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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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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

Puffle Party 2016: Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

With March underway, most of us will be questioning why time is flying as if we’re all aboard the Time Trekker 3000. Already in the third month of 2016, we look at the third major event to hit the island; the Puffle Party 2016 edition. Along with many, I was sceptical of this event. Why? Well, every year since 2009 has hosted its own Puffle Party – some better than others. Lately, it seems the parties serve more to introduce a plethora of the furry creatures as opposed to celebrating those we already have. Will 2016’s return to the Puffle Party roots or spam us with more Puffle creatures? Let’s find out!

Content

As usual, this party is a celebration for the island’s beloved pets (No, not Fluffy. Sorry). Never one for a strong narrative or interesting character development, this party historically flourishes in activities and interactivity for players and their virtual pets. This time, we were blessed with some rather fun activities and decently decorated rooms to enjoy – for a whopping 3 weeks! This party also provided Members to adopt every single Puffle to date – even the rare limited ones such as the Blue Crystal & Snowman (Olaf)!

Activites

Each day, players had to hunt down a certain coloured Puffle in order to unlock items inspired by said coloured Puffle. Going to a specific room, players had to click on certain objects to uncover the hiding Puffle. Often, the objects would shake slightly to provide hints. However, sometimes the wrong species of Puffle would appear; meaning players would have to keep looking. An interesting scavenger hunt-inspired activity in which satisfied the cravings left from the absence of Easter Egg scavenger hunts. Whilst not too challenging, I found these simplistic daily hunts to be pleasantly enjoyable, if only the same could be said for the items..

Items

As stated previously, those who completed the tasks for each coloured Puffle received rewards. Basically, the daily rewards were the same, just recoloured. Whilst this can be irritating and certainly becomes tiring, I find that recolouring is suitable for Puffle-themed items as – like Puffles – each colour represents a different personality.

Each reward featured five items. A (specific Puffle coloured) O-berry pin, hoodie, hat, ballon and shoes. Unfortunately, as is with all the events thus far in 2016, Non-Members received nothing but the pins. Whilst everyone could’ve expected to obtain at least the hat if the same party was thrown last year, this is unfortunately not the case anymore; with pins serving as the only item for Non-Members in the 2016 parties thus far. An unjustified, greedy and poor attempt at trying to entice more players to purchase a Membership during CP’s slow decline in quality. The equality bar is continuously lowering, here’s hoping Project Super Secret fixes this.

Decorations

Pretty much the same as the 2015 version, bar a few new balloons and lack of attention to the Wilderness. Some satisfying decorations with some attention to interior rooms means – by recent years standards at least – few will be too disappointed. I think I speak for most when I say true Puffle domains would be a very welcome return (like those seen within the first few versions of the fluffy creature themed event).

Mascots

Everyone’s favourite Puffle-obsessed and for-some-reason-Australian (possibly in relation to how Aussies are stereotypically good with animals?) Puffle Handler; Paige! Sure, nobody actually calls her Paige but that’s still her name.

Verdict

Ultimately, the Puffle Party 2016 was a decent attempt at reviving a somewhat ageing themed party. The added activities provided some interesting things to do that, whilst somewhat lacking in variety, helped fill the void of the Easter Egg scavenger hunts of years passed. Was it the best one yet? Probably not, I preferred the Puffle domains of yesteryear combined with the interesting items – all, or at least most of which, were for everyone. Still, a solid attempt and one that didn’t seem to distract too much from the celebration of Puffles (which is what I felt the 2015 version did – though the Sasquatch plot was somewhat interesting).

Hey, at least we didn’t get plagued with even more Puffles!

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

10th Anniversary Party Critical Review!

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

Content

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

Activities/Quests 

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

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

Items

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

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

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

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

Mascots

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

Decorations

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

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

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

Foreshadowing

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

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

Verdict

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

Jimbobson   JimBOTSon

Festival of Snow 2015 Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

Despite the month of June consisting of no official parties as such, today we had an unexpected update. Rather than CP’s usual Thursday/Wednesday tradition, CP instead updated today; 30th June. Why? Possibly so they could say that June did in fact hold a party (which would prevent this years year book from looking unusually empty). Regardless, despite it being a fairly small-scale event, it hit many spots in which modern parties fail too. Which says a lot, for a game in which is always supposed to be progressing.

