The year 2016 is coming to a close. How would we define this year for Club Penguin? Could we say that it is the worst year for Club Penguin – ever? Indeed, it could be. But 2016 has been a very busy year for Club Penguin. Especially these last two months! Also, so much has happened towards the end of this year. Penguins have been able to relive the legendary Music Jam (quite possibly the best one yet) and beta test Club Penguin Island! Therefore, has 2016 really been a terrible year? Perhaps for Club Penguin it has been. But for the community – well – that’s a different story!
I think the best way to conduct a review of 2016 is to work back through the year chronologically. So, I will be starting with January and ending with December. For each month, I will summarise the parties/events that occurred and briefly discuss my thoughts on them. If you want to see more in-depth reviews of the parties this year, feel free to check out ‘Blue Reviews’. Anyway, I hope you will find my review of 2016 interesting!
On January 20th, Club Penguin’s third Prehistoric Party roared back to the island. As usual, Gary brought back the Time Trekker 3000 so that penguins could warp to the prehistoric past. Except for this time, there was a reason for it. This particular party was a continuation of the events that occurred in Operation: Crustacean (November 2015). Long story short, Herbert stole the meteor power source from the UFO so that he could use it for himself. As a result, the EPF decided to go back to the prehistoric era so that penguins could locate power fragments of the meteor and reconstruct a new power source for the UFO, in order to save the alien puffles.
During the party, the main objective was to locate power fragments through Dino Dig. Alongside this, penguins could transform into dinosaurs and adopt dino puffles. Considering that this was the third Prehistoric Party, I wasn’t too intrigued by the party because nothing new was added to any of the rooms. I only attended the party in order to complete the main objective. It didn’t take long to do at all! Although I found that the storyline for this party was strong, I felt that it needed a bit more adaptation. I think this is because this party is only a third of an EPF Operation. Operation: Crustacean started it all and Operation: Tri-Umph ended it all. I think that the team treated each party (involving this storyline) as a mission that contributed to the operation, as a whole, which is why this party felt a bit weightless. It is obvious that the team weren’t totally committed to making this operation the best one yet but that is understandable! January wasn’t a brilliant start to the year, however, I am a fan of their story technique and I wish they used it more often throughout 2016.
On February 10th, Operation: Tri-umph arrived at the island. It seemed that the EPF were very popular at the beginning of 2016! Throughout this party, agents discovered that the power source, that Herbert stole from the UFO, was used to assist Herbert for his plans to bring doom to the island. For each new week of the party, there was a new disturbance. The party started with a surprise dance party! This turned out to be a distraction since Herbert was plotting something a bit darker. He was planning to blast the island, decolourise it and shrink penguins. On week two and three, he managed to accomplish this. But on the third week, agents were able to trek through the cave maze (amazing foreshadowing!) and stop Herbert from initiating destruction. It was a fairly predictable ending but I was rather impressed by the foreshadowing of the cave maze.
In my opinion, this operation was quite weak and incomparable to Operation: Blackout/Puffle. I felt that the atmosphere was not intense enough and it was treated more like a party rather than an operation. There were no assignments at all, except for the final one so there was nothing much to be occupied by. After a couple of days of this event, I was so bored and so I didn’t log back on for a while. It was a shame because it failed to live up to its expectation. At the same time, however, I was expecting the operation to flop. Already, you can tell that 2016 didn’t have a great start and I hate to say that it doesn’t get any better than this.
On March 16th, the Puffle Party began on Club Penguin. This was the eighth puffle party to hit the island and, fortunately, there was something different to do this year! The main objective of the party was to play hide-and-seek with the different puffle species and doing so allowed players to unlock unique puffle-themes clothing which looked cute! The game was spread over a couple of weeks so you would have had to log onto Club Penguin throughout March in order to collect all of the items. In my opinion, this new aspect of the party was good! No other parties used this mechanism so it was a new and exciting experience for players. Also, the puffles were actually hidden; now and then, the hiding spots would twinkle so it gives players a hint on where to look. As soon as you click the hiding places, it reveals the puffle but there were several of them in each room which made the hunt more interesting. I guess you could say it was challenging compared to the generic scavenger hunts but it wasn’t that difficult, to be honest. Nonetheless, I was delighted to witness a change in the party.
