All I need to tell you about Learn to Fly is the basic premise, and you are in. Ready? Here goes: You play as a penguin, who after reading on Wikipedia about how his species can’t fly, is hellbent on learning how to fly, via sledding and rockets and gliders.
I must admit, it is the best premise I have heard for a game involving penguins, although its only competition is probably Attack of the Mutant Penguins for the long-gone Atari Jaguar. As you can imagine, the programmers at Light Bringer inject some personality into the proceedings with small, funny cut scenes involving the continuing progress of your penguin.
The actual game aspect of Learn to Fly relies on physics, a la Droplets. You launch your penguin down a hill as fast as you can, with the goal of soaring through the air as much as you can. You get various amounts of cash based on the speed you achieve, the distance you fly and the highest height you hit. The “stages” are based on surpassing these various benchmarks.
As you progress and save money, you can purchase various upgrades for your penguin, ranging from the relatively-benign glider to items that seem like cheating for our young penguin, like a rocket pack and fuel. But, well, he’s pretty cute, so who am I to deny him?
Control is simple enough. Your penguin is automatically started, and the arrow keys tip him forward, backward, up and down while he is going through the air. As I previously mentioned, the game relies on realistic physics. If you just jam on the up key, your penguin will just shoot straight up and get very little distance. Learn to Fly rewards players who think carefully, as opposed to button-mashers.
If there is a complaint to be had against Learn to Fly, it would be its relative simplicity. Once you get the hang of having your penguin fly off the ramp at the proper angle, and how to have him soar through the air for maximum distance, there isn’t much left to explore and play around with.
Still, the experience tided me over for a couple hours on a slow weekend, and Learn to Fly has a breezy, fun feel that makes it perfect for a casual gaming fan to just pick at for a bit without investing too much stress. And also, there simply aren’t enough games that feature penguins, the sharp-dressed man of the Animal Kingdom.