Thursday, March 6, 2008

Day 4: Pen Pen Tri-Icelon

And sometimes the games designed for little kids are better than the games made for grown-ups. Pen Pen Tri-Icelon is the first Dreamcast purchase I've made since Crazy Taxi that didn't end up being a complete waste of money.

A tri-icelon is a triathlon on ice. Instead of humans competing in running, biking and swimming, aquatic aliens compete in ice-walking, belly-surfing and swimming. Gameplay consists mostly of pressing and releasing the A button for each stroke of your flippers and steering around obstacles. The B button attacks other racers, but seems to only work during the walking sections.

There are 7 characters and 4 courses available at the start. As with Mario Kart, using the main character, in this case Sparky the Penguin, does not guarantee success and I gravitated to Sneak the Octopus. Each race I won netted me a new item to dress Sneak up with. Thankfully, any item won can be used with any character, so I don't have to go back and win every race with every character. I'd do it though. I'm that obsessive.

That's a small cosmetic complaint though. My other complaint is the lack of depth. I seriously doubt there's enough game here to keep my going until the new Mario Kart is released next month. Even with multiple levels unlocked for each course, I'm still playing the same four courses over and over. Bright colors and funny animals might be enough to create replay value for the 6-year-old target audience, but I'm gonna need more. This is ageism dammit!

Pen Pen Tri-Icelon is going in the "guilty pleasure" folder. I expect you to keep this just between us. I don't want any of my cool friends finding this is how I will be spending Friday night.

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