Blog Archives

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: Dividing From The Very Start

Greetings Penguins!

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

https://www.clubpenguin-island.com

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

Not just mobile only, but USA/Canada only!

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

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

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

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

But wait! It gets even better..

An Apple A Day Keeps Android Away

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

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

The First Rule Of Beta Club Is..

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

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

Spike Hike: The end of an era!

Greetings Penguins!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jimbobson

1,050 Words of Utter Nonsense.

Prologue

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy, Controversy, Controversy.

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

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

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

RIP Club Penguin. Wait. What?!

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

Do I Stay Or Do I Go?

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

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

 

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

Prehistoric Party 2016: Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

Content

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

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

As for that, pretty much everything was the same.

Activities/Quests

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

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

Items

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

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

Decorations

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

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

Mascots

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

Verdict

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

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

(Late) Puffle Party 2015 Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently; coursework reached it’s peak which gave me little time to do much else. Anyways, this post will focus on last month’s Puffle Party – a highly anticipated event in which combined everyone’s favourite yet overused fluffy creatures with the mystery of the Sasquatch. Let’s begin!

Content

Despite it’s name, the Puffle Party 2015 wasn’t fully focused around Puffles. Sure, they were the core element of the party – but not the only element. This time, the transformation of the Ski Lodge to the Puffle Lodge was a key to the party’s plot. The party ultimately focused around the mystery of the wilds and more specifically, what or rather who had stolen the giant fish celebration cake. Of course, the Sasquatch turned out to be the culprit. With a short but sweet backstory, we learned that the Sasquatch actually lives with Puffles within the wilderness. However, much was lacking in terms of his origin.

How did he get the oversized Beta Hat? Apparently a penguin wearing a green jacket gave it to him long ago. I suspect this mystery penguin was Billybob – a penguin famous for his Green Letterman Jacket. Where has he been all this time? The wilderness of course! It’s a little fishy but it’s better than nothing I guess. With that being said, who lives in that mountain cave that can be seen from Ski Hill? Hmm..

Activities/Quests

This party had a pretty unique quest – explore and collect things. Sure, it was simple and took only a few minutes – but it was new! No snowflakes, no snowballs, just simple exploration. Hunt for berries to attract rare Puffle Creatures and then retrieve a Fishing Rod from the Puffle Lodge to fish and catch Sasquatch a meal, fun times indeed. A little more depth and complexity and this would’ve been an awesome quest indeed. Still, one cannot complain when comparing to the previous tasks we’ve been asked to endure for a uninspired item.

Items

Everyone loves items. They complete us. This party gave us a fair selection; mostly Puffle inspired (obviously). Whilst Members enjoyed a plethora of hoodies and a Puffle Guide uniform, Non-Members were graced with a selection of Hats. The only issue here was that 4/5 of these were the same baseball caps simply re-designed for each new Puffle Creature – of which only Members could adopt. I’m sure many were satisfied, but it all seemed underwhelming in my opinion. I hope the days of body items, whacky costumes and leis return. And preferably soon.

Decorations

Unlike many, many parties of late; the Puffle Party 2015 had a very nice selection of decorated rooms. The only issue being that all were recycled from the previous year – bar the Puffle Lodge and new Wild rooms. This isn’t a major issue however, I’d certainly prefer recycled rooms to no decorated rooms at all. A step in the right direction!

Mascots

PH of course! Plus a new background!! Not only this, but Sasquatch officially became recognised as a mascot! What a time to be alive.

Verdict

Whilst not even coming close to the ‘best party ever award in Jim’s opinion’, I don’t think anybody expected it to. CP showed us that they can still come up with interactive parties that engage and reward the players; whilst not completely ruining them via too many sneak peeks weeks before the party. Sure, it was lacking in several areas but when compared to recent parties, it certainly stands out as one of the better efforts. I enjoyed this party. Not as much as Operation Blackout or the Card Jitsu Snow event, but enjoyed it nevertheless. In fact, the slight disappointment only began to settle in once I realised 90% of the rooms were recycled. I imagine new players would’ve enjoyed it a lot – and who can blame them!

As the Frozen Fever Party is currently ongoing, expect a critical review of that next week sometime. But for now, we look forward to May, which promises to contain 2 different parties; one exclusive to the app (Rainbow Puffle celebration) and one exclusive to desktop (The Fair). Let’s hope both hold their own as contender’s for best party of 2015 thus far!

