Best Games - Penguin Kun Wars
Two tiny, adorable animals face each other grimly across an empty ping pong table. On both sides sit a lineup of brightly coloured balls. These are your weapons. When the whistle blows, the opponents will make a frenzied dash to whip the balls at other side of the table. All balls are in play. If a ball ends up on your side, you can pick it up and send it hurtling back. If one of the animals is struck with a ball, any ball, they will be dazed for a few seconds. If a dazed animal is hit again, the knockdown is extended. When the round timer runs out, and the final buzzer sounds, the player who has managed to end up with the fewest balls on their side, wins. Occasionally an iridescent slinky undulates across the table. That slinky is a dick.
In concept this is the simplest game in the world. If you have ever rolled pool balls back and forth across a pool table, you have played a version of Penguin Kun Wars. Since the fictional world of a video game obeys a strict set of rules, none of the looseness and unpredictable behavior of real physical objects exists. This is dodgeball or marbles or shuffleboard stripped to the very core. The game is iron hard.
Compared to its contemporaries, games from Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami, UPL created a spartan and dull looking game. There is very little in the way of graphical flourishes present in Penguin Kun Wars. The audio is basic and sounds largely lifted from other titles. It looks and sounds like a game several years older than it is, from a less technically capable time. Damning stuff, if the game didn’t play as tightly, as singularly focused as it does.
There are small interstitial mini games and additional wrinkles as you move from match to match in the tournament structure, but none of that really matters. All that matters is that you get those balls to the other side of the table. Roughly two rounds in, the tactic that seemed cheap and unsportsmanlike of continually pelting that poor animal across from you so they never get the chance to stand back up, becomes a basic survival skill. You would toss a knife at that cute, saucer eyed monster if you had it.
Penguin Kun Wars devolves this block coloured world full of stuffed toy creatures into a screaming, clawing death match, never once betraying the games internal violence through its presentation.
Play Penguin Kun Wars, and I defy you not to curse through your gritted teeth.
Penguin Kun Wars is one of the best games.