Saturday, April 14, 2007

Penguin Kun Wars

Along with every other retrogaming geek who follows blogs on the subject, I found out this week about, a site that bypasses the clumsiness of vintage console emulation and instead allows you to play old Nintendo Entertainment System ROMs in a Java application that opens up right in your browser window.

In short, I can play the beloved Nintendo games from my childhood anywhere that I have speedy internet access. And not just the big titles, but obscure, old stuff like Mickey Mousecapade or Little Nemo: The Dream Master, neither of which the majority of people reading this now will probably recognize but which, time provided, they might enjoy. What’s additionally great is that allows me access to a whole library of old Nintendo titles that I even my better-allowanced couldn’t. Two words: “Japanese games.”

I’ve had vague awareness of old games that for whatever reason — goofiness, large amounts of text needing to be translated, inappropriate content of a sexual nature, the presence of heathen religious icons, or just astounding shittiness — never crossed to American shores. That has all changes. As such, I will be profiling some of the more entertaining Japanese-only games here for as long as it takes for Nintendo to shut this website down

Today: Penguin Kun Wars, which makes about as much sense as the title would imply. In a nutshell:
  • You are a penguin.
  • You throw purple balls across a table at another woodland creature, the object of which being to get all the balls off your side of the table.
  • At the match’s midway point, a glowing boomerang will begin spin across the table for no apparent reason.
With that setup, I feel okay not paying to play this game. The screenshots really do the Penguin Kun Wars justice.

The title screen. Me: "Sure, I'll play this." I was three years old. Also, that's ASCII the video game company, with no formal relation to the character set.

What you, the apparent penguin, are up against: quite a few yellow bear- or mouse-looking creatures, about as many pandas, exactly three koalas and two of what I think might be a Japanese programmer's notion of what a beaver looks like.

Of course, within moments of the match beginning, the penguin is beaned by a ball and knocked unconcious. He screams in agony. The yellow bear-mouse is merciless.

No matter. This penguin can muster the strength to overcome the schemes of what is the game's easiest enemy.

And then, for no apparent reason, the bear-mouse follows the penguin for a bonus round. In space. Floating UFOs track the characters' movements, thus preventing both penguin and bear-mouse from catching or throwing balls.

No points were awarded in the bonus round.

And then Mr. Penguin moves up in the world. Curiously, each of the bear-mice seem to have lost in the first round, I'm guessing as a result of their having wasted energy pondering why and what they are.

Short but sweet. The match nature never intended — penguin vs. panda — ends in humilation for the former. And in front of such beautiful, symmetrical snowcapped mountains, too.

Not wanting to watch my penguin be reduced to tears again, the window is closed. Penguin Kun Wars will not be played again.

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