In the runner game Aloha From Hawaii you get to control four lovable penguin characters, plus even switch between them mid-level. In fact, switching is not only encouraged but also heavily incorporated into the gameplay, since you’ll need to utilize all the penguins’ strengths to escape an angry mob of creatures and make it to the popsicle freezer before it’s too late.
Ultimately, you’re trying to get these four friends from the South Pole to postcard-perfect Hawaii, where all their penguin dreams are sure to come true. Come on, let’s take a look.
Meet Annie, Bob, Max and Ziggy — four penguins who one day decide to trade their dull South Pole environment for warmer waters in Hawaii. And you get to play all of them.
Each penguin is unique — Annie is tiny but tough; Bob is husky but rich; Max is narcissistic but athletic; and Ziggy is crazy but effective. Thus, they each have a special skill unique to him or her, ranging from speed bursts to the ability to barrel through ice and other barriers.
The game begins with a beautifully drawn slideshow explaining some of the background on the penguins as they begin their journey from Antarctica to Hawaii. The only problem is, there’s an angry mob after them, not to mention quite a few roadblocks in the shape of dangerous birds, hungry sea lions, unfriendly plants, snakes and a host of other unkind creatures depending on the environment.
Annie, Bob, Max and Ziggy have to run as fast as they can to stay ahead of the horde and make it to the safety of the freezer in the nick of time, dodging gaps in the ice and enemies. They also have the opportunity to collect stars, hearts and popsicles along the way.
As this endless runner game automatically propels the penguins forward, you’re given two controls to work with — jumping and switching. Press the right button to jump. The longer you hold the jump button, the higher you will jump. Press the button twice quickly to do a double jump.
You’ll may not always end each level with the same penguin you started with. This is because there are platforms throughout the levels — they look like round disks in the ice that shoot beams of light skyward — that appear just before tricky situations or challenging enemies.
As you approach a platform, you’re given the ability to switch penguins. (If you perform a particularly well-timed switch right as you go past the platform you’ll achieve a “perfect.”) Switching penguins will cause the new penguin to utilize his or her special maneuver — one that will be valuable for making it past the upcoming situation, whether that’s a series of bad guys, or a group of popsicles that will be challenging to collect.
Nabbing popsicles will increase your points; snagging hearts will increase your lifespan — when you’re out of hearts, and you encounter an enemy or fall off the gameboard, you’ll have to start the level over.
Bonuses and Extra Info
Finding all the stars in a level will unlock its accompanying bonus level; and collecting all the stars in each game world will unlock endless mode.
The penguins cross three different continents to reach their tropical paradise, which means you get to play some very different environments, including ice flows, jungle and desert.
High-achieving players can unlock bonus content under Extras on the menu, which includes four parts to the penguins’ story.
Under Options you can adjust the volume of the game’s soundtrack and sound effects, including turning them both off completely, or just one or the other. You can also review the “how to play” slides and check out your achievements.
Achievements appear in the shape of illuminated pegs on a board; examples include collecting all three stars in a single level, completing a level without taking damage, collecting 100 popsicles, beating two enemies in a combo move without touching the ground, escaping the mob under the wire, and other possibilities.
It should be noted that while the game is free to start playing, you’ll have to buy the jungle and desert worlds to play the full story. (At the time I write this, it’s $1.99.) Buying the endless mode of the Antarctica, jungle and desert worlds will also cost you a small fee ($0.99 each). And if you want to buy new lives to save yourself, you can do that too ($1.99 for three lives for story mode; new lives for endless mode are $0.99 each).
This game does a good job of injecting humor where possible, from the individual penguins’ attributes and appearances, to the names of the levels (“Cold Jogging,” “I Know My Penguins,” “Cool Encounters,” etc.), and the scenes illustrating the penguins’ escape from the South Pole. The game’s soundtrack adds a lot to the Hawaiian theme, and the well-timed sound effects punctuate the action well.
Overall, gameplay is smooth, and the controls are simple to use. But that doesn’t mean this game is easy. The bad guys in each level are not sparse, nor are the stars and popsicles placed conveniently. I guarantee you’ll find a level you just have to keep playing over and over again to get that very last star.