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Spike Hike: The end of an era!

Greetings Penguins!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jimbobson

1,050 Words of Utter Nonsense.

Prologue

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

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

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

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

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

Controversy, Controversy, Controversy.

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

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

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

RIP Club Penguin. Wait. What?!

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

Do I Stay Or Do I Go?

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

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

 

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

-Jimbobson

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

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

Puffle Wild Critical Review!

Happy Holidays Penguins!

Although the Merry Walrus party is approaching its’ end, I thought I would postpone that review until the final day or so – just in case CP has something up their sleeve (though I highly doubt it). Regardless, this post will focus on the Puffle Wild app that was recently released.

Gameplay & Originality

We all know what type of game Puffle Wild is. Best described as yet another Candy Crush clone, Puffle Wild aims to take on the massive franchise by combining the gameplay with Club Penguin elements. For those of you who are a fan of these type of games, Puffle Wild should bring a lot of entertainment and will undoubtedly have you buying the in-app-purchases if you’re penguin is not already a Member.

In terms of originality, these type of games have been around for decades. I even remember playing them in the late 90s! The massive success of Candy Crush is undeniably what made CP make this app. These type of games are addicting – very addicting – which is always a good basis for a successful mobile application (think of the infamous Flappy Bird). Where the originality does shine within this app is the incorporation of Puffles and O’ Berries. Different Puffles possess different abilities known as Puffle Powers that will assist you throughout the game. Players can also unlock new Puffle creatures – and wow there’s a lot of em’ (13 to be precise). But more on this later.

The gameplay is fairly solid. Different levels require different methods to complete. Some require a particular score, whilst others require melting the snow. Regardless, the typical 3-in-a-row strategy is always present – which can sometimes cause repetition, especially as the levels progress.

In-App Purchases & Membership

Freemium. We’ve heard that name before. Freemium is the concept in which the application is free to download, but contains in-app purchases for exclusive levels or content – thus the game isn’t technically free. If there ever was a better app to define this concept, it would be Puffle Wild. Of course, you can choose not to buy the exclusive content, but in this scenario it’s recommended to obtain the full experience.

If you’re a Member, this isn’t a problem as you can play every level and unlock all the Puffles at no extra cost. Things become a little darker for non-members however, as each bonus level (that contains an unlockable Puffle) requires an individual purchase. This sounds fine, until you realise that every bonus level requires a purchase of over £1. Due to their being 13 bonus levels (and 1 Puffle per bonus level), the resulting cost would be quite expensive. Therefore it is recommended that you instead buy a 1 month membership at least.

If you are a member, you can play every level (including bonus levels) without restriction. Unlocking each Puffle and Puffle platform (to use the Puffle Powers in-game) as well as the ability to transfer all your new Puffles to the main game. Exciting!

Difficulty

With most addictive games, they provide a challenge. Candy Crush became increasingly difficult as the levels progressed, whilst Flappy Bird was an incredible challenge for pretty much everyone involved. To begin with, Puffle Wild is pretty easy as it introduces you to the game. As it progresses, you unlock Puffles and Puffle Powers to assist you through the harder levels. Personally, I found the levels in which asked you to remove all the piles of snow to complete were amongst the most difficult.

The real challenge here however, begins if you’re a non-member. Members can use the unlockable Puffles and their powers to breeze through most of the levels. Not only this, but Members also have access to more platforms, which means more Puffles. Non-Members however, have access to only the Blue and Red Puffles which, unfortunately, have a very poor ability that barely assists players at all. To make things worse, free users can only use one Puffle per level (due to the platform restriction). This provides the game with a whopping challenge – particularly if you wish to achieve 3 stars on each level. This had me personally rage-quitting several times and eventually, giving up completely.

Puffles

CP’s once favoured pets are the focus behind this app – obviously. As if it wasn’t enough that Puffles are taken advantage of nowadays due to the plethora of them being released, the team decided it would be a great idea to release 13 more in said application. Whilst we knew this was coming, it doesn’t make the situation any less ridiculous. Puffles are released far too often nowadays, and often in several colours per creature. No longer do we get original coloured Puffles with unique personalities – but instead different species that seem to lack personalities. Sure, the Ghost Puffle was actually quite a cool idea, but the sheer volume of them being released this year really voids their value.

Each Puffle specie has its’ own Power in the app, which is a nice addition. But the fact that this is the second app to be focused around these furball creatures (the first being Puffle Launch) really has players questioning whether CP can come up with anything even remotely original. Sure, Sled Racer was decent app in itself but the idea behind the game is anything but original. Plus, when was the last time any of CP’s other apps (bar the main one) was updated with new and exciting content? Sled Racer in particular could’ve had a Merry Walrus theme incorporated, dodging obstacles such as Christmas Trees and giant candy canes – but no, where’s the financial benefit of that?

