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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

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A Few Updates..

Greetings Penguins!

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

The Zootopia Takeover (May 18 – July 6)

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

Finding Dory Party (July 6 – August 17)

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

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

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

Frozen Fever Party 2016 (August 18 – September 28)

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

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

Going Forward

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

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

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

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

Until next time..

-Jimbobson

2016 in CP: 5 Things I’d Like To See

Greetings Penguins!

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

1) Project Super Secret

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

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

2) Improved Parties

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

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

3) Improved Chat Filter

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

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

4) Merchandise

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

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

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

5) No more excuses!

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 20.05.49

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

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

‘Holiday Party: 2015’ Critical Review!

Note: You may notice the domain Jimbobson.com has expired. The URL is once again Jimbobson.wordpress.com. I may renew it in the new year but for now that’s the only way to get to this site. Apologies for any inconvenience! 

Greetings Penguins!

The final month of the year has always ensured the festivity of the holidays was brought to the island. Whether called the Christmas Party, the Holiday Party or even the Merry Walrus Party; December has always promised to provide an eventful, festive experience.

Content

After last years Walrus-shaped mishap, CP has ultimately opted on playing it safe. Returning to the more traditional ‘Holiday Party’ name, 2015’s edition is admittedly too similar to what we’ve seen in previous years. Whilst the original Christmas parties had different themes (white, snow covered blizzard Christmas in 2006 and the Classic Christmas of 2007), the Holiday Parties have always included pretty much the same elements, with only a couple of new features. Like past years, the Christmas-inspired events have never really had a plot as such, but is merely a celebration of the winter-themed event.

But at least there was no overly-cheesy Walrus this time around, right?

Activities / Quests

The absolute major downfall of this party was the fact there was nothing to do. Sure, players could donate to Coins for Change, hunt down Rockhopper and collect the daily items from the Christmas countdown calendar – but that was pretty much it. Members could adopt the Olaf and Blue Crystal Puffle then pick on their friends by freezing them (by transforming into the Frost Bite). The Magic Sleigh Ride we’ve seen countless times since 2009 also made its’ return which, whilst a fun time waster for new players, didn’t come with any new items for those who have played over two months (it actually returned during the 10th Anniversary..).

To conclude this section, the party fails where modern parties must succeed. The older parties from back in CP’s early history had a plot, a few simplistic free items and endless roleplaying opportunity thanks to a much better filter, which is ironic considering games are supposed to improve their features over time, not go backwards.

Items

Perhaps where this party did shine was the plethora of items available. A total of 33 free items were available – a giant amount for any party. Of course, not all of these were for everyone and many were either returning (in the case of Puffles or mascot backgrounds) or re-coloured items. Nothing too spectacular, though the item advent calendar did grant everyone with a selection of furniture items and a Deluxe Gingerbread House (which non-members still cannot access for some odd reason). Certainly an improvement over Operation: Crustacean but falls flat when compared to the 10th Anniversary.

Decorations

The Holiday/Christmas parties have always been richly decorated. From snowmen to christmas trees, these parties had everything you would expect – and more! Last year’s Merry Walrus Party was incredibly lacklustre in decorations and, if we’re being honest, lacklustre in pretty much every department.

Since the Holiday Parties have begun however, we’ve been treated to the dusk sky covered with stars and animated northern lights. Whilst still appealing, I do feel its losing its’ effectiveness. Just like the Halloween parties used to mix eclipses, storms and sometimes a combination of both; I feel the Holiday Parties should consist of something new. Perhaps snowfall?

Regardless, 2015 saw a big improvement in this section when compared to last year. Even the recently released Area 501 had its’ exterior and interior mildly decorated. If I was to suggest some improvements though, it would be more animation! Make those lights twinkle, make the ice sparkle, make the northern lights move in every room!

Pre-New Year Update: CP has recently added fireworks to the Ice Berg and Ski Hill as usual. However, this time they also added dance mats which is a great addition. It’s clear the team is finally paying attention to the community – subtleties really give a room a polished and professional appearance.

Mascots

Out with the Walrus, in with the Pirate! Yep, everyone’s favourite Captain Rockhopper returned for this years Holiday Party – complete with a completely fixed Migrator!

Wait, but didn’t that get destro…oh, don’t mention it? Okay. Moving on..

Coins for Change

Those who attended last year’s Merry Walrus party may remember the whole fiasco regarding CP’s annual charity event. With the goal not reached, Merry Walrus apparently donated the rest of the coins – a cheap attempt of covering up the huge decrease of the game’s fanbase in recent years.

This year however, we apparently hit the 10 billion goal. In 9 days! Whether this was legit or not, we don’t know. Whilst I’d like to believe players donated over 10 billion coins, it could simply be that the coin counter was fixed to hide the fact CP isn’t getting any popular.

Verdict

In conclusion, CP ends 2015 in a satisfactory manner. Certainly an improvement over last year, 2015 has some stand-out moments that will undoubtedly live on for the history of the game. The 10th Anniversary was amazing and the Halloween party was certainly a solid effort. The Holiday Party, whilst unlikely to stand out in anyone’s memory as one of the best in the series, is still an above average party all things considered. Flawed, but not bad. Not bad at all.

Be sure to stay tuned for the 2015 in CP critical review. Basically, my flippers fall off by the end of it.

Random CP Fact #53: At a mod meet up on 30th December 2015, Megg confirmed that Project Super Secret WILL arrive in 2016. 

Until next time, have a Happy New Year!

-Jimbobson