Random CP Fact #42: Due to the lack of Membership sales and the games’ recent ‘poor performance’ financially, many CP employees were recently laid off. This also included the complete closure of the CP office in Brighton, England.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

What is wrong with Club Penguin?

Greetings Penguins!

Lately, many players including myself have been expressing our concerns and worries regarding the current state of the game. Whether raging over unfixed bugs or complaining about less-than-satisfactory parties, it is agreed amongst most players (veterans in particular) that the overall quality of the game has gone downhill; particularly over the last couple of years. But why is this? In this post I’ll express some of my own complaints, as if they weren’t already obvious within the monthly critical reviews.

Technology Limbo

Club Penguin is currently in what seems to be a state of confusion. Firstly there’s the desktop version of the site in which is the main focus; including all rooms and features the game has to offer. The mobile app however is still lacking in certain areas. This means that parties and quests must be suitable for both platforms – something in which is not only a difficult process, but also a time-consuming one. The team have to make two versions of pretty much everything, simply to enable both platforms to work in unison. Or rather, as close to as possible.

The solution to this of course appears to be CP Next. Or at least that’s what we think. We don’t hear much about it anymore; something of which has many pondering when we will see a release date for this new tech. Even if it’s not quite ready yet (which I’m sure it’s nowhere near), some updates by Spike Hike or other members of the team are required. Until then, expect small-scale parties with the same-old type of quests.

Bugs & Private Servers

I’m not going to focus on this section to much as its’ fairly self-explanatory.

Every game has bugs – especially with a game as big as CP. The only issue is many aren’t resolved, despite how many emails are received highlighting them. This quests whether our feedback is answered at all – but more on that later.

Private servers are, as the name suggests, servers in which are uploaded online by fans in which try to create a custom version of our beloved game – often including free membership and other perks. Using old CP .swf files, some code and a database to create such things is of course against CP’s rules.

Whilst private servers have been online for a fair few years now, they have rose in popularity recently because they ironically offer more than the game does in its’ current state. Those who want free membership, less-strict chat filters and to experience ‘Old CP’ will likely try these unofficial versions of the island and quickly make friends (due to the chat filter – again more on that later). Some private servers even allow swearing and other adult language; attracting the more mature audience.

I’ll admit I’ve tried a few during my time – but who hasn’t? Being curious of all-things Club Penguin leads one to want to experiment with other adaptations. Would I ever create one though? No, I’d prefer to create my own virtual world. Ultimately, these private servers need to either be taken down faster by Disney or else players will begin to look for something new – and what better than to play a game you already know better than your Great Aunt (but with a twist of course). Weird example, but you get the idea.

The “Did that show?” Problem

Likely the most asked question on the island ever. Where’s the new pin? Where did you find that? Wanna be friends? All popular phrases. But amongst those actually wanting to have a non-safe-chat conversation, this is a very very common question. Simply put, the chat filter is extremely strict. Of course, it has to be. During the 2005-2008 era, players found creative ways to talk inappropriate or even share their personal phone number (2005-2007 only, when numbers were allowed). This meant that more strict filters had to be put in place.

The negative side? Nothing shows. Well, not nothing – but very few things. Even common terms can find themselves unable to bypass the filter. It’s like one of those antiviruses in which blocks everything you download. Only you can’t turn it off..

For a game in which was built to enable a safe chatting environment for kids, it works well. But also not so well, as the kids cannot chat properly. It’s a broken feature in which has haunted the island for several years. Sure, the chat prediction and safe chat can be seen as a way through this, but it is extremely limiting to the social experience of the game.

What do I think should be done? Well, I’d firstly like a ‘chat filter strictness’ feature in which parents (and older players) can control to suit their needs. Standard chat and Safe chat is the same principle, only simplified. Strict would be as currently is, whilst Not-so-strict could be more like 2007. There could even be an anything-goes option, in which allows pretty much anything (except the obvious like swearing, sexual and drug related words/sentences). Sure, the island would be fairly fragmented, but each player could have an indicator on the player card showing which strictness they chose – to avoid this annoying question being asked so much.