One of the most worrying parts comes with what PH says when the game is fully completed. She states that there will be more levels on the way in future updates, which can only mean one thing. More Puffles! Yay, just what everybody in the community wants! They will undoubtedly introduce the same tiresome gameplay with a few new dodgy-looking Puffles to unlock for real-money unless you’re a Member. Can’t wait!

Improvements

As with any app, improvements are required. The first is less of an improvement and more of a request, and that would be for the app to be released on Android too. The main CP app took over a year to arrive on Android, so hopefully (if you’re a fan of Puffle Wild) it will be released sooner. Most developers tend to release apps on iOS first as the users are more likely to purchase either the app or the features available through in-app purchases. Android makes up for this by its’ larger userbase which was proven to be correct after the main CP app was downloaded by more Android users in the first few days than iOS in a year.

Another improvement would definitely be more varied levels with new ways to complete them, to avoid repetition which plagues almost every one of these match 3 games. New Puffles are unavoidable at this stage, so I’d like to see more original versions (or at least anything that isn’t as odd as the Unicorn Puffle). Although this is pretty much impossible nowadays, more Puffles for everyone would definitely be a welcome addition. Even many Members support this idea, as the current ratio is slightly over-the-top. However, if CP really despises that idea, better Powers for the Blue and Red Puffles would also be a nice addition.

Do I recommend it?

Obviously, everybody has their own opinion. If you’re a fan of match 3 games then you’re surely in for a Puffle-sized treat. For those who aren’t however, like myself, may want to give this one a miss. Unless of course you’re a huge Puffle fan and want to unlock 13 more of them. Also, if you’re a non-member with no intentions of purchasing a membership or the overpriced bonus levels, and have no interest in these type of games, I suggest you never approach the ‘Get’ button on the App Store. Ever. Just waddle away as fast as you can.

Ultimately, I find this app to be a rather cheap way of releasing Puffles in volume, with the overall aim of the app being financial based (as with many apps). Sure, it has some entertainment value but I cannot imagine anyone wanting to play this app to reduce boredom as opposed to simply unlocking more Puffles. For those of you without Memberships, you may enjoy the pure challenge of completing even some simpler levels with the underpowered Red and Blue Puffles.

Conclusion

So overall Puffle Wild is a mildly entertaining app for those who are a fan of the genre, but likely to be more of a chore for the rest of us. Sure, it’s programming and graphics are decent, but there’s a lack of variety and features for those free users. It’s currently a moderately successful app in its’ own respect, but expect the hype to decrease quickly. I also find it slightly annoying that this could’ve easily been a game on the island itself, but CP insisted that their financially-inspired move to mobile was more important.

Anyways, this will mark my last post before Christmas and thus Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers. It’s certainly been an eventful year on the island and here’s to next year which will hopefully be better than 2014. Regardless, expect a Merry Walrus critical review followed by the 2014 critical review within the next couple of weeks!

Random CP Fact #34: Club Penguin once held a Surprise Party in November 2007. The idea behind it was to give players 3 options to choose from. Each option was the return of a retired party – a Sports Party, a Pirate Party or a Western Party. The Western Party received the most votes. This was the only party to be decided via a poll thus far.

Until next time, Happy Holidays!

– Jimbobson

#SaveTheClubPenguin

Greetings Penguins!

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

Where did #SaveTheClubPenguin come from?

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

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

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

What does #SaveTheClubPenguin mean?

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

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

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

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

What can we do?

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

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

What do you think of all this?

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

School and Skate Party – First Impressions

Greetings Penguins!

I know, I know. 2 posts in a week for me nowadays is a rarity. For those who don’t already know, I quit the standard blogging a few years ago due to the time constraints and how blogging every single thing CP did or released got tiresome after 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, but wow can it be a tiring job. Not to mention, there’s plenty of other fan blogs out there that do update everything that occurs. I prefer to write posts when I feel like it, therefore resulting in better work rather than when I felt like I was forced to.

School and Skate Party?

Anyways, with the relative success of the Frozen party almost behind us, we have the School & Skate party to look forward to this month. CP has never thrown any party in which was based upon school; yes it can be argued that the Prom mini-party and the Monster’s University takeover contained school themes, it wasn’t quite as direct. The announcement of this party was no doubt met with sceptical people asking ‘why?’. School is not exactly the most fun time for everyone. Undoubtedly it can be fun sometimes, learning Maths and English is something that I doubt many penguins will be looking forward to.

School is a major part of our lives. In fact, it consumes our entire childhood and continues into our late teenage years. We are forced to endure countless hours in what is often a crowded environment full of people we may or may not like. Learning Maths can be fun for some, but a nightmare of numbers for others. The same applies for school itself; some despise it whilst some cannot wait to return every day to learn something new.

