Pengo is a great little 8 bit puzzle arcade game, and whilst not as big or well known as some of the other classic 8 bit video game titles.
However, it developed somewhat of a cult following amongst players after its release by Sega in 1982 (developed by Coreland).
Taking place in an overhead maze (of ice blocks), the title hero penguin, Pengo, must slide blocks into blob looking enemies to clear each stage.
One of the things that Pengo is most remembered for is its background music.
It was a a catchy little rendition of the ‘pop corn’ synth instrumental which plays throughout the game.
Having not played Pengo for almost two decades I recently gave it a whirl and it is certainly more difficult and challenging (and frustrating) than what I recalled it to be.
The objective of the game is to push or slide ice cubes along the surface of the maze and use them to squash enemy ‘sno-bees’.
Sno-bees look like cartoonish round blobs with eyes.
There are only one or two sno-bees at the start of each level, but as time progresses more sno-bees gradually ‘hatch’ out of certain ice cubes.
These particular ice cubes are highlighted for a few seconds at the start of the level.
It’s best to try to commit them to memory and destroy them before the snow-bees have an opportunity to hatch.
Another tactic involves Pengo and a snow-bee(s) both walking around the perimeter wall of the maze.
In these situations Pengo, can ‘shake’ the wall which will temporarily stun one or more sno-bees that happen to be adjacent to the same wall.
Walking over a sno-bee whilst it is stunned will kill it.
Scattered within each ice cube maze level are three separate ‘diamond blocks’.
Another objective of the game is to attempt to align these three separate diamond blocks together in a straight row.
If you manage to do so, a huge 10,000 points bonus is delivered and all remaining sno-bees are temporarily stunned and vulnerable.
Sounds easy, right? Not exactly.
A surprising amount of strategy and forethought is required to maneuver other ice cubes out of the way, using them to create clear travel paths or end-stops which will eventually allow you to slide the diamond cubes together.
To achieve this feat while avoiding the voracious sno-bees requires a high level of skill and planning.
Sno-bees will even eat any ice cubes blocking their way in their never-ending pursuit of you!
Each level (called ‘acts’) becomes progressively difficult by adding in more sno-bees and making them faster.
Like many 8 bit games of the era a time bonus is also awarded for completing each stage quickly.
I still remember playing Pengo when it was first released in the 80’s.
One thing I really liked about the game was the various little ‘interludes’ which would appear in-between every second act.
For example, after completing act 2, a team of Pengos will walk on the screen and do a little boogie dance.
Sounds like such a simple thing (and it is), but back in the 80’s something like that made us want to keep playing and get through as many levels as possible – just to see what the next little interlude would be (Pac Man had a similar concept).
Hints & Tips
- Although difficult, make it a priority to align the diamond blocks for the 10,000 point bonus. Once achieved use ice cubes to squish the stunned sno-bees (400 points) in lieu of just walking over them (100 points).
- The last remaining sno-bee will always become a coward and try to run away. Squish it with an ice cube before it disappears into the corner of the screen.
- The indicator at the top of the screen shows how many sno-bees are remaining, including those yet to hatch out of the ice cubes.
- For bigger points try to line up the sno-bees and squish more than one simultaneously with a well timed ice cube push.