to be stuck in limbo. The game is nowhere as big as it once was – probably due to mass introduction of mobile applications (that are often free), social networks (which CP can’t compare against with their overly-strict filters) and how fewer children want to play on virtual worlds anymore. It’s almost been 10 years since CP released – the concept behind virtual worlds has become tired to some – causing fewer players to log in everyday.

Instead of making the game new and exciting with bigger updates than ever, the parties are becoming smaller than ever. The idea behind these events is to make players log in every month by bringing them exciting new content. Why should players even bother if the parties are smaller than they were 8 years ago? Some may argue that the rooms back then weren’t nearly as well-decorated as they are now, whereas others state that the rooms which are decorated today are often too overcrowded and just appear as a cluttered mess. Sometimes, less is more. Think minimalism!

Basically, the user’s who started and are currently using this hashtag trend want more from the CP Team. 2014 has undoubtedly been the weakest year in the games history. Sure, we’ve seen some apps released – but this doesn’t compensate for a year of sub-par parties that raise questions about CP’s funding and management skills. For the past few years we’ve heard about things such as Project Super Secret and the legendary Server Jumping – but when will it finally be released? It took the app team almost a year to give us the main Club Penguin app on Android and even then only several devices are supported. Children are the game’s target audience – yet CP seems to ignore that children typically have very short attention spans and even shorter patience. Maybe the main focus is on Project Super Secret and thus explains why parties have been smaller? Who knows – but one thing I know is that if this project isn’t released in 2015 (which would be a fitting time for CP’s 10th anniversary) – the game’s future could be in serious trouble.

What can we do?

The popularity of said trend grew incredibly fast. Bloggers took to their blogs to express their opinions, whilst others relied fully on Twitter to express their issues with the game. Within a few hours most of the Twitter community had jumped onto the bandwagon. Several even began tweeting old and current staff members (such as rsnail, Screenhog, Spike Hike etc) directly. The idea behind the hashtag is to ultimately make the team aware of the situation. Once aware, they can do something about it. It’s more than likely that staff members already know about this trend since the community has done such a good job promoting it, but whether they will react remains unknown at this point.

All we, as players, can do is hope. Hope that 2015 will bring something new to the table that will keep the game new and exciting. Next year marks the 10th year of Club Penguin, so I believe this will be a fitting time to introduce something that will do exactly that. I still have faith in the team, despite this year of mediocracy and disappointment. If nothing changes then the every-falling traffic of the website will continue to decrease due to angry players becoming bored and frustrated with what remains one of the biggest virtual worlds – in the world.

What do you think of all this?

Personally, I agree that the quality of the game has declined significantly this year. 2013 was far from perfect itself, but the severe lack of decorated rooms is what currently haunts the game (and the introduction of far too many Puffles). The main app was a step in the right direction, but the lack of performance updates (or the use of Apple’s new Metal API) has meant that its’ slow, clunky and often unresponsive. Not a great experience. Puffle Wild is a in-app-purchase hungry Candy Crush copy, that is extremely repetitive and again features too many Puffles.

I’ve played the Club Penguin since May 2007 and attended every party/event which followed. It seems as if the decrease in quality really began to shine after the original creators left. Perhaps because CP started as a hobby, and has since turned into a cash cow for Disney and the drawback of partnering with a giant company means that CP will constantly be pressured into raising the funds to maintain the cash cow status. But how long will Disney’s funding last? Hopefully long enough to see CP revive itself and claim its’ rightful place as the #1 Virtual World.

Note: To read any further updates about this, including updates whenever a new post is posted here or to simply ask me a question, please follow me at @JimbobsonCP on Twitter. Remember, you must be 13 years or over to sign up.

Random CP Fact #33: Entering the code PRINCESS will unlock the Tiara item. It was once very rare, being released in the October 2005/February 2007 Penguin Style catalogues followed by the Treasure Book and then Puffle Digging.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Halloween Party 2014 Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

Plot

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

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

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

Puzzles/Quests

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

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

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

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

Decorations

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

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

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

Items

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

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

Verdict

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson