Penguins! Escape is a cute take on Lemmings, with little to offer upon completion.
Lemmings was a novel game during many a childhood, especially if you grew up in the golden age of PC gaming. It was a bizarre exercise in sending the helpless creatures to their death if you weren’t quick or savvy enough to figure out an escape route. It was gleefully morbid beneath the veneer of cuteness, and offered multiple enticing layers of strategy across several different games. WildTangent’s Penguins! Escape is a clone that takes the cuteness factor of Lemmings and ups the ante, by giving you hundreds of adorable little penguins marching along from a start point to an end point that you must safely get them to. It’s nearly the same game, but it’s adapted for iOS players and touch controls. And it’s actually quite fun.
Each level plays out very simply. You must guide all of your penguins from the start point of the level to the end point using several different types of architecture and tools: cannons, bounce pads, and more. You’re provided with these tools at the bottom of the screen, and you can click and drag them to the location you feel they’ll work the best. The penguins will automatically march from place to place, utilizing whatever you’ve set out for them without the need to goad them along.
If you set down a bouncy pad, they’ll hop on it, reach whichever ledge they get bounced to, and continue on, often shuffling back in the direction from which they came if you haven’t completed a course for them to follow. You’ll need to be quick-witted in order to get every single one to safety, and afterwards receive your sound reward: “yay,” “yippee,” and “whee!” from the thankful penguins. Seriously, it’s ridiculously cute.
The levels start out simply enough, and quickly ramp up in difficulty as you complete each stage. Run-of-the-mill players will just guide the penguins to safety, but to earn all three stars for each stage, you’ll want to grab all the bonuses scattered throughout for a better score. It can be tedious and time-consuming to go after these in-level rewards, but oh-so satisfying considering the trouble you have to go to in order to come out with a better score. The touch controls feel crisp and responsive, and you’ll barely even need to use them since your brain will have to do most of the work. This isn’t a game for those without patience.
Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of replay value or anything else in Penguins! Escape for that matter – once you’ve completed the levels, aside from going back in for a higher-score run on each level, there isn’t much to do, making it a one-trick pony. Luckily, what it does attempt it succeeds in, and that’s offering an adorable Lemmings-styled clone at an affordable price. It’s also great for younger players since it’s an excellent exercise in problem-solving, and it’s oh-so cute. Just don’t expect too much from it after it’s been completed.