Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-12-20 Nintendo DS Action/Adventure E10 (Everyone 10+) Disney Interactive / 1st Playable Productions

The child-friendly online virtual world of Club Penguin now comes to the DS, turning little gamers around the world into Elite Penguin Agents.

In Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force you play as a special agent on a series of missions in the snowy Club Penguin world. Waddling in and out of the different areas, the game is mainly a point-and-click adventure, but also with a bunch of fun mini-games that are simple enough for anyone of any age to play.

After picking a name and a color for your penguin, you can jump right into the adventure or attempt some of the available mini-games. I thought the adventure portion started off a little too sudden, with very little story to go on with, but it all made sense after solving the first mystery.

The adventure and interacting takes place on the touch screen, which shows the area you are currently in. On the top screen there's your penguin card, the coins you own and your current objective.

You talk to other penguins and discover little hints that tell you how to proceed. Your first task is to read the paper in the coffee shop, only to find a lost Puffle (a fuzzy little critter). In your search to find the owner for this pet, you discover four pieces of a puzzle signed with a "D". Putting the pieces together tells you the location of this "D", and that is where your job as and Elite Penguin begins.

Your main task will be to find out what happened to "G", the inventor who creates the agents' gadgets, but all over Club Penguin world there are people in need of help. Once you accept to help one of them, you can't accept another mission. You can still talk to other penguins, but those who have missions for you will say something like "I see you are busy now", so you must complete whatever mission you are doing first before taking on another. You also aren't allowed to shop while on a mission.

Once you receive your spy gadgets, you will have a bunch of handy things to help you in the missions. The Puffles themselves have special abilities, and you get a whistle that will summon what you need. There's a flashlight to illuminate dark spots, a mechano-duster to remove dust, dirt and more from certain objects, a decoder, a communicator to talk to other Elite Penguins, and more.

While exploring, you can interact with several objects, and some of them will reward you with a coin. Coins are used to purchase clothes and accessories for your penguin.

There are six mini-games that you can find in the world or just jump into any of them from the mini-games menu. Mini-games reward you with coins, which you can upload to your account.

Dance Challenge is played with the DS sideways, and it's basically Simon Says. On the left screen, a penguin will show you a dance move, which you must repeat on the touch screen. The more correct moves in a row, the higher your score. Snowboarding is a simple game where you must do the gestures indicated on the touch screen so that your penguin does the tricks while going downhill. Jet Pack Adventure has you strapped to a jet pack, dodging obstacles, picking coins and gas tanks so that you can continue flying. These three are also available to play in multiplayer mode.

The other three mini-games are single-player only. Ice Fishing has you sitting near a hole in the ice, lowering your bait to catch fish while avoiding sharks and other obstacles. For some reason, this was my favorite... Snow Trekker is similar to Jet Pack, but here you control a vehicle by steering on the touch screen. The vehicle changes between plow and boat modes to overcome obstacles. Cart Surfer is a mine cart ride that you can control either with the touch screen or the control pad. You need to lean left or right according to the turns, jump or sit down to avoid obstacles.

Packed in the game case comes a special code that gives you access to the Elite Penguin Force Command Room online (basically skipping the 30-day period that takes you to become a Club Penguin agent), and the downloadable content will bring polls, newsletters and new missions straight into your DS.

As far as presentation, I actually like the 2D look. The artwork is cute and there are little animations and sounds for the objects you can interact with.

While everything is very simple, I think the game would have been more friendly with less text and more voice. The mini-games' instructions are given by text and illustrations, which isn't so bad, but children might be turned off by the amounts of reading and dialog options that take place in the adventure portion of the game.

Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force is most appropriate for kids of reading age, and especially for those who already are familiar with the online game world.

Special thanks to Kathryn Green, Sunny Ing and Disney Interactive for providing a copy of this title.