I’m sure no matter what situation you’re in, you’ll agree that CP and indeed many other online, console or any type of games or entertainment is an escape from school life. It’s nice to get home and forget about waking up early tomorrow morning by waddling around with some friends on CP, or indeed shooting people to death on the latest Call of Duty. 

So, after the joy that is the summer holidays bids farewell and back to school adverts grace our television with typical negative responses from those attending, the last thing we want is to be reminded even on our online escapisms. Yes, CP usually releases back to school themed items such as the iconic Letterman Jacket and different coloured backpacks, but that’s as far as it goes. September was once home to The Fair – then dubbed as the Fall Fair on the island of CP. In recent years we’ve also seen the Medieval Party take this spot.

Upon Megg’s confirmation of the School-themed party on the What’s New Blog, it became evident of what CP was trying to do. She insisted back to school shopping was so much fun and stated how much we all love school which was received with controversy by much of the community. CP will also be helping to build schools in Ecuador, Haiti and India which is of course a grand gesture; but do we really need a party based on school?

Of course, it’s far too early to determine the success or indeed the downfall of this party. Thus far, I’ve seen more negative responses than I have positive. Personally, I find that many use CP as an escape from reality and school in particular, so to be reminded of this is somewhat annoying. There’s also the factor that the Skating element is more popular towards the American community, and we will undoubtedly see the stereotypical Nerds, Jocks and Cheerleaders that are popular in that culture. Whatever the party entails, you can be sure it will be receiving a critical review upon its’ release. 🙂

Next Time: I will be discussing the ongoing mystery that is the Sasquatch! 

Random CP Fact #24: During the Christmas Party 2007, the rare Christmas Scarf was accidentally released several days too early – for only half an hour. It was then re-released on December 24th 2007 as originally planned. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Frozen Party – Critical Review!

Greetings Penguins!

One of the most highly anticipated parties of the year will be concluding very soon. The Frozen Party, or takeover if you will, was apparently one of the most highly requested parties amongst the CP fanbase. Whilst many weren’t exactly happy about another Disney sponsored party, the announcement of this one seemed to excite more than it did disappoint. Did it live up to expectations or will penguins be pleased to let it go?

The Good:

  • This was a brand new, never-before-seen party that included both elements of summer and winter. Penguins could freeze and unfreeze rooms giving said room a winter or summery feel, or even a mixture of both. Like the film, the party contained all our favourite Frozen characters including Olaf, Marshmallow and Queen Elsa. However, unlike the Muppet’s takeover, none of these characters were actually mascots like Kermit was. Instead, members could transform into Olaf and Marshmallow whilst Queen Elsa would perform in her ice palace within the second week of the party.
  • New items: This party saw the introduction of a plethora of new items. A massive 15 items were available and that’s not even including the Ice Palace igloo, the Ice furniture items or Queen Elsa’s background. As per, not every item was available for everyone. 7 Items out of 15 (again not including those discussed prior) were available for Members, so overall a fairly healthy number.
  • New Igloo & Furiture items: As discussed previously, this party saw Queen Elsa give out a free Ice Palace igloo for everyone. Yes, everyone! This is the second igloo released for everyone at a party, with the first being the Sweet Swirl Igloo from the Holiday Party 2013. Not only this but everyone could even get a set of ice-themed furniture items. This included 5 Ice Thrones, 10 Ice Rugs and 3 Ice Dining Tables. Awesome!
  • New Puffle: One of the main member features of this party was the ability to build your own Snowman Puffle. Whilst sounding like a unique customisation possibility, it was actually the ability of adopting a Olaf-themed puffle inspired by the character from the film. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the mass introduction of so many Puffles lately, at least it’s not one of those strange Puffle Creatures (i.e Dino, Dog, Cat Puffles).
  • Decorated Island: Hallelujah, the island is decorated. Unlike the controversy with last month’s Music Jam, the majority of the island is decorated. Each room has 2 versions, a summer-ish theme and a frozen theme. The fact that we have control over which version we get (and can freeze some areas giving the room variety) is definitely a good thing. I would’ve liked to see more snow however, with perhaps the snow falling animation seen during Elsa’s performance being used in other rooms.

Improvements:

  • Scavenger Hunt/Quest: Upon logging in, we were instantly made aware of how to earn items. Simply heading to one of the rooms stated (Town, Dock, Beach etc) and looking for 3 snowflakes per room would unlock items. Although this sounds pretty fun, the sheer size of the snowflakes made finding them a task simpler than logging in. This meant the average penguin could find all the snowflakes and unlock all items in 2 minutes or under. After that, there was little else to do other than wait for Queen Elsa’s performance.
  • Winter in August: There was something about having a Frozen party in August that seemed strange. Yes I understand that the film does actually take place in Summer before everything becomes frozen, but I would’ve preferred something more focused around the warmest season. Last year’s Teen Beach Movie did exactly that, which is why it remains one of my favourite sponsored parties thus far.
  • Interior Decorations: Or rather the lack of. Nowadays, the island isn’t as decorated as it used to be. Parties often include a new room or set of rooms, such as the Music Jam, where the majority of the party take place. When this happens, most of the island gets ignored, with only the Town, Plaza and sometimes the Dock getting a decorated version. However, when the island does get decorated, the interiors of these rooms almost never get a makeover. The Frozen Party is no exception. The Coffee Shop has had no attention, nor has the Dance Club or even the Pizza Parlour. These three used to always receive some form of contextual re-design when there was a party occurring.
  • Members get more: We all get it by now. Members get more items and can typically transform at modern parties. If said event includes a new puffle or a body item it’s around 99% likely that it will be for Members only. Whilst this is understandable, after all, CP is a business and needs to generate income, it still seems a little unnecessary. Non-members are in desperate need of a new puffle. The last one were the Red Puffles in 2006. That’s 8 years without a new puffle. Would one more puffle really prevent that much income for the company? As for body items, the same applies.

Overall, the Frozen Party is one that received mixed reviews. Yes, many enjoyed the decorated island and the majority of the content, but many also found that the quests were far too easy and the lack of a mascot meant there was nobody to hunt down and receive that limited background. For those who are looking forward to the month of back to school adverts, school itself and the departure of summer for yet another year can also look forward to CP’s next party – the School and Skate Party. I will discuss this in more detail soon.

Random CP Fact #23: The Summer Kickoff Party 2007 contained 5 free items for everyone which was a record at the time. These were the Blue Lei, the Ice Cream Apron, the Green Inflatable Duck, a Flower Headdress and the Green Sunglasses.

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

Wild Sasquatch Appeared!

Greetings Penguins!

I’m sure by now many of you have heard of the latest mascot coming to CP. Is it Rory, is it Jet Pack Guy? No, it’s a Bigfoot/Sasquatch creature with a Beta Hat. You heard right, the thing has it’s very own Beta Hat. Here’s a picture of his artwork.

sasquatch

 

For those of you that are unaware, Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) is a mythical ape-like creature that is rumoured to inhabit forest areas in the wilderness. You may also recognise these names as they are both names given to servers on Club Penguin. There is little known about this guy other than rather than being like a bi-pedal ape he (or she?) has a beak, so it is quite a bizarre creation. Anyhow, this guy is rumoured to live in the cave that can be seen from Ski Hill – especially given Aunt Arctic’s report about said place in a recent Club Penguin Times article.

cave mystery

Still not convinced? Well our big-footed-friend can actually be found on the island! Like any other mascot, he is currently meetable in-game and will give a free background upon clicking the button on its’ playercard. It’s currently known as “??????” much like Sensei was during the Dig out the Dojo project way back in 2008. There are also several rumours that it is meetable on the Club Penguin app too. It should be relatively easy to spot due to its’ bigger size when compared to penguins (like Herbert) and of course that signature Beta Hat.

How did this thing get a Beta Hat?!

I’m sure this question will be asked a lot when the creature becomes more acknowledged on the island. Currently, it’s a mystery. Sensei has stated that he indeed does have one himself, but that’s understandable as he left the island and returned in 2008 from his travels to train ninjas – plus – he’s old. Sasquatch’s Beta Hat indicates that he has been around for a while which should provide CP with the ability to hopefully produce an interesting backstory of how it has been here since the beginning. However, the sheer size of it’s Beta Hat far outsizes the standard one possessed by rare penguins – which looks odd when you notice the creature in game. The hat is about half the size of the penguins themselves. It would’ve made sense if it the standard size, plus it would look quite comical on such a large beast.

Why is it here?

When Sasquatch’s mascot ID was found in the CP game files, many predicted that September would host a Mountain Expedition or something in order to discover the mystery cave discussed previously, thus introducing the creature. This is of course still a possibility, though very unlikely. Sasquatch is on the game now, and doesn’t fit in with the upcoming Frozen Party whatsoever. When met in game, it apparently only says stuff like “UGH” so that provides no help either. One thing is certain, this weeks Club Penguin Times issue should give us some more information – if the What’s New blog doesn’t first.

Random CP Fact #22: CP has recently released a Sled Racing game to the Apple App Store. The game differs from the online version as it is currently not multiplayer and is an endless 3D runner-type game similar to Temple Run. 

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson