[Beyond PlayStation] Penguin Wars Review
Penguin Wars from City Connection and Dispatch Games is a revamped take on the arcade classic from the 1980s. Learn more in our Penguin Wars review!
Penguin Wars was originally released in arcades back in 1985. In the game, you control a character at the bottom of the screen and must grab and launch balls at your opponent to hit it and deal some damage. You must also avoid the balls that your opponent throws your way. City Connection and Dispatch Games have taken the formula from the original game and revamped the graphics and the gameplay to include special attacks, special ball types, health bars, boss battles, and more, for what is a very fun arcade-style release on Nintendo Switch!
After a (rather long) loading period, Penguin Wars brought me to the main screen, from which I was able to select between the Story Mode, local Vs. Mode, online Vs. Mode, and Extra Mode. The two Vs. Modes are self-explanatory since you’ll be competing against other players, either in local multiplayer or by going online to battle against players from around the world. Extra Mode is an endless set of opponents until you end up being defeated, and depending on how long you manage to do this, you’ll be rewarded with some coins.
In Story Mode, you have to take on several matches that will vary from 1 vs. 1 battles to team battles in which you’ll have to defeat several enemies in a row. Once you’ve filled up the bar at the bottom of the screen from winning matches, you will get to take on a special boss battle. Win the boss battle, and you’ll get to travel to a new location where you’ll have to go over the same process once more. You’ll have some story cutscenes when you reach a boss fight, with some extra scenes after defeating it.
You’ll move your character around with the left analog stick or the D-Pad, picking up the ball and throwing it with the A button. You can charge up your attack with the Y button and dash into position with the B button. If you hit a ball by throwing one of your own, you will send back your opponent’s ball, potentially damaging it. There’s a timer on the top center of the screen, and you need to make sure that there aren’t many balls left on your side of the screen when the timer runs out, or else each ball will damage your character during the final tally! If you manage to be fast enough and send all balls into your opponent’s side, you will unleash an all-balls attack, dealing considerable damage that might end up defeating it with a barrage of spheres hitting it in one go.
As you win matches, you’ll be rewarded with coins and special lollipops. You can each the lollipops to boost your character’s stats. You can increase the ball’s speed, the ball’s power, your defense, and how quickly you can move around the playing field. I suggest that you increase your movement speed and the ball speed so that you can walk around at a faster pace and send balls rolling towards your opponent. The more you increase a stat, the higher the number of lollipops you need to eat to boost it again. The coins you have collected can be used at the shops that will pop up every now and then. In these, you can obtain power-ups, such as a force field that can block balls from hitting your character, which you can activate with the X button.
You can unlock more characters to play with as you progress through the game, and each character will have a different type of lollipop to collect so that you can upgrade that character. Starting character Riley, who is a penguin, will use star-shaped blue lollipops, while Jeff, a sheep that you’ll unlock after beating the first boss, will require cloud-shaped lollipops with colored candy bits to be able to upgrade its stats. Each character will also handle a little bit differently – for example, Jeff can’t dash – so be sure to experiment to see which character suits your playing style.
Penguins Wars turned out to be a very good take on the arcade original, revamped and improved for the 21st century on Nintendo’s console. It offers a lot of fun in single-player and multiplayer, keeping you coming back for more to complete “just one more battle.” Penguin Wars is out on Nintendo Switch, and you can get it on the Nintendo Switch eshop, or purchase a limited print run physical version straight from Dispatch Games either on the Nintendo Switch or on Sony’s PlayStation 4.
This Penguin Wars review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Dispatch Games.