At one point in the history of online gaming, someone invented the word “Pwn”, a slang-based, leet-speak version of the word “Own”, in order to indicate dominance or complete ownership over something or someone. Fast forward a little further, and we come to games like Polar PWND 2. This flash game is a sequel to the original physics-based puzzle game, and with an improved look and new puzzles to tackle, it’s ready to give players some more penguin-pwning to do. The object is, as ever, to shove into all of the penguins on the screen with you, a supposedly rabid polar bear, as the main character who’s doing all the pwning. This is a charming, well-designed game well worth the review given to it below.
As is to be expected from a physics-based puzzle game, the gameplay conventions themselves utilised within are pretty standard. After a helpful tutorial showing you the ropes, you’re thrust into the game’s many levels, each presenting you with increasingly difficult puzzles for you to solve. These are physics puzzles, meaning that you need to utilise the objects available to you around the environment in which the puzzles are taking place. This environment seems to be a military base: you’re the soviet polar bear, and your aim is to solve each puzzle in order to allow the polar bear to shove the target penguins in order to win each level.
Controlling the game is a simple affair. You use the mouse to select objects, manipulate their orientation in space, and also to click on the many buttons such as the “Start” button, which initiates each puzzle to see if your arrangement/use of the objects will be successful or not.
Though not a puzzles in the conventional sense, such as the sublime tile-puzzle game Continuity, the action here certainly presents you with increasingly difficult scenarios to overcome. The aim of each puzzle remains the same: to knock out/over the target penguins. However, the method by which you do this changes with each level, and also becomes more complex as you progress through the game.
The tutorial levels are supremely simple, asking you to perform the simplest of tasks. For these you simply have to do things like place a bomb behind the polar bear, which, when the “Start” button is pressed, ignites itself and explodes after it burns through its fuse. Another tutorial level requires that you place a ramp and flip it so that it bridges a gap in the ground which would otherwise have trapped the Polar Bear and rendered the level un-completed.
It doesn’t remain this simple for long, though, since the puzzles become more complex and require increased ingenuity to overcome. As you proceed, you’ll unlock different items that must be used to complete the progressively more difficult puzzles presented to you. Later in the game you’ll be using rockets, platforms, and balloons, arranged in a very specific manner, in order to blast, bomb, and generally encourage the polar bear into the right position and in the right direction to complete the levels.
The game’s design is best described as simple, but not rudimentary by any means. It’s clearly a game produced with flash, and has the relatively flat textures indicating this, but the polar bear, penguin, and general level designs are quite intricate and are presented in a pleasant cartoonish style. The soviet theme that’s seen throughout – the tutorial sections, for example, pop up and run in the style of an old-timey safety warning/infomercial with grainy/stuttering acetate-film effect – is pleasant and adds a sense of humour to the game’s proceedings.
One of the things that could be changed about the game, however, is its interface. It isn’t exactly bad, since using the mouse is fairly simple and you’ve got all of the options available to you on the bottom of the screen. However, the screen is fairly busy and the tutorial/hint items seem to blend in too well with the level design, meaning it can be a few seconds before you realise what you have to do or what you’re even looking at. There should be handy keyboard shortcuts for manipulating/cancelling objects, too, and the interface should be more efficient and intuitive as it is in fellow penguin game Learn to Fly 2.
Most will be willing to let these minor flaws fly, however, since in all other areas this is a highly enjoyable flash game. The Polar Bear-Penguin nemesis motif is also highly enjoyable, yet this isn’t the only game out there with arctic themes and penguin involvement. You can easily find entire websites and flash-game collections in fact, with more penguin games of a similar nature at penguingame.org like Penguinz and Penguins Attack TD 2.