Content

For those who remember the original Festival of Snow way back in February 2007 (even that was before my time!), then the 2015 version is pretty much the same bar new artwork. Basically, the idea is that players submit their own artwork and a select few become an actual snow sculpture on the island; including a credit to your penguin’s name and an image of the original artwork. It’s a great artwork and involves the players; but unfortunately only two of these festival of snows have existed throughout the island’s history.

Unlike The Fair and Music Jam however, this years’ Festival of Snow remains virtually identical to the one found in 07 as I’ve stated previously. This means that the originality of 2007 really shines through here, complete with island-wide decor and even free item boxes. Yay!

Activities/Quests

None! Except waddle around and examine the sculptures, original art work and collect the free items. Ah, the simplicity of the old days.

Items

Both the rare Ice Crown and Snowflake Shirt make their return at this event. First released during the original 2007 version, this makes sense. Whilst it may anger the rarest of penguins (if they’re not already angry due to the poor July clothing and igloo catalogues), many new penguins will be thrilled by these original ice-themed items. Even Jimbobson didn’t own these two original iced gems!

Mascots

None, but that’s okay because pretty much every event in the old days never had a mascot either, except the odd visit from Rockhopper of course.

Decorations

Island-wide, simplistic and original. The only issue I would pick out here is the lack of interior room decor, but that never happened during the original so it’d be very very critical to expect it during this year’s version.

Verdict

When I first heard that CP was doing another festival of snow, I didn’t expect it to be as big as the last one. Even if it was, I didn’t expect island-wide decor and especially didn’t expect items – never mind rare items returning. Overall, I enjoyed this event and that’s something I haven’t said and thoroughly meant it in quite a while. Even the music is a joy to listen to. For those old enough to obtain the items during the original event, you may want to calm your rage by looking forward to next month’s party: An Inside Out Takeover! Including Rockhopper! This should be a good one….

Random CP Fact #46: The Ice Crown was first released in February 2007 and hasn’t returned since..until now. The Snowflake T-Shirt however was released in both the Series 2 & 5 Treasure Books.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

2014 in CP – Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

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

Content

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

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

Parties

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

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

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

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

Puffles

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

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

Quests & Tasks

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

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

Items

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

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

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

Apps

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

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

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

Merchandise

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

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

Broken Promises

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

Overall

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Sunshine, lollipops and Rainbow Puffles

Greetings Penguins!

As promised, I shall be doing a post about CP’s latest puffle arrival. I say latest, it hasn’t actually being confirmed or released yet. But CP has definitley hinted strongly at it. In their latest video, CP is advertising their new song, something about a wingman, whatever the hell that is. Anyway, at the end of the video, the Rainbow puffle is shown. It winks, then farts (yeah, smooth CP, smooth).

Image

Aww ain’t he cute? Seem fimilar? Aye, that is exactly the same puffle that is shown in the new header! The personality, likes/dislikes about this puffle is currently unknown. However, it could possibly be a colour changing chameleon puffle (as PH discussed in one of the CP Magazine issues). We won’t know for sure until the Puffle Party in March.

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

Site updates and giveaway reminder

Greetings Penguins!

After having the Christmas themed header on the site since December, I decided it was time for a change! Now you’ll notice that a brand new header has been created (and it’s puffle themed!) and is currently being displayed on the site. I have also removed the mixpod (which played music on the page) as it is no longer Christmas…obviously. Let me know what you think!

In other news, we almost have 50,000 views! That means that the giveaway for a code to unlock the exclusive CP Club Shirt (available only through the first issue of CP’s official magazine – currently only in the UK) will soon be upon us!

Finally, I will end with a sneak peek of the upcoming Puffle Party (which is also shown on CP’s official blog).

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson