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Club Penguin Island: First Impressions!

Greetings Penguins!

As many know, CPI is now available in the Australian iOS App Store and doesn’t require Beta access – meaning everyone can download it! Well, as long as you live in Australia..

Anyways, over the past day or so I’ve managed to gain access to Club Penguin Island (CPI) – through methods I will share if requested. With that, I have compiled a list of my first impressions on the new mobile game and decided to write about them here. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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Visuals – Let it snow!

Unlike original CP which looks incredibly dated with its flat 2D appearance, CPI is completely 3D, providing the team with much more flexibility in terms of interaction with the environment – a key feature of this game. The visuals within this game are very appealing, with saturated colours and plenty of detail. However, the lack of snow across the world is something that I’m not personally a fan of. CP was always designed to be a winter wonderland, CPI’s current rooms feel like a summer vacation hotspot. Visually, it doesn’t really feel like Club Penguin at all. Replace the penguins with ToonTown characters and nobody would realise the world was designed for CP penguins. Give us more snow!

Gameplay – New Yet Familiar

Much like original CP, CPI focuses on interaction with other players in a warm (literally!), welcome environment. However, that’s not all the game has to offer. Mini-games are gone and instead replaced with daily quests provided by various CP mascots. The quests are somewhat fun, if not too easy (the first few at least). They offer far more engagement than the current tasks assigned to original CP parties, that’s for sure. But Operation: Blackout style quests would be an excellent and much welcome addition.

Role-playing has also been dramatically enhanced. Players can purchase food/drinks for their penguin, a much richer clothing-customisation system, and an environment in which you can truly interact with. It destroys original CP in every way in this category – but one problem persists – Membership.

Do You Want To Build a Snowman Be a Member?

Like original CP – Membership returns. Unlike the freemium in-app purchase model which plagues the majority of apps and games within the mobile market, CP opts for the standard subscription-based model as before. The only issue is that this is not commonplace within mobile gaming. Paying $8 or so a month for a mobile game is something that I can’t imagine many parents agreeing too. Especially when considering the investment of a mobile phone to begin with (handset costs, contract costs, data costs etc!).

The model itself simply isn’t suited to mobile gaming. The smartphone app market is incredibly saturated, being unique is vital – but so is offering players a good deal. The majority of features within CPI are Members-only. From buying food to completing most quests to using certain emoji to even wearing ANY items – you must be a Member! This aggressive approach to the freemium model is somewhat understandable, but not when considering CP’s history of allowing non-members to gain access to clothing items and the majority of gameplay throughout the game’s lifespan.

Maybe this is why the team didn’t transfer old items to new accounts? Even if they did, you can bet it’d be Members only..

All in all, I feel that this game would only be truly worth player’s time if they purchased a Membership. If not, stick to the original CP until it eventually dies. Otherwise, find another game to play. There are many, many solid games on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Look at Super Mario Run, offering a one-off payment (at least for now) for the entire game. Not monthly subscriptions!

Another good example is Pokemon Go – a game that enjoyed tremendous success over the summer. It offers in-app purchases yes, but players are never forced to spend money on it to play the proper game, especially not via a subscription service.

Conclusions

All things considered, CPI is a welcome and much-needed evolution for CP. It keeps the game fresh and modern, and offers a enjoyable and quality experience should you invest in a Membership. For those of us with many other costs to consider – such as smartphone contracts, I’d recommend other games. Undoubtedly, for the die-hard CP fan this is THE go-to game. I’ll certainly pop on every now and again. But for now, the neutered non-member experience – especially considering CP’s history, makes this game a less than enjoyable experience for most. 

Are players willing to pay a subscription for a mobile game? Perhaps. But I’d imagine it’ll be significantly less than those willing to pay a subscription for a PC game. In-app purchases are admittedly an annoying approach but a tried-and-tested one nonetheless. This model works for Pokemon Go. This model works for Clash of Clans. One-off payments work for Super Mario Run. Subscriptions work for..maybe Club Penguin Island?

Who knows?

Until next time, Waddle on!

– Jimbobson

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Jim’s Tech – What Do I use?

Greetings All!

This marks my first post that is not associated with CP whatsoever. Instead, I will be talking about which devices I’m currently using in certain categories. The major focus will go on the 3 main categories; smartphone, tablet and computer.

Smartphone: HTC One (M8)

I’ve always been a fan of Android ever since I first experienced it – when a relative of mine purchased the original Samsung Galaxy Note. The huge, vibrant screen was overwhelming. Up until then, I was using old phones simply for the text/call factor, not to download games and browse the web. The Note itself is what booted my love for smartphones. I’ve been obsessed with smartphones for years now, one is always on my person wherever I go. The plethora of possibility in such a portable, personal device is probably my favourite thing about them. Music? Apps? Games? Reading? Browsing? Watching videos? Taking photos? Emails? No problem!

My first Android device was a Samsung Galaxy III – a phone in which made me question how I lived my life without a smartphone in the first place. It was an amazing device for its’ time. The size of the screen was perhaps one of the most attracting factor, combined with Samsung’s famous Super AMOLED screens – praised for their saturated colours. I used this thing for everything. It came with me everywhere. Being an Android user, I eventually decided to install a custom ROM to replace Samsung’s stock TouchWiz UI (which can be a little laggy sometimes). Regardless, I ran several ROM’s including Liquidsmooth and CyanogenMOD. Both of which being great alternatives.

Since then (Late mid 2012) I’ve owned several other phones, including the Galaxy Note and the Google Nexus 4. The Note I found to be a little awkward to hold at times, whereas the Nexus 4 was fantastic due to its’ build quality and pure Android – though it did lack several features I missed from Samsung’s versions. After another relative purchased the original HTC One (M7), I was immediately curious. I hadn’t used a HTC Android phone before, but wow what a beast that thing was. Combining exceptional design, build quality, software, hardware and of course those famous front-facing speakers – the M7 rightly won the Phone of the Year award from T3. Sense, HTC’s version of Android, was particularly impressive. HTC had taken Google’s Android and included features and an interface that was beneficial for the user – and not just a bloatware marketing gimmick that TouchWiz seems to offer.

With this in mind, I got my HTC One M8 this year. Thus far, I love the device. The BoomSound features are perhaps my favourite feature. The full aluminium unibody design rivals anything Apple has brought to the table. One could say the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been influenced by HTC’s design standards – particularly when both are compared to the M8. I use this device a lot every day. It’s always with me. I also use it for music purposes – rather than those people who instead like to carry a MP3 Player and a smartphone at the same time.

As rumours hot up regarding the M8’s successor – codenamed ‘Hima’ – I instead look forward to Android 5.0 Lollipop and HTC’s next version of Sense (Sense 7.0). Will I become increasingly jealous over the M9 as time goes on? I hope not. My bank wouldn’t appreciate buying out my contract which has over a year left!

Tablet: iPad Mini 2

I bet readers didn’t expect that. “But you love Android?” Yes. But I also enjoy iOS. There are plenty of people whom possess one or the other and therefore begin to hate on the one they don’t own. I instead prefer to own several devices in which run on different operating systems – thus getting the best of all the worlds. Android I prefer for its’ customisation, rich features and the fact that devices aren’t limited to one manufacturer. Don’t like Samsung but like Android? No problem! Go with HTC. Or LG. Or Moto. And so on.

I’ve always used iOS for tablets. I love the seamless way iOS seems to simply just work. iOS 8 is a great mobile OS that serves its’ purpose incredibly well. It’s simple and easy to use for everyone, contains a great App Store and of course updates come straight to your device direct from the manufacturer. The tablet-optimised apps are also a huge factor when selecting a tablet. Android has been guilty of having scaled-up smartphone apps on the Google Play store many times before.

After owning an old preowned iPad 1, I instantly felt the need for more power in a thinner, lighter, more attractive package. The iPad 4 then replaced my dated iPad 1 which couldn’t run many apps without force closing. The Retina Display has become the industry standard today – with several even surpassing Apple’s efforts by including a Quad-HD screen into their smartphones (LG G3 for example). Revolutionary in 2010 (2012 for tablets) perhaps, but the quality of the screen still remains great to look at even today.

I did originally intend on getting an iPad Mini. The rumours of a thinner, lighter yet smaller and more affordable iPad sounded perfect to me. Particularly the more affordable part. Of course, the first generation iPad Mini came with too many limitations for me to be convinced. A two year old A5 chip with a non-Retina screen and 512MB RAM for a not-so cheap price when compared to its’ then competition? No thanks. With that in mind, I went for the iPad 4 and never looked back..

..Until a few months ago. My friend got an iPad Mini 2. After trying it out, I was slightly jealous. I became aware of how large and heavy the iPad 4 seemed. The performance improvement and overall better design were also tempting. Of course by this point the most recent iPad Mini – the iPad Mini 3 had been released. All that changed was the addition of a new gold colour and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the home button. No A8X chip or increase in RAM like the iPad Air 2. Heck, not even a A8 chip like those found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I was hugely disappointed with Apple’s efforts. Ignoring the Mini after the 2 was so successful? Frustrating.

The big decrease in price for the Mini 2 meant I was too tempted to resist. I ultimately sold my iPad 4 and purchased an iPad Mini 2. It’s a fantastic device that I use a lot more often than I did with my iPad 4. The added portability really does make a difference. Maybe not so much anymore with the Air series, but definitely compared to the older iPads.

Computer: MacBook Pro (Late 2011)

I’ve always been a Windows user. I enjoyed Windows. Sure it was slow after a while and viruses were much more common on the Microsoft OS, but it served its’ purpose as my everyday OS. Being familiar with several versions; XP, Vista, 7, 8 and even the Technical Preview of 10 – I was never bothered about Apple’s efforts. Why? Because Macs are expensive. Everyone knows this. Some argue you pay more for a all-round better machine, others state that you can purchase a much better spec’d Windows machine for the same price.

It was until I discovered a cheap MacBook on a selling website that I was content with Windows. Noticing that it had an Intel Core i7 processor (quad-core) rather than an i5 – even if it was an older model – I gave in. I’d never even properly used a Mac before, and there was I purchasing a still somewhat expensive couple-year old machine running an OS I had no idea how to use. Many people questioned my spontaneous, admittedly hasty decision.

Over a year later and I can say without hesitation that it is the best computer I’ve ever used. Mac OS X is a real pleasure to use. It makes the often slow, clunky OS that is Windows something that I don’t plan on using on a personal computer – unless of course Windows 10 is mind-blowing. I realise many dislike Macs due to their weaker gaming efforts, or simply because of their pricier nature. The keyboard, the trackpad, the screen, the OS, the build quality, the MagSafe charger, the speakers – everything oozes quality that I’ve yet to use on a non-Apple computer. I’m not necessarily a fanboy, I just appreciate Macs for what they are – outstanding computers. I hope, my bank depending, that I can continuously use Macs for good. This computer has served me incredibly well already; though I hope there’s many more years to come.

Reserve Computer: Samsung RV515 Laptop

My previous laptop before it was replaced by my MacBook. Now its’ used as a backup, and often an attempt to see if certain Mac-created content works on Windows. Currently it’s enjoying life running Windows 10 Technical Preview which is already a big improvement when compared to Windows 8. Its’ slowness has began to show however, thus resulting in it rarely been used for anything other than tests.

Consoles: Nintendo 3DS & Sony PS4

I’m a huge Pokemon fan as I’m sure some know. I also enjoy many other games Nintendo offers like the Super Mario Bros franchise. I’ve owned Nintendo handheld consoles since the Game Boy Colour – and will continue to do so as long as great games – particularly Pokemon – are being released.

In terms of the powerhouses, I’ve always owned the PlayStation consoles rather than Xbox. Purchasing a PS3 and indeed recently a PS4 was another one of my more easily-convinced-by-people hasty decisions. Regardless, I don’t regret either. The likes of FIFA, Skyrim and several others keeps me entertained for hours.

Conclusion

And thus wraps up the main tech I use on a regular basis. Of course, there’s other devices such as a Nintendo Wii, TV and all that jazz but I decided to instead focus on the main 4 categories. I hope you all enjoyed this first non-CP-related post and look forward to more. Of course you can also expect the Star Wars Rebels critical review within the coming week too. Stay tuned1

Until next time!

– Jimbobson