Crazy Penguin Wars is a new Facebook game from Digital Chocolate. The title is heavily inspired by Team 17’s popular Worms series, itself set to arrive on Facebook later this year, and is currently showing up as the No. 20 top gainer by MAU on the social network.
Crazy Penguin Wars is, like Worms, a turn-based action-strategy game in which up to four players compete against one another for supremacy on a destructible landscape. Participants take turns to make use of a selection of physics-based weaponry to battle their opponents while (hopefully) ensuring they don’t damage themselves.
The game structure differs slightly from Worms, which is based on two or more teams of four worms each battling until only one player survives. Crazy Penguin Wars, conversely, sees each player controlling only a single penguin and scoring points for successfully damaging an opponent. When the match timer expires, the player with most points wins. Reducing an opponent’s health to zero provides an additional score bonus to the killing player, but the defeated penguin simply respawns at a random location on the map rather than that player being “out” as in Team 17’s title.
Players always have access to two basic weapons: a physics-based bazooka and a close-quarters punch. Using soft and hard currency, players are able to purchase additional consumable weapons with which to attack their opponents. Some of this weaponry is level-locked, but can be unlocked early through the expenditure of hard currency. Players are also able to purchase “booster” items using soft and hard currency as well as customize their penguin with various clothing items and accessories.
The trouble with Crazy Penguin Wars’ approach to monetization is that it veers perilously close to a “pay to win” scenario, which is rarely popular with highly competitive players. While it is possible for free players to win using only the basic weaponry, it is significantly easier to do so using the premium items — particularly the boosters. This makes the game feel a little unbalanced if free players are competing against those who have paid. It also goes somewhat against the nature of Crazy Penguin Wars’ inspiration Worms, in which player skill, not who has the most weaponry, determines the victor.
Leaving comparisons to Worms aside for a moment, Crazy Penguin Wars is a decent-quality Facebook game, and its synchronous multiplayer mode appears to work well, with plenty of opponents available to compete against. It’s also possible for players to practice against computer-controlled opponents or to set up private matches against friends, though there’s no option for asynchronous play. This isn’t a huge issue due to the fact that Crazy Penguin Wars matches take a couple of minutes at most, but the option would be nice for those who prefer to play in even shorter bursts.
Crazy Penguin Wars is a fun multiplayer game, but the true test of its quality will come when Team 17’s official Facebook take on Worms launches later this year. There’s no firm date on when we can expect this as yet, but once it launches it’s entirely possible current Crazy Penguin Wars players will jump ship to the game that offers “the genuine article,” as it were. For now, though, Crazy Penguin Wars is a good game that makes good use of simultaneous multiplayer — something we’re starting to see a lot more of in social games.
A decent-quality multiplayer game, though one that is likely to be eclipsed when its clear inspiration Worms launches on Facebook later this year.