Club Penguin | Virtual Animal Games
Club Penguin is an online virtual world owned by Disney. In Club Penguin, players are represented by penguin avatars that they can customize, from adding hair, to adorning your avatar with a full outfit – there are so many possibilities. Once you enter the world, there are heaps of places to explore, including both public and private rooms, and also a bunch of mini-games that you can play. Club Penguin has a huge international audience, and is a great platform for kids to express themselves – and most importantly, it’s safe and well-moderated! Keep reading for a run-down of the positives and negatives of this game…
Club Penguin offers users a LOT of content. In the game, you can create your own room called an “igloo”, which you can decorate as you wish. There are plenty of creative items available, so there will be no shortage of options when you’re creating your room. To buy items, you will need some currency; in Club Penguin, the call it “gold”, and it’s absolutely free to obtain. You will just need to play mini-games to earn some!
Another positives are the mini-games that are available. If you go to the map screen, click on the “Games” button, and the screen will be filled with game titles that you can play – from Sled Racing to Hydro Hopper, there is sure to be something that you’d like! The mini-games are usually quite simple but fun, and some of them even offer a mulitplayer mode, so if you want to get competitive then you can go head-to-head with other players as well.
The game is quite intuitive with everything easily accessible – it doesn’t take much to figure out how to move between rooms and get into the action. When inside a room and attempting to chat, you will notice that you can only say certain word/phrases – the game is quite strict with moderation and what it will allow users to say. This is a good thing if you don’t want your child witnessing inappropriate chat or being abused by other players, but it also means that there is little freedom with self expression.
Now, onto the negatives! This is always my favorite part of writing reviews, ha! Okay so where we go… Even though Club Penguin is “owned” by Disney, it really doesn’t have any of Disney’s charm. If you think back to the glory days of VMK (Virtual Magic Kingdom), and then you compare the two games, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. It’s pretty clear to me that the game was developed by a third party, and it’s pretty common knowledge that Disney bought out Club Penguin for a ridiculous sum of money (we are talking $100 mil+ here!).
The graphics… Oh, do I have a lot to say about this! Being a designer myself, the graphics in Club Penguin look like they were whipped up as quickly as possible. If you take a look at the screenshot below, you will witness the horrible overuse of black lines, which makes everything look super busy. Quite frankly, it gives me a headache if I look at it too long. I can’t say that I am a fan of vector art, but this is taking it to a whole new level! The graphics are fun and colorful, but it really does end there. Minimal shading, minimal textures – it just looks like no effort was put into making the game easy on the eye. if we compare with the animal jam game, which had popular among the children with their animal jam membership codes, the game still can be better.
‘Nuff said about that, moving right along… let’s talk about the user interaction, or lack thereof! It’s great that Club Penguin allows you to make your own room, aka “igloo”, but there is no easy way of finding other igloos with people in them. Obviously, once you make a room, you want to show it off to other users, but the igloo list only shows ones that have received the most “likes”! Why don’t they show them in order of popularity based on how many people are in each igloo? I don’t get it…
Furthermore, as mentioned above, the lack of freedom when trying to communicate with other players is annoying. It’s fine if you’re just a kid – you’ll mostly just explore and play games, but what if you’re a little older and actually want to have a conversation with someone? If that’s the case, you should skip this game and try something else.
One last thing (otherwise I could keep going :P), is the fact that user/item interaction is very poor. For example, if I placed a seat item in my room, and then clicked on it, logically you would expect the avatar to sit within/on the item, right?… nope! You simply stand right on top of it. In addition, all the graphics look very flat, so there is very minimal depth perception in the game, which makes everything look a little lacklustre.
Club Penguin is a great casual game for those looking to kill some time by playing mini-games and decorating your own rooms. However, if you’re after a more community-orientated game where people can talk freely, then Club Penguin is not for you. Although it is backed by Disney, it lacks the “Disney” touch/magic, and doesn’t really compare to the stuff Disney has put out over the years. However, I must give credit where credit is due, and that is this… Club Penguin is one of the MOST popular virtual games on the internet right now, so they are obviously doing something right. Check it out and judge it for yourself!