Who doesn’t love penguins? Konami sure does, or used to anyway. Stand out titles like Antarctic Adventure and Penguin Adventure come to mind. Penguins also feature prominently in Parodius, the goofy spinoff to the Gradius series. And then we have Yume Penguin Monogatari.
In the game, you play as Penta, an overweight penguin whose girlfriend, Penko, has decided that you have become too fat for her liking. The opening cutscene shows Penko in the arms of another, much cooler (and slimmer) penguin named Ginji while Penta stuffs his face with sweets.
He doesn’t look like a nice guy.
Penta goes on a quest to lose weight and win back his love, but Ginji checks him every step of the way. Throughout the stages, Ginji’s minions throw food to make Penta tip the scales again. According to Wikipedia, the game is unique in its handling of obesity: “it’s making the distinction that being overweight is not a positive action.” It then quickly points out in the next sentence that the game never came out in the US. Just what are you implying, Wikipedia?
Our thoughts exactly, Penta
If you come into contact with any of the tasty morsels the enemies are throwing your way though, Penta’s weight will increase. The effects go beyond just the weight bar, though. Penta will physically grow fatter and slower as he consumes food, changing his normal kick attack to an awkward belly flop.
Conversely, losing more weight beyond the target will make you slimmer and faster. Instead of a simple kick, Penta gains the ability to shoot little ぽ (po) symbols out of his mouth. I think this is just meant to be the sound effect for the action, but it’s really funny to see. Obviously having this ability makes taking out enemies much easier.
Released in 1991 for the Famicom in Japan, Yume Penguin Monogatari features classic 2D platforming mixed with various stages of side-scrolling shoot ’em up action. Being a late title in the Famicom lifespan, the colors are vibrant and the controls feel smooth.
The stages are all pretty straight forward. You move left to right to find the phone at the exit of the stage. There, you’ll call Penko to check in with your diet progress. A bar at the bottom of the screen tracks that progress. Each stage has a “target weight.” By beating enemies and collecting energy drinks, you can drop those pounds and make yourself more attractive.
Can I get your number?
As I mentioned earlier, the platforming stages are all pretty straightforward. A variety of themes and enemies sprinkle each stage to keep things spicy. There are some vertical sections where you need to jump up to different platforms. These are actually the most interesting areas, reminding me of the second stage in Contra where you have to jump up the waterfall.
In between these platforming areas, Penta takes flight and the game turns into a horizontally scrolling shooter. These were my favorite stages, as shoot ’em ups are some of my favorite games (we’ll get to them some other time).
Who are you calling a pig?
Pleasant music keeps your head bobbing through the adventure, and a lot of the melodies got stuck in my head after playing. Heck, the stage 1 theme is stuck in my head right now as I’m typing this.
Yume Penguin Monogatari isn’t a very long or challenging game. There are 7 stages in all, and it will probably take you about 30 – 45 minutes for one playthrough. It’s a game with a ton of charm, though, so it’s really easy to come back to again and again.
As with all the games I write about in these articles, Yume Penguin Monogatari is a Japan-only release. There are used copies on eBay. A standalone cart will run you in the $35-$40 range, but complete, boxed copies are well over $100. It’s definitely a game that’s worth checking out. Now, drop that cream puff and start playing some video games, fatty.
Have you played this game? Or know any other penguin-themed games that are worth checking out? Let us know about it in the comments.