But how do we remove this question ENTIRELY?! Simple-ish! (Simple to explain, maybe not so simple for the team). The Moderators can see what every player says – even what doesn’t bypass the filter (they see it as a faded out bubble). CP could implement something similar for players. Once something is typed and sent, said text bubble could be faded – or even include an icon like a ‘!’ indicating that said message did not bypass the filter. Simple, but effective.

Small-Scale Parties & Giant Pins

It’s no surprise that the recent subpar parties and the growth of the fortnightly hidden pins makes this list. Parties are what encourages the player to continuously log in every month, and has been the same since 2005. We know why the parties are getting smaller, as the team has too much work to do in other areas. The game has far too many features and far too many of said features are being ignored. Stamps, old room designs still existing, the EPF, mascots? All of which contribute to an uneven game in which is becoming more fragmented month by month.

The worst part is, CP has openly criticised the amount of rooms in the game. Due to the plethora of rooms, penguins are spread out over the island, rather than in a community. This not only hurts the social aspect of the game, but also the discovery of pins and items – thus why most parties take place over a few rooms, particularly the most popular ones. The only issue is, CP keeps adding MORE rooms. What?!

As for pins, they’re getting huge. Nobody wants them so huge. But they’re still huge. That’s pretty much it, and brings me to my next point.

Finance over Feedback

One thing Rsnail stated was a pivotal thought when creating the game was that feedback was necessary – designing without feedback is “dangerous” as he quotes. This is true, though was more so when he was creating said game. Still, CP prides itself by claiming that feedback is always received and listened to, i.e “passed onto the team”. For example, the Frozen Party was requested by many. Same with the Teen Beach Movie, everyone wanted that to happen, right? Wrong.

The thing is, if an idea has any financial potential – they will consider it. When a few players want a particular takeover, Spike Hike or Polo Field will openly say that “if that’s what the community wants, we’ll do it!”. Yet when mentions of a more traditional approach to the next party – such as a history event for example, neither CP iconic staff members are anywhere to be seen. Spike says that nostalgic ideas aren’t the way to go – but why not? If that’s what players want – surely they should at least consider it?

We ask for less Puffles – they give us more.

We ask for smaller pins – they get bigger.

We ask for island-wide parties – they get smaller.

We ask for parties that include a plot, and more focus on the EPF – Get neither.

Many, many veteran players want a tribute to old CP – get nothing (I don’t count the new ‘Mystery Attic’ as a tribute).

Players ask for no more takeovers – several per year.

Some players ask for a Frozen party – sure!

See a trend here? I realise CP is a business and needs money. But ignoring feedback is going to damage the game more so than a loss in profit. However, this is of course Disney we’re talking about.

What can be done?

Whilst I’m not the CEO of CP and highly doubt I ever will be; I have my own ideas and opinions. Whilst I do try to make my posts fairly objective at times – they’re still mostly subjective. Here’s the key areas I want to see fixed, not necessarily in order:

New Technology – CP Next is needed ASAP. It should also bring the desktop site and mobile app together as one, finally.

Better Chat System – Everyone agrees!

Feedback being listened to – Evidence of this would be fantastic.

Bigger Parties – Even if they happened every few months, with mini-parties filling the respective gaps.

Difficulty – Quests, Pins etc should be a little harder. Even the youngest of players can throw snowballs or click on a giant pin. It’s not difficult and takes away the “can you help me?” aspect of the game. It’s a game based around helping each other and being a community. 

So how is all this achieved? I’d personally like to see CP take a few months break. Forget major parties and Puffles and all that. Throw small-scale events whilst a second Club Penguin Improvement Project (CPIP) takes place. Maybe it takes place on the actual site or even a separate one like the original CPIP did. The team needs time to fix the game, and the “party monster” needs too much feeding according to Spike.

A plot could even be incorporated. Maybe a giant blizzard covers the island and we are forced to ‘rebuild’ from the ground up – much like the team would be behind the scenes. Okay, I’m getting carried away a bit here. Regardless, I hope the team does what needs to be done – and sooner rather than later. Here’s to the rest of 2015!

Random CP Fact #41: The Club Penguin Improvement Project (CPIP) was simply the testing of several features on a separate site to the original CP, before said features were fit for official release. It occurred in 2008 and hasn’t occurred since.

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

9th Anniversary Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

Backstory

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

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

Spoilers..

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

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

Decorated Rooms

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

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

Duration

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

Other Stuff

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

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

Verdict

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson