As Happy Feet 2 hits UK cinemas this this week, the video game tie in is poised to deliver more singing and dancing penguin filled madness. The game allows you to play as lead penguin Mumble, and his friend Ramon as they groove their way across the snowy wastes of Antarctica — to save the penguin race from impending doom. The game offers plenty of rhythm action gaming with a splattering of snowy exploration, does the game capture the flavour of the movie or is just another cheap cash in?
Happy Feet 2, the game provides a different slant on the typical musical based game by adding its own flavour to proceedings. Across the many different levels, you’ll meet a host of characters but more integral to the gameplay, be required to amass groups of penguins. The game adopts three main gameplay stances which revolve around collecting notes and penguins as you traverse the lands, hit buttons in time with music, and slide the slippery slopes in various races. Gamers adhere to the basic storyline which is easy to follow and as unobtrusive as possible, leaving you to boogie the penguin duo with ease. Simply tap the X button to the beat and collect the numerous musical notes that populate the levels. You’ll be required to dance in front of stationary penguins who will then join your ranks at various points. You can then recruit more penguins using the increased abilities of having more numbers to further navigate the levels. Some penguins require a set number of penguins in your dance troupe before you can recruit them which often means you’ll be required to backtrack. The puzzle element is well implemented with most approaches being repeated throughout, it’s mostly easy to digest and very much well suited to younger audiences who are likely not going to struggle at all. At times you’ll be faced with a boss character where the duo dance to win the battle. The player input here is to simply match the face buttons and press them in time with the current song. It’s standard fare, and not something most younger gamers will have trouble with. The races are a bit more challenging where players are required to boost, hit jumps and avoid obstacles to win. Failure doesn’t actually punish you, so it’s all good fun.
There’s little movement within the game’s levels which means you’re presented with a distant angle showing off a wider snowy environment. It looks good especially as you progress and see the snow under different lighting conditions such as dusk and sunny. The character models are the main focus, and when up close are highly detailed, sporting fine detail such as fluffy plumage. The dancing animations are pure comedy and work well with penguins as source material.The only real draw back to the game’s overall look is a lack of variety.
The game’s audio features plenty of tracks which can be selected at will at the start of each level. What’s more, there’s the option to unlock more as you collect the notes across each level. There are some 19 tracks to choose, and as you replay levels, you can level up the tracks to get more penguins to add to your grand total which is kept track of throughout the game. The music has been performed by Ozomatli who provide an eclectic mix of funk, hip hop, rock and Latin which oddly suits the dancing penguins perfectly. Most tracks are non obtrusive and can easily get a foot tapping if simply listening in, which is great if sharing a room with non-players.
This is not the longest of games and whilst there are plenty of levels, the sheer repetitive nature means that the gameplay does get stale, and after 30+ levels becomes tiresome. That said, for a dip in and out game, there’s plenty to keep younger players entertained and with the option for two players to co-op makes it a worthy and inoffensive game for younger players to chill out with.
Happy Feet 2’s gameplay is quirky and for the most part works very well within context of the target audience. It does feel a bit like a novelty product, and anyone above the target age might get some enjoyment from the crazy looking penguins, but won’t in any way feel challenged. Younger gamers should have a blast playing, but the reality is the game’s biggest problem is a lack of variety which might cause younger minds to wander not long after booting up. The best way for Happy Feet 2 to be played is in smaller doses in a group situation, as the solo play really doesn’t hold interest long enough to be worthwhile for anything more than a quick fix.