Pros: Competent design, a couple of good songs.
Cons: Repetitive, useless story, budget feel.
Penguins have long been seen as stiff, waddling creatures, but the movie Happy Feet asked, what if a penguin had grace and a rhythm and a desire to dance. The movie sequel, Happy Feet 2: The Video Game, probably has a similar concept, but the rhythm/puzzle game of the same name feels more like the waddling penguins of a nature documentary than the graceful dancers of the films.
Developed by: KMM Games
Published by: Warner Bros.
Genre: Puzzle/Rhythm Game
For ages: All
Release Date: Nov. 8 2011
The Basics: Seek Penguins, Clap, Repeat
The game’s story is a tedious one told flatly with still drawings and dialogue, and there’s really no good reason to watch it. Suffice it to say, you take the role of a penguin and have various missions to complete.
The game mainly consists of slowly and rather awkwardly trudging through the frozen wilderness gathering fellow penguins. Penguins will not respond to a simple, “hey you, follow me,” but instead require you to come near them and clap to the beat of a song. Enough well timed claps and that penguin will follow you around. Sometimes you have to break ice blockages with big stomps, plug geysers or perform other tasks to clear a path to the next penguin. Once you’ve gathered all the penguins on a level you can move on to the next, where you do the same thing with little variation.
This is most of the game. Bouncing musical notes scattered around the levels can be collected in order to unlock more of the game’s forgettable songs, and some of these notes can be found by breaking ice formations with your stomp. Occasionally a new wrinkle is added, as when levels start containing big birds that must be stomped away, but for the most part levels blend one into another with little variation and no real challenge, with puzzles barely deserving of the name. This may be fine for the game’s target audience of young children, who at least won’t be frustrated, but it is certainly not going to be very entertaining for anyone over the age of 10.
Gameplay Extras: Nothing Special
There are two other game modes that turn up from time to time. One is a race in which you slide down icy paths avoiding rocks and gaining speed by jumping ramps. Unlike the penguin-gathering missions, these races are actually rather difficult, and mildly - very mildly - fun. You are not actually required to win the race to proceed to the next level, which is just as well as I would have had to replay them a couple of times to do so, and that is more bother than they are worth.
The last mode is a rhythm game in which you have to press the correct button in time with a beat. The game is very forgiving, and you only have to come close to the right beat, but these sections still should offer some challenge to the young and the rhythmically challenged.
The Verdict: Left Me Cold
The odd thing about Happy Feet 2 is that while it is centered around music, with rhythm sequences, bouncing musical notes and a variety of songs in a variety of styles, the game feels strangely arrhythmic. There is never a sense, even in the middle of a rhythm section, that you are really grooving along. A good rhythm game makes you a part of the music; this one never quite hits the beat.
There is nothing horrendously wrong with Happy Feet 2. The game is functional and generally competent and I can’t say I ever really minded playing it, but ultimately it is as graceless as a land-locked penguin.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.