ATTACK OF THE MUTANT PENGUINS
The way I pictured this game is honestly nothing like how it really is. Somehow I figured it would be more difficult to play, or that it would be harder to understand, but it's truly easy to get the hang of. You control either Bernard or Rodney: two funky looking little dudes, one armed with a frying pan, the other with a baseball bat, both out to save the world from the alien invasion.
As for the aliens, well, it seems that they tuned into an Earth wildlife show , figured that we all looked like penguins, and so they devised a plan to land on Earth disguised as penguins to fool us into thinking they were just like us. However, they also brought along their weapon of mass-destruction, the Doomscale. On one side of the scale are good Earth penguins, while on the other side, there are alien penguins. If the aliens tip the scale too far to their side, they land on a button that activates the Doomscale and destroys Earth. On some levels, they even have a machine they go through that transforms them from their penguin disguise back into the green, slimy, ugly-looking, mutant penguins they really are before they jump on the Doomscale. The mutants are harder to kill, and they weigh more on the scale as well. That's a very bad thing.
You might have figured out by now that your job is to somehow prevent the aliens from reaching the Doomscale, destroying them one-by-one until they are all gone and the level is clear. To start bashing the alien penguins, you will need to arm yourself. Bernard's main weapon is a frying pan, while Rodney's is a bat. To obtain either weapon, you must pick up little fuzzy gremlins that try to run from you, drop them on bonus chests, which then open revealing anything from special weapons like dynamite and glue, to the letters that spell out your main weapon. For instance, to get your pan, you must open the three chests containing the letters 'P', 'A' and 'N'.
Once you have a weapon, it's time to go penguin-bashing. As you hit the alien penguins, power orbs fly out of them that you must collect to increase the power of your weapon, even earning weapon upgrades if you grab enough orbs in time. Once you are powerful enough, your hits destroy the penguins rather than just stunning them. Be careful though, since you can also accidentally hit the good Earth penguins who are on your side!
Besides the main weapons, there are also machines you can build to destroy the aliens more easily, such as the Spike-Shafter or the Chopper. You can also blow the aliens up with the sticks of dynamite you find in the bonus chests, or even lay down the sticky glue that stops the aliens in their tracks for awhile. Plus, there are levers you can switch that change certain signposts and can help point the aliens in the wrong direction, buying you a little time to find the weapons to destroy them with.
While the first level is pretty straightforward, the levels get increasingly more difficult all the way up to level 11. One nice feature of the game is that you can tour the level before you start play in the 'Peek Mode', allowing you to see where the bonus chests are, where the Doomscale is, where you might need to cross a bridge to get to certain weapons, etc. There's even an in-game tutorial that activates when you come across a new feature to help guide you along. It's especially helpful for beginners. After you finish a level, there's a special bonus game that could best be described as a cross between Space Invaders and Galaga, mixed with a lot of caffeine! The more 'space invaders' you shoot down, the more bonus points you earn before heading to the next level.
Not everything about the game is great. There's no music playing during the levels, and despite the fact that it gets more challenging to find your weapons as you go along, the gameplay can seem repetitive after awhile. However, there are enough options available along the way to likely prevent you from becoming bored with the game.
With so few games left to come out for the Jaguar, finding something like Attack of the Mutant Penguins is a real joy. More titles like this a couple years ago might have helped prolong the life of the Jag, but nonetheless, Sunrise Software did a great job with it, and like most of the recent Jag offerings, Mutant Penguins is a quality game. If you come across it, don't pass it up. Who knows when you might see it again?