The Forgotten: Penguin Wars - Destructoid

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11:48 AM on 09.15.2009

I sucked at the tit of Game Boy as a child. My brother got the shiny new NES when he was 7 and I was about 4, and I got stuck playing as Luigi forever after.

(Sidebar: I have actually developed an affinity for Luigi, but that's for another post.)

Anyway, my time came a couple of years later when I got my Game Boy for Christmas. I lapped up Tetris, Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2 and many more like a wino who's smashed his bottle on the sidewalk. But there's one game that I completely forgot about until this month's Monthly Musing topic came up: Penguin Wars.

This little beauty made my childhood a better place and a living hell at the same time. It's essentially Hot Potato, but with balls and animals instead of potatoes. Or heat. The object is, at the end of one minute, to have thrown more balls over to your opponent's side of the court than he has thrown to your side. Each player gets five balls. You can also win by getting all of your balls over to the other side. There was a minimal strategic element; you could charge your ball to unleash a shot capable of crippling your opponent for a short time, and as well there were sometimes obstacles in the middle of the court.

Simple by today's standards, but as a 6 or 7 year old, this was just the kind of fast-paced, button-mashing gameplay I was looking for. I didn't have to collect anything or manage hit points -- I just had to hit the buttons faster than the computer could.

And I got good at it. It took me a while, but I eventually beat all the game's challengers: the Rabbit, the Cow, the Rat, and the fucking Bat. I think my childhood temper can probably be blamed squarely on the shoulders of that Bat. Somehow my Game Boy was never harmed in the outrages that resulted. I was always the Penguin. Why wouldn't I pick him? His name's on the game for crying out loud, he must be the best one. I wonder if that bit of 6-year-old logic still applies today.

I literally spent hours pummelling the critters into submission. Landing a charge shot on the Bat was one of the great achievements of my childhood.

It was simple but it kept me out of my parents' hair for who knows how long. It's a shame this franchise seems to have disappeared. I'd buy some sort of XBLA or DS update in a heartbeat. It would have to be fleshed out a little, but that wouldn't be terribly difficult to do. It would be one example of the force-fed nostalgia that seems to be all the rage these days that I could get behind wholeheartedly.

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