As for the rest of the party, it was pretty much the same as every year. In 2015, the Puffle Party was drastically different because it was story-driven. This year, it was more of a celebration of puffles! All of the puffles were available for adoption which gave lots of players a treat! I don’t think it was a disappointing Puffle Party since it was a pleasing “celebration of the puffle creatures”. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of any new room decorations. To be fair, none of the recent parties delivered anything new but it would have made this party even better if it did. Moreover, there was no replay value in this party – just like most parties in 2016. On the whole, this party gave me hope for the future of 2016. It showed that the team still cared enough about the game. I did mention that the year doesn’t get much better but this party (personally) was one of 2016’s best parties on Club Penguin, despite the fact it lasted for a good 4 weeks.
Moving on to April, the community was treated to an unexpected return to the Wilderness Expedition! In the past, this party was exciting since it was inspired by the reveal of the brown puffle. I guess you could say it acts as a “sequel” to the Puffle Party ’15 because it followed the story of Sam the Sasquatch and where he lives. On April 20th, penguins were invited on an expedition to search for the Sasquatch Village. This involved a puzzle where penguins had to work through a forest maze, using clues. The puzzle was relatively easy since I found the clues obvious. Also, the Sasquatch Village was nothing special at all. It was just one room with no interactivity whatsoever. It looked quite bucolic and peaceful but it wasn’t that much of a reward at all. Unfortunately, this (along with the forest maze rooms) was the only party room which the party offered. This was especially disappointing since no other room on the island (except the Dock) was decorated. On the other hand, the Dock was made up of reused decorations from Operation: Blackout – so it was nothing new at all.
On the brighter side, there were new items given out and they were actually pleasing. To add to the expedition feel of the party, these obtainable items were huntable on the quest through the forest maze. In that respect, the party offered something new but the experience was nothing special at all. In my opinion, this party was disappointing. I was expecting something amazing after the success of the storyline during the Puffle Party ’15 but this party, surprisingly, ignored it so it lost out on a lot of potential. At least this party didn’t last for 4 weeks, though.
Next in store for the community was the Zootopia Party, which began on the 18th of May. To put you out of your misery, I’m just going to mention – now – that this party lasted for 7 weeks! That is a very long time; it was so long that the party got us through June and the beginning of July. In that case, penguins were stuck with this party for two months…and it did get boring. Very boring.
First of all, there were no activities to do in the party. You could collect new clothes items specific to a Zootopia resident. That was the only content which the party offered. Other than that, there were around 7 decorated rooms, overall. By that, I mean that new rooms were added as the party progressed. I am not going to lie; the rooms did look good and appropriate. I would say that the party succeeded at visuals so it did mean that penguins could role-play with ease. However, seeing as this party was a takeover, I don’t think it did much for the success of Zootopia: the movie. It lasted for 7 weeks (which is way too long) and it only showed off some Zootopia inspired rooms. The movie turned out to be one of the highest grossing films this year so it didn’t even need this much attention! So, in a nutshell, this party was not great. It was only amusing for the first day of the party and when new rooms arrived, it was worth logging on to visit them. But it was too long and very lack-lustre. In fact, it was probably one of 2016’s worst parties. So far, 2016 has had a rough first half with only some enlightenment in March. Does it get any better?
Not that much, yet.
The Finding Dory Party arrived to the island on July 6th and it lasted for 6 weeks (I don’t think many people were happy). Even though it lasted for that long, it was significantly better than the Zootopia Party. This party actually had some content to offer! There was the generic scavenger hunt which earned players items once they completed the hunts. There were several of them which kept the party active for a couple of weeks. Some of the scavenger hunts were so easy and obvious (due to the poor placement of the objects) but other ones were sensible and intermediate. The obtainable rewards were decent and cute. I guess a lot of people like to dress up as sea creatures because of how vibrant they are!
