Air Penguin for Android: Flightless but not Funless

By Stuart Houghton on at

The public's fascination with cartoonish birds flying through the air in non-standard ways continues apace with Air Penguin -- a bouncy top-down platformer that nods towards some classic games of yesteryear.

Without wishing to drag Giz UK into a scientific/political controversy, global warming is DEFINTELY real and here is the evidence. The plucky penguin at the heart of Air Penguin has seen his Antarctic home broken up into free-floating icebergs by climate change and now must use his ability somersault in the air and skate across pack ice to traverse the ice floe in search of stranded friends and family. We'd like to see Big Oil argue with facts like those.


How does it play?

Air Penguin does away with onscreen controls in favour of using the accelerometer. You simply tilt the phone to move your penguin around in any direction. Exactly how you move depends on what you are standing on. If you are on packed ice you can skate around, avoiding crevasses. If you are standing on an iceberg island you can somersault to the next 'berg by tilting and can then finesse the direction of your leap with a further tilt or two.

Despite you being a penguin -- a famously aquatic bird that swims the way other birds fly -- contact with the sea will kill you and end your game. Occasionally you will see a turtle and can leap onto its back before steering it across stretches of water, avoiding sharks as you go.

Jumping on an iceberg will cuse it to crack and a second landing will shatter it, plunging you to your doom. Some 'bergs come pre-cracked, so much care is needed.

As you navigate the ice you can grab fish by skating, jumping or sailing near them. We say 'near' as you don't have to be pixel-perfect, which is a good thing as you often need to do tricky mid-air direction changes to grab a fish while avoiding a collapsing iceberg. These fish act as a currency for the game so you can buy powerups and new characters like a fearsome polar bear. If grabbing all the fish is a chore then you can use actual currency -- just like its iPhone version, Air Penguin is a freemium title that is more than happy to sell you game-world goodies for real-world £££s.


Why do we like it?

Air Penguin is fast moving, well presented and the controls feel intuitive and just right. The levels are short and the action varied enough that you won't get bored and the game ramps up its difficulty at a steady pace, keeping you on your toes (ok, flippers) with tricky
island layouts and evilly-placed sharks.

We are showing our age here, but the jumping sections of the game remind us of classic Commodore 64 game Bounder, which has the same top-down jumping style and is a game we have often thought should have been updated.

Air Penguin is simple, fast and fun and, (unfortunately for Gamevil's business model) addictive enough that we were happy to keep playing and earning those fish ourselves rather than dropping some cash.

Air Penguin is available as a free download from the Android Marketplace