Retro Review: Yume Penguin Monogatari (Nintendo Famicom)

Review-Yume-Penguin-MonogatariWhat happens when you cross a penguin, the Japanese and a morality tale about obesity? A ridiculous idea for a video game obviously! Every now and then, you will always hear someone proclaim ‘Only in Japan!’ and Yume Penguin Monogatari (or Super Weightloss Penguin in my eyes) for the Nintendo Famicom embodies that hackneyed cliché with aplomb.

The story is a relatively simple one – you are an obese penguin called Penta who has been dumped by his lady penguin Penko for a more studdlier penguin called Ginji. In order to win back her heart, Penta vows to lose the excess blubber, but Ginji has other plans. He sends out his minions to force feed Penta with a whole host of food stuffs so he can keep his filthy flippers firmly on Penko. And so begins a side scrolling action platformer / bullet hell cute em up journey of love. And cake. Only in Japan!

Instead of a health bar, Penta has a fitness meter – you collect diet drinks in order to lose weight whilst avoiding enemies and projectile foods that constantly beef you back up. This simple premise is strange but absolute genius! Penta has three states – morbidly obese (you can barely move and your only form of attack is a jumping belly flop), average build (you are faster and you can kick enemies) and studdly buff (you can shoot projectile Japanese words out of your mouth at enemies). Penta has to lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the level in order to proceed to the next. If he doesn’t you have to repeat the stage again. This can get a little irksome, but practice makes perfect (is this some pseudo social commentary in a video game perhaps?) in order to impress Penko.

Review-Yume-Penguin-Monogatari-Screenshot

It is in the presentation and gameplay where Konami has excelled – the characters are full of charm (watching Penta struggle under his own pork pie addiction is really humourous) and the mini cut scenes at the end are hilarious. If Penta is too fat at the end of the level, you see him stuffing his face with more food, crying his little penguin eyes out as Penko gives him an earful. Also Ginji looks like a comedic pimp (purple pimp hat and shades abound) which fuels the funny even more. Graphically the game is sumptuous – chunky (pun intended) sprites and luscious backdrops are perfectly complimented with the cheery chiptunes throughout each stage.

The bullet hell shooter is a welcome change of pace in between the platform sections. It never fails to bring a smile as you try to dodge sushi rolls and rice snacks of weight gain doom! Likewise with the end of stage bosses – from ridiculous Parodius battleships to two tiered killer birthday cakes, imagination has run wild throughout!

It is unsurprising that Yume never left the shores of Japan to grace the NES – I think even for the 1990’s the subject matter may have been too much for our Western ideology. Japan’s pariah state in the eyes of many has always been beautifully accepted by the gaming community and it is always fun to come across an absolute hidden gem. Yume Penguin Monogatari is readily available for import and it won’t break the bank to get a copy. However, the game is in Japanese (which doesn’t hinder the gameplay) so seeking the English translation version online may be a better alternative. The story is self-explanatory so either way go have some fun losing weight with penguins!

Yume Penguin Monogatari (Nintendo Famicom) Gameplay


Last Updated ( 09 January 2015 )  

James 'ewjim' Evans

Jim is a self confessed know it all when it comes to 16-bit gaming. With a strange fondness of playing rubbish videogames for the fun of it, there is no stoop too low he won't go to for entertainment.

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Comments 

(Link to this comment) DemonicNinja 2015-01-09 21:17
Great weigh to start the new year!!
(Link to this comment) ollie809 2015-01-10 22:31
great write up mate. the game sounds and looks straight up my alley very nice colours and cartoony, great bit of platform and action too boot as well as a funny charm nice title to own!
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