As for the rooms, I was impressed. There wasn’t a lot of rooms decorated for the party but the Town was decorated simply, yet amazingly! The team listened to some of the community and realised that room decorations do not have to transform a room’s appearance. To be fair, the Zootopia Party used the technique for the Plaza and the Town. Anyway, the Town had a water pool that ran across the path and there was seaweed hanging from the buildings to make it feel like a water-logged environment. The Cove and the Iceberg (I know, random choices) were also minimally decorated to spread more underwater atmosphere around the island. I still think that they should have added more decorations to the central rooms of the island. Nonetheless, this technique was appreciated.
I was a fan of the Marine Life Institute as well as the Morro Bay room. I found that this party gave penguins a new experience but it is all down to what the advertised movie was. Luckily for us, it was Finding Dory! Furthermore, I liked the development of the musical emotes! They were quite annoying when penguins used them at the same time but I can’t complain about that because it was such a cool idea! Personally, this party was better than the Zootopia Party but it still didn’t deliver a great experience. The scavenger hunts were weak, overall, and the party went on too long, without a buzz! The reason for this was because it was a takeover. On the whole, authentic Club Penguin parties tend to offer the best experiences to its players because the team can be a lot more creative and flexible with their approach. With a takeover party, there are boundaries so the experiences are always likely to lack something special. Unfortunately, it gets a lot worse than this in August.
The Frozen Fever Party returned to the island on August 17th and lasted until September 28th. I wasn’t happy at all, so weren’t a lot more others. This was the third Frozen party to have taken place on Club Penguin and it was exactly the same as its predecessor. The only thing that was new was the music. Good music, funnily enough. However, the snowflake scavenger hunt was identical to the previous ones. The rooms were all the same and no new ones were added. If this was the first debut of Frozen on Club Penguin, it would have been a magical experience (like it was in 2014) due to a number of Frozen rooms. But once you have played the same party two times already, playing it for the third time makes it even worse.
The controversy here is that it was a successful party in 2014 and 2015 so the team decided to use it again in 2016. Even though the movie ‘Frozen’ was released in 2013, Club Penguin thought that it would be cool (see what I did there?) to let it live on for a few more years. Of course, this was one of their worst decisions but at least it only lasted for 5 weeks. Well, that’s less than 7 weeks so consider yourself lucky. Can you imagine what 7 weeks of Frozen would have been like? I can’t.
Skipping most of poor September, on September 28th, we finally reach Halloween. We also reach the month October: Club Penguin’s (usual) best month of the year. This is because of how great the Halloween Party always turns out to be. This year, it took a bit of a downfall. It was still a decent Halloween Party but it didn’t exceed my expectations. Want to know why? Well, Club Penguin used another scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunts (these days) are never enjoyable due to how easy they are but the team decided to implement one into the Halloween Party and it was nothing special at all. The point of it was that the “spectral sweets” granted penguins the ability to transform into paranormal creatures such as werewolves, vampires and ghosts. In some ways, this was a pointless storyline because the Monster Maker 3000 returned and it didn’t require any of these sweets for fuel. This was a disappointing story element, especially when most other Halloween parties excel with a gripping storyline. Nevertheless, the rooms were island-wide and spooky, yet nothing new was added – once again!
Compared to other 2016 parties, this one was definitely a relief! I think that Halloween is one of Club Penguin’s strongest traditions so it never bores me to the see the return of this Party every year. I may have been disappointed this year, but at least I could still enjoy the party since it was traditional and nostalgic.
Towards the end of October, on the 19th, the 11th Anniversary Party arrived at the island and it remained small and sweet. Whereas the 10th Anniversary Party took the celebration island-wide and blasted us all to the past, this one reverted back to the traditional Anniversary Party we all know – and love! I am glad that the team did this because the 10th one was meant to be special and different. This one offered a cool, new party hat and the yearbook reflected back on the parties and events of this disappointing year. To make the anniversary even more enjoyable, the legendary Club Penguin Reunion returned to the island! I am so happy that I decided to take on the ‘Blogtober’ challenge during this month. I managed to meet with so many of you and make even more memories this year! Now I am delighted to say that it gets a lot better after this party!
On November 2nd, the highly-requested Music Jam hit the island. And it hit it better than ever before! This party gave 2016 a lot of hope. I was expecting it to flop somehow – but it didn’t; I think that production on Club Penguin Island was close to a finish which meant that more effort could be put into this party. There was so much on offer. The rooms were a mix of old, nostalgic Music Jam room decorations, and newer ones too. The Cruise Ship returned which added a lot more party rooms. The Case Fiesta and the Orca Straw also returned which gave me buzzing excitement. Alongside this, the Penguin Band actually returned this year and so did Cadence. As well as in the form of mascots, these characters were meetable through the ‘Star Search’ quest of the party, where players could approach the characters and collect a piece of clothing and their unique signature pin. I think that this was a cool idea. It wasn’t a tricky quest but the rewards were so cool!
The music in this party was phenomenal, as you can imagine. There was a range of classic music and popular Club Penguin songs like ‘The Party Starts Now’. All of the Penguin Band and Cadence songs were performed at the Snow Forts with the use of a rota system. I thought this was a really cool idea!
Aside of all this, I find it difficult to fault the party. There were some harming bugs such as an annoying one which prevented penguins from listening to Music Jam music since the Halloween Party music was still existent. Also, I experienced an annoying bug where the musical instruments in the Case Fiesta didn’t function properly. Moreover, the party wasn’t island-wide but at least it still managed to offer a lot of content for its players. I have to also mention that the storyline was ambiguous and a bit unexplained. I think that more treatment on the story could have boosted this party even more. Then again, the storyline doesn’t matter – as much – for a party like this. By a mile, this party was the best one of the year!
During November (on November 17th to be specific) Project: Super Secret was finally unveiled on the What’s New blog. All of the community were so hyped once they discovered that the project involved the development of the team’s new game: Club Penguin Island. If you have read carefully, you may have noticed me mention this new game a couple of times throughout the review. For me, this unveiling was a spectacular moment! It made me think how the tough journey of 2014 – 2016 was worth it. It took the team a lot of their time to build this new game which is why parties and events on Club Penguin had sacrifices. In addition to this, the closed beta for Club Penguin Island began soon after the announcement and some lucky penguins, who I know, got to test it out before anyone else. This caused some dispute in the community but we all managed to hold it together for the holiday season!
That’s right! The Holiday Party returned to Club Penguin on the 1st of December. This was the final party of 2016 and it will continue to run until January 4th. Therefore, this party is still going on as I write this review but I have seen enough!
As a whole, I think the Holiday Party ’16 has been magical and enjoyable, so far. Every time this party returns to the island, I always feel merry because of Coins For Change. Every year, the team list several projects which Club Penguin could fund if penguins donate their coins during the party. Now, this system does seem a little fixed because, every year, we always manage to reach the goal and the numbers appear fake. Despite this, I think that this tradition is very ambitious and compassionate since it teaches the community the wonders of giving and how it can impact lives. Therefore, the “behind-the-scenes” of Coins For Change does not bother me at all. However, this is not the only thing to expect at the Holiday Party. Every day – up until December 25th – penguins could log on to collect a gift from the team. Most of them are totally new items which look amazing! I wasn’t expecting this at all so it was a nice surprise.
The room decorations at this party were mostly replicated from last year’s party, however, the team put in some extra effort to bring back some older room concepts. The Boiler Room, this year, was given a festive makeover with the addition of wrapped presents and a huge Christmas tree. I thought that this was fantastic especially since this room has been ignored for years! The Underground Pool was transformed into an ice cave, which was used ages ago, and the Mine was given more holiday decorations to lighten up the spirit in the dingy underground of the island. These small additions mean everything to me so I am immensely grateful that the team went the extra millimetre to deliver these changes. The Lighthouse was also given a different look; it was turned into a ‘Concert For Change’