Players often run into long-standing engagements in video games, perhaps never really grasping what is going on or what every fight entails. Penguin Wars is returning to modern consoles in a big way. But, with so many entries in the series referred to as simply Penguin Wars, it may be difficult to tell what is different. Fortunately, we are here to look through the series’ timeline and better understand what happens in each tournament.
In the beginning…
1985, Arcade, MSX, NES
The original Penguin-Kun Wars, which never appeared outside of Japan, was a rather rudimentary affair. People played as a penguin, known as Penguin-kun, in a series of dodgeball matches where the goal was to either get all of 10 balls, or the majority of them, on the opponent’s side. Penguin-kun would climb a bracket, hopefully succeeding in four matches to reach the top of the heap. It eventually also appeared on the NEC PC-8801, Fujitsu FM-7, Sharp X1 and Sharp MZ-2500.
Penguin-kun Wars 2
The second Penguin Wars game was exclusive to the MSX. It took a decidedly different approach than the original by adding in something of a story. The game begins with people choosing Penguin-kun or Penpy, a pink, female penguin, as their avatar. One of the two is abducted at the outset. The penguin you chose needs to visit multiple worlds, engaging in dodgeball battles with different species in each one, as they go on a quest to save their significant other.
Introducing, more species!
1990, Game Boy
Penguins were only the first step. Penguin-kun ignited a flame, which led to more animals being included as playable characters in the series. In addition to our flightless friends, bats, cows, rabbits and rats were officially welcomed into the tournament. Each one has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, like the bat is fast, but weak, and the cow is slow, but strong. Brackets and a more traditional tournament model were abandoned for the Game Boy release, with players picking one character, then facing the ones that were not chosen.
The mobile adaptation of Penguin Wars brought in details from the original titles and Game Boy release. People choose their avatar, with bat, cattle, mouse, penguin, and rabbit as options. The tournament-style organization option returned, with people able to go through matches and see who their opponents might be as they move through the bracket.
Stepping into the modern day.
2018, Switch and PS4
The most recent Penguin Wars is a flashier one. Rather than going with what appears to be a more formal setting, the newest release is disco-themed. There are single and multiplayer options, with the solo mode involving a penguin named Riley and his journey around the world. He builds a team with characters from different species along the way, and all of the characters can have stats enhanced with candy.