Standalone WiiWare Review: Minna de Tobikome! Penguin Diving Hooper Looper

Penguin Diving Hooper Looper is Agenda’s 3rd WiiWare effort and concerns diving penguins — a premise which is simple and nicely executed, but falls short of being the classic arcade-style game it could have been.

This is a budget release at only 500 Nintendo Points, so it lacks anything in the way of frills: you won’t find any speech, full-motion video or even basic sound configuration options here folks, but you will have a bit of fun steering a diving cartoon penguin through hoops as he plunges off a clifftop into the antarctic waters below.

After choosing one of six profiles you assign a Mii to it which serves as your name for the online leaderboards (that makes it simple, eh?). You then progress through six different dives with the goal being to get the best score possible and earn a medal. The controls are motion-based and well-implemented. After jumping from a colorful diving board your penguin plunges down the side of a cliff. You can rotate in a full circle holding the remote in your hands sideways a la Excite Truck. Tipping the left end up and the right down you rotate clockwise and doing the reverse will rotate you anti-clockwise. The control is quite tight and you’re able to reverse directions well in order to avoid obstacles like cliff edges and pick up rings to boost your score.

Pressing the 2 button causes your penguin to streamline his profile and accelerate; pressing 1 causes him to flap his wings and slow down a bit. The former is key to getting a better bonus for finishing the dive more quickly and also to stop red birds which appear in some of the courses from stealing red triple score rings from you. Plunging through different kinds of rings scores points with a bonus assigned for every ring obtained up to a set maximum for the dive. At the bottom you’ll also find a floating ring to plunge through for an extra 5000 points. Points between 20-30,000 earn you a silver medal whilst anything over 30,000 gets you a gold. You need to complete each dive in order to unlock the next; if you get gold in all six dives you unlock a bonus one that sees you jumping off the rings of another planet and diving back to Earth against a display of the developer credits.

Whilst this is fun – and to the developer’s credit there are enough rings that there are many scoring variations present, the longevity of the game is let down by the fact that there’s only seven dives in total and the ring patterns are fixed so that eventually you’ll max out the number of points you can score. There’s not too much challenge on offer so the game does seem targeted at more casual players or children. There’s nothing wrong with that, but with a little more effort – say randomising the ring patterns at each dive or allowing a player to play them all back-to-back for a cumulative score, the game could have invited more replay action from both casual and more serious players.

Certainly the addition of online leaderboards is welcome and having a split-screen multiplayer option is also nice. For 500 points it’s not a bad little game, but a little more substance would have been appreciated.