Back in the day I used to review Atari Jaguar games. In this instance I was also a beta tester. The Jaguar version of this one was really good, the PC version, not so much. As one of the better Jaguar titles, it’s nice to note this one was produced by Atari UK. At the time I used to work quite closely with Darryl Still and Alistair Bodin, two excellent chaps at Atari. Penguins was one of the games they were responsible for bringing to the Jag.
Here’s what got written for ST Review back in 1995…
From the land of Monty Python and The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comes the latest example of zany British Humour. Iain Laskey comes face to face with the Mutant Penguins.
Every now and then a game comes along that can’t really be described in anyway that does it justice. Attack of the Mutant Penguins, or AMP, is one such game.
Aliens have decided to invade the Earth and prior to arrival they’ve tuned into our TV broadcasts to see what we look like. Unfortunately for them they picked a nature program and mutated into the first thing they saw – penguins. At the last minute they realised their error and tried to make the best of it by dressing up as different types of humans, hoping they’d be able to blend in. The only thing that stands in their way is Earth’s last hope, Rodney and Bernard.
Each level has a theme such as cowboys and indians, clerics or Elvis. The object is to stop the Mutant Penguins from reaching the Doom Scales. You can play as either Rodney or Bernard. Each has a different set of weapons. To help you in your quest you have various machines and tricks you can use. In addition, the real penguins who are upset at the bad press these upstart mutants are giving them, have decided to help you beat the aliens. If more mutant penguins get to the scales than good penguins then the Doomsday Weapon is triggered and life as we know it comes to an end.
Like the classic game, Lemmings, each level of AMP requires you to work out the correct combination of actions that will allow the good penguins to get to the scales whilst stopping the mutants. Various chests are placed around each level. These can contain parts of extra weapons, good penguins and other bonus items. To open them you need to collect the blue gremlins and drop them on the chests. The more gremlins, the quicker the chests open.
The machines are delightful devices. Some have rotating knives which slice up the mutants as they try to walk past. Others grab the bad guys and skewer them on big metal spikes resulting in a flurry of feathers and bits of gory body debris as the victim explodes. Wonderful!
The different themes are also important. On the Elvis level there are jukeboxes. If you can find a coin and deposit it in the jukebox , music starts to play and any Elvis penguins that pass by just have to stop for a boogie, buying you valuable time. The cowboy levels have campfires and if you manage to light them, the cowboys all sit by the fire, start eating beans and, well, have you ever seen the film Blazing Saddles?
At the end of each level you get one of 3 random mini-games to help you vent those anti-alien feelings some more.
The game can be a little confusing to start with and helpfully Atari have put in an automatic tutorial that explains what everything does the first time you use it. After that, gameplay continues uninterrupted.
The graphics are very amusing with brilliant sprites, all well animated. Some elements are so good it’s often tempting to do things just because the results are funny, not because they actually help you complete the game. The noises are generally good although the intro music sample is terrible. Very rough sounding.
AMP requires a bit of effort to work out what to do. It’s well worth persevering though. The only real problem is that there are only 60 levels which isn’t really enough compared to other games of this genre. Maybe an opportunity here for AMP 2?
AMP is the first of a series of games that have been produced by Atari’s European Development Centre and as a benchmark of quality sets a fine standard.
Product Name: Attack of the Mutant Penguins
Telephone: 01753 xxxxxxxx
Pros: Amusing graphics, good puzzles.
Cons: Not enough levels.