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‘Operation: Tri-Umph’ Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

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

Content

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

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

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

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

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

Activities

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

Items

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

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

Decorations

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

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

Mascots

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

Verdict

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson.

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Club Penguin in 2015: Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

As 2016 is well underway (already on January 3rd?!), it’s once again time to look at the previous calendar year and what it had in store for our beloved virtual world. As with other years, we were treated to a plethora of parties (including mini-parties), some new Puffles and plenty of items and pins. But how did 2015 stack up to 2014? Known to many as one of the most disappointing years in CP’s history thus far; CP risked losing players if they didn’t step up their game. Let’s see if they did..

Content

I say the same thing pretty much every year in these reviews. (Almost) 12 parties, lots of items and pins and the ongoing promise of the highly anticipated Project Super Secret / CPNext. This year was slightly different however, as this was CP’s 10th year online. Surely they had planned something pretty amazing? Well, kind of. Not quite Project Super Secret but something that will certainly be one of the more memorable parties throughout the history of the game. More on this later!

Parties

I’ve already done a critical review on every party of this year therefore this section will be a quick synopsis of each party and my own personal opinions on them.

January – Star Wars Rebels Takeover: As those who have read my previous reviews on any related Star Wars content, I’ve never actually watched any of the films or cartoon series (bar the Family Guy parodies of course). The original Star Wars takeover was much much better, so much so that I barely logged in for this event. Very simplistic tasks, poor items and only a handful of decorated rooms ensured this was a party to forget.

February – SoundStudio Party: A party to advertise the new SoundStudio app. A mixture of the Hollywood and Music Jam sounded great on paper but didn’t seem to work very well in-game. Again, very simplistic tasks and pretty average items. Oh, and the decorations were incredibly lacking and too heavily focused on neon lights.

March – Pi Day: A mini-party at the Mine Shack; complete all the simplistic decorations that would’ve suited the 2007 days. Rookie and Gary’s backgrounds were the only free items, however, thus making the lack of an actual item the only downside for this maths-themed event.

March – Puffle Party: The seventh Puffle Party really needed something to stand out. It actually featured a plot and introduced the Sasquatch officially. Plenty of head items to ‘enjoy’, all inspired by the Puffle Creatures found in the Puffle Wild. Ultimately, it felt a strange party that was a little to farfetched for my taste – and that’s coming from a game in which has talking penguins and an evil crab.

April – Cave Maze: Another mini-party in which took place underneath the Dock. A pretty fun event featuring some satisfying maze themed rooms, complete with a free item for finishing said maze It even featured a secret room with an animated dance floor. Awesome!

April – Frozen Fever: Lots of free pins, very very simplistic tasks and re-used rooms from the previous Frozen takeover. This party was surely one to let go (pun intended).

May – The Fair: Basically the 2014 version with a few fixed flaws. Plenty of games, prizes and neon lights. Whilst it was certainly an interesting concept, I still prefer the classic Fairs.

May – Rainbow Puffle Party: The first ever app-exclusive party. It allowed everyone to complete the quest and adopt their very own Rainbow Puffle. It even came with some nice rainbow-themed items and decorations.

June – Royalty Week: Not even a party really. Basically, those who logged into the app got a few free royalty-themed items. Pretty self explanatory!

June – Festival of Snow: One of my favourite parties of the year. Very similar to that which occurred in 2007, only with new snow sculptures. Even the Snowflake Shirt and Ice Crown returned. A great idea from the team to fill this otherwise empty month (whilst CP worked on other things).

July – Inside Out Party: A pretty decent party in which had player’s going inside Rockhopper’s mind in an attempt to recover his lost memories. It featured Rockhopper-inspired characters from the film and even a basic, if not bizarre plot. Decorations were extremely lacking, however.

August – Fashion Festival: A primarily female-oriented party that actually had some user interaction. Not too many decorated rooms, though those that were looked appealing. No items however, though this was a party focusing on how player’s could use items, as opposed to getting new ones.

September – Descendants Party: A plethora of hand items (for non-members) and only three decorated rooms. This felt more like a mini-party, and a pretty poor one at that. The Iceberg was nice, though.

September – Talk like a Pirate day: Ironically my favourite event of September. A fun mini-party at the Beach which was nicely decorated and even featured the return of the rare Red Bandana. Feeling more like an original 2007 party as opposed to a 2015 mini event, it was my personal favourite mini-party of the year.

