The Retro Critic

Penguin Wars

Forget Star Wars.

Talk about played out!

Ancient history.

Not to mention far, far away.

You know what’s not played out, though?


Penguin Rocket





Penguin Medium






Penguin Big



And that’s my review for this week.







lol Can you imagine if I ended the review like that?

Seriously though: let’s talk Penguin Wars.

It’s nearly Christmas and nothing says “Winter” more than penguins (and wars).

But what would a penguin ever fight about, you ask? I mean, they’re a friendly bunch and, apart from that one unpleasant dude in Gotham City, they’re also relatively peaceful. Unless you somehow drag a baby one into the sewers and strap rockets onto his back, it’s highly unlikely that penguins will go out late at night looking for trouble, chewing on tepid quesadillas at 4 in the morning, drinking Martinis and saying bad words your grandma would whip you in the neck for even thinking.

Or whatever the kids do these days.

As it turns out, penguins don’t mess around when it comes to their balls.

They’re, like, really attached to them.

The game, you’ve guessed it, is like an 8-bit version of an air hockey table tournament but with surprisingly competitive animals and all sorts of other forms of weirdness. In Europe, Penguin Wars was actually called King Of The Zoo since the winner of said tournament is eventually crowned just that. I’ll be looking at both the Game Boy and NES versions of the game but mostly the former since that’s the one I’m most familiar with.

Anyway, time to meet your rivals:

Char Select

This zoo really needs a better selection of animals.

Cows are in pretty much every field there is so that’s hardly an exciting pick. Rats are gross and too short to even pose for their picture properly, apparently. Then there’s that rabbit which, I should point out, looks like a goat. A Super Noah’s Ark 3D goat, might I add. The bat, however, makes perfect sense.

Because Batman.

There are a few more animals to choose from in the Arcade version but they’re also uninspired, I assure you.

But wait–


Char Definition

Sure thing!

*grabs another dictionary*

*looks up the word dictionary*


*wets self*

*continues review*

The game’s main concept is essentially genius: you take a quick look at the happy idiot you’re about to battle.

Rabbit Penguin Wars

Then you proceed to annihilate them by pummelling their faces with your balls until they can’t handle it anymore.

It’s easy enough at first, but soon enough you’ll be struggling to keep their balls at bay.

What do you say I include a screenshot of said balls since I’m getting worried you’ve been picturing animal testicles literally this entire time.

Penguin vs Rabbit

There are several techniques you can adopt while playing this game including deflecting your opponent’s balls with your own or striking while the iron is hot by constantly throwing balls at him when he’s down but be warned: each animal has its strengths and weaknesses so don’t go picking the cow if you’re looking for speed when running left and right around the table.

The aim is to get all your balls on the other side of the table or as many as you can under the time limit which may sound like a piece of cake but isn’t always, especially when some annoying thing interrupts your game.

Penguin Wars NES

This moving jellybean/worm really is a pain, adding an extra layer of challenge by waltzing onto the table like one of those dancing green blobs from the movie Flubber.

What even happened in that scene, by the way?

Is the Flubber alive? Does it have feelings? Can Flubber love, poop and watch Breaking Bad?

I wonder.

I also digress… let’s get back to the important stuff.

So those green worms are totally ruining my penguin ball games, you guys!

In the Game Boy version, a drunk moonwalking dog shows up and does the exact same thing. At first he pops up during a mini game but then he gets greedy and happily disturbs the actual tournament.

Drinking Dog

I’d be annoyed but the little guy’s adorable.

He’s got a drinking problem, I can’t stay mad at him!

I mean, what’s more cuddly than addiction?

Bears, I guess.

Bears that gamble their life savings away, especially.

In the NES version, the pressure is definitely on since you’re having your ball fight in front of a full-blown audience.

Audience Penguin Wars

By the way, I thought there was supposed to be a shortage of pandas.

Could it be they’re all just big fans of penguin-centric table sports and we just can’t find those super cute panda-packed stadiums?

The mini or “Bonus” games you face are good fun, breaking up the dodgeball-style main game nicely, never allowing it to get boring. Throwing your balls at a group of mischievous moles alone is an awesome way to spend a minute and a half.

Moles Penguin Wars

There’s something hugely satisfying about hitting your opponents with one of your balls. It shouldn’t be this much fun and yet it is.

It really is.

A Christmas wedding on your birthday with, as a cosplay theme, the films and TV work of Scott Bakula on the set of Lost (Season 5) is DULL compared to how good it feels to see a cow get balled.

Cow Penguin Wars

Cow Balled


I love it.

Please note, however: it’s nowhere near as fun when it happens to you and, believe me, it will happen to you.

A lot.

Penguin Down

Smug Rabbit

Darn smug rabbit.

In France we eat you! We eat you ALL!

(tastes like chicken)

In case you haven’t gathered yet, Penguin Wars is a really enjoyable piece of mindless competition. The game is easy to play and has a good sense of humour, plus it makes the best out of a simple yet effective concept.

Grab your balls, pick up a “char” and give those low-key pandas the war they paid for.

Merry… whatever this week’s about.

Penguin Out

Penguin out.