Ikasuze! Ai No Doki Doki Penguin Land MD
Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
We haven’t done any research to confirm this, but we’d suspect that most gamers outside of Japan don’t know that Penguin Land was a trilogy – and that’s if they’re even aware of the comparatively widely-known Master System version in the first place. That’s something that can easily be forgiven, though. The first game came out on the SG-1000 and MSX, platforms of limited note in Western markets, and the final game (that’s this one here) was released through the Sega Meganet service, which allowed modem-owning Mega Drive owners to download games.
That’s a shame, because this cute little puzzle-platformer might be infuriating, but it’s also really quite good. As in the previous games, your goal is to drop an egg safely through downward-scrolling stages – this means not letting it fall too far, not falling on it when it can’t roll away, not letting it get crushed by mechanical spikes, and definitely not letting any angry polar bears near it. Luckily, your penguin has the ability to manipulate blocks in the stage – there are movable stone ones, ice blocks you can peck through, and even cracked blocks which only temporarily break your egg’s fall.
Though the visuals are pretty simplistic, mostly due to the need to keep the download size manageable on a 1200 bit per second modem, the gameplay is tightly designed – this could easily have made for a nice budget release on cartridge. As it stands though, your best way to play this now is to find a copy of Game No Kanzume Vol. 2 for the Mega-CD, a compilation of various Sega Meganet games.