October – 10th Anniversary Party: The grand event of the year. Most rooms were decorated exactly as they were during a certain party of the past. A blend of many different parties such as Christmas, Halloween, Music Jam and even April Fools featured within this historic event; complete with several different items (one from each party). No member-only features meaning everyone was included. My absolute favourite event of the year and one of the best parties within CP’s history!

October – Halloween: I always love Halloween parties and this was no exception. Excellent decorations, a simplistic scavenger hunt, a solid plot featuring the malfunctioned MascBots of the 10th Anniversary and even Herbert – this was one Halloween I’ll always remember.

November – Moustache Madness: A small-scale mini-party located at the Forest. Very very simplistic decorations with five different moustaches to collect. A nice addition to a pretty busy month.

November – Extreme Paint Festival: Basically a coverup for the main event of the month. No items, only decorations. Located at the Dock, plenty of paint all over the place and even some user interactivity ensured this was a great way to foreshadow November’s flagship party.

November – Operation: Crustacean: The next instalment within the Operation-themed parties. Unfortunately, a sub-par plot with only a few decorated rooms ensured this couldn’t compare whatsoever to Operation: Blackout; or even Operation: Puffle/Hot Sauce. The Area 501 and UFO worked pretty well however and the release of several coloured Alien Puffles was an admittedly nice touch.

December – Holiday Party: A return to a more classic CP christmas featured lots of items, decorated rooms and there wasn’t a Merry Walrus in sight. The lack of activities however was a disappointment and many of the items available were either returned or re-coloured versions of older items.

Ultimately, the parties this year were satisfactory. With October standing out in particular, 2015 certainly saw an improvement over 2014. Mini-parties were also successful and I hope we get to see more of them this year.

Pins

Whilst I don’t usually have a section dedicated solely to pins, I found 2015 to be the year pins became an enjoyable element of the game again. Previously, pins were far too large and hidden in places in which made them stand out like a sore, well, pin!

During the second half of the year however, pins became a lot smaller (though not quite as small as those of 2006-2007) and were hidden with more care; thus revitalising this ageing concept. I had given up finding the pins during their overly large and obviously ‘hidden’ stage and simply resorted to external sources showing where it was. Now however, I’m back to hunting down the fortnightly collectables manually. Long may small pins continue!

Merchandise

Outside of the occasional App update/release, CP still refuses to release any physical merchandise in which fans of the game can purchase from stores. Plush penguins, Puffles and penguin action figures were immensely popular during their introduction back in October 2008. It seems a shame that not even a plush Puffle can be purchased anymore by any means other than third-party selling sites (eBay, Amazon etc).

I remember the Treasure Books and coin codes creating a storm of excitement when first released. It seems a shame that this has faded into literally nothing over the years.

Verdict

2015 wasn’t the best year in CP’s history though nor was it the worst. It’s clear that the team’s focus is elsewhere – and we all know what on. Some standout parties that will live in CP’s memory are undoubtedly what made the drawbacks of this year almost forgettable. Lack of inspiring items and a sheer lack of decorated rooms is an issue which still shows in 2015 and it really questions whether the game has reached its’ limit in terms of what it can do to entertain its’ audience – which brings me onto 2016.

2016

Thus far, we know that there will be a Prehistoric Party this month. Whilst it seems to be very similar to previous versions, 2016’s will also incorporate some items from Pixar’s recent film, ‘The Good Dinosaur’. I was never personally a fan of these Prehistoric parties as they are often lacking in story and the activities and often more annoying than fun. Let’s hope this year’s fixes these flaws.

The major event of 2016 however will be the eventual release of Project Super Secret / CPNext. This will be CP’s biggest update yet; taking the entire game to a brand new level – all in 3D! Whilst the release date has currently not been announced yet, we can expect the game to change dramatically this year; hopefully for the better.

Here’s to 2016!

Random CP Fact #54: Sneak peeks of the upcoming Project Super Secret are coming more frequently than ever due to its’ release date edging closer and closer. Below is a image Spike Hike posted on the CP blog; showing a 3D model of the island.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 20.27.55

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

Fashion Festival Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

Content

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

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

Activities/Quests

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

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

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

Items

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

Mascots

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

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

Decorations

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

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

Glitches/Bugs

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

Verdict

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson