Sunday, 17 November 2013

REVIEW - Waimanu (Nintendo DS & GBA Homebrew)

Flightless wonder

I'm a sucker for any game featuring penguins (or ducks for that matter). I don't know why, but from Penguin Adventures on MSX and Penguin Land on the Master System, to the gluttonous shenanigans of Yume Penguin Monogatari on the Famicom, I have found the flightless fowl to bring a delightfully cute air to any game. Waimanu - named after a prehistoric form of penguin - continues this trend by featuring a super cute blue penguin with an apparent affliction of gigantism, such is the monsterous proportions of his forehead. Despite this handicap, he still manages to star in his very own homebrew puzzle game on the Nintendo DS and, more recently believe it or not, the Gameboy Advance. Waimanu is a single screen puzzler with a top down maze view, much like the original Sega penguin arcade game Pengo, released in 1982, in which you must push blocks of ice - and later bales of hay, or rocks , depending on the backdrop - into the enemy blobs that patrol the maze. Pushing a block will cause it to slide in that direction until it hits another block or the sides of the maze and, should any enemies stray into its path they will be squished - the annilhilation of all on-screen foes resulting in victory.

Gameboy Advance version

The enemies can be quite tricky to lure into the pathway of a block you are ready to push, and they can also melt the pushible blocks dotted around the screen, reducing the number of chances to have to squash them. There are also three star blocks dotted around each stage which, if lined up together via some thoughtful block manipulation, award large score bonuses. It is simple, yet addictive stuff - as all good puzzle games should be - but it has one, fairly major, flaw in that it has no saves or continue option. Game over means starting from scratch every time, and with a large number of levels between each change of background, you will get sick to death of seeing the initial ice world.

Nintendo DS version

Nevertheless, Waimanu is worth a shot. It has colourful, almost 16-bit style graphics, catchy little ditties that accompany your maze based antics and, of course, the addition of your lovable penguin pal. Waimanu is a charming and enjoyable game that is perfectly suited to the handheld platform. Both the DS and GBA versions are identical bar improvements to the aesthetics in the more powerful DS version, but both are equally enjoyable.

Title : Waimanu
Developer : Disjointed Studio 
Year : 2013
System : DS & GBA
Price : Free