I think this one has the longest titles for a Kinect game yet. Even with the long title, the summary doesn’t justify it. I thought the Penguins were cool in the movie, but this game and the cartoon both flop in my opinion, why the higher rating? Read on. It was not made for us adults.

When a diabolical dolphin tries to take over the world, it can only mean one thing: Time to call in Team Penguin! Use the power of Kinect to put yourself in the adventure and help the birds in black and white save the world. Join Skipper, Rico, Private, and Kowalski for a spy saga told through three in-game episodes. Solve puzzles, complete challenges, assemble bizarre spy gear, and defeat Blowhole and his lobster minions. You’ll need the talents of each penguin to complete your mission. Have more fun in kooky penguin mini-games like Ninja Knock-Down, a dance-off vs. King Julian, and Mort Bowling.

The Story

There was an actual cartoon about Dr. Blowhole that premiered around the same time this game was launched. I did not watch the full thing but my kids did. The actual TV episode seemed to have a ton of singing in it though, this game does not, I don’t recall if the story matched up or not but I really don’t think it did. You join the penguin team as a 5th penguin, new recruit. What I find funny though, as you play through the game you always play as the 4 normal penguins, this 5th penguin you supposably are is invisible to everyone except the other penguins. I don’t think there is a real plot to the game. However, all of their voices are in there which is a bonus for kids, they do seem to notice when voices don’t match up.

The Gameplay

Basically, you waddle around in a pre-determined route. Not only do you have to do this once, you do it several times taking different paths each time around. I have never seen so much repetitve play in a game yet. My guess is the developers either rushed this or they really ran out of ideas so it was decided to play the same course 2-3 times around per stage. You have a meter that you have to keep full or it makes you restart the level. To keep this meter full, you have to collect ice cream/candy. Ice cream/candy is everywhere. It can be in boxes that you have to smash open, places where you have to jump up and other sorts. As long as you keep your meter full you can finish each level. There’s also a lot of pausing in between gameplay as each section of the level triggers a story scene. Seriously, this is the whole game, a lot of creativity was not put into it.

There is a dance addition, but I believe its the songs from the episode, they aren’t normal songs. One mode is red light, green light, where you just have to dance until Julian says stop. The faster you stop, the more points you get. The other dance mode is to match Julian’s poses.

The dance off with Julian!

Unfortunately I was so bored with it I couldn’t complete it and the kiddo had detection issues so he couldn’t finish it either.

Kinect Functionality

Kinect worked for the most part, simple actions do simple things. Your penguins are constantly on the move, all you have to do is steer them by leaning left or right. You can jump, which makes the penguins hop. You can also smash things by punching/swiping your hands. There are some extras that they added though, probably not to completely bore them. One is a balance beam which is fairly simple, you just hold your arms and maintain balance. The way it works makes no sense however, there is a marked area which is typically all the way left or all the right, you have to keep your meter within this area, so if it’s all the way right, then you just have to lean to the right. Not really much skill involved, but then again, I think the target crowd for this title is 5-8 years old.

There’s also some other actions such as in order to blow up a wall, you have to pretend to throw a bowling ball. There’s certain holes you need to get through and this requires certain poses which flash on the screen. Simply match the pose and you make it through. There is a targeting system in the game as well, which I thought was kind of backwards, but you aim with left or right hand and throw with the same hand. You also have to duck to get through small spaces and to make really long jumps, jump and flap your arms like a chicken. The good thing is the game is VERY forgiving and as long as you do the required action somewhat correct, it will pass you through.

I did run into an issue with Kinect and I’m not sure if its just buggy or what, but for whatever reason it detected me fine, my 7 year old, not so much. It had all kinds of issues with him jumping and leaning and everything, but again he could have been not doing it right.

Conclusion

These games are VERY hard to rate from an adult’s point of view because they aren’t meant for us and we aren’t meant to enjoy them and they usually aren’t very good. However, have you noticed how kids can just watch the same cartoon/movie over and over and over, they don’t care if it repeats, its just normal to them. They can never get enough. This is what I feel about this game, even though my real rating on this would be a 3, the kids love it and will probably play it over and over and over! I rated it a 5 because this review is more for parents looking to buy games for their kids. I wanted parents to be aware of the problems I noticed with it, and make an educated decision. If your kids can be patient, I would wait until the price drops or a patch comes out, but I see this game making it around to a lot of children’s stockings this christmas.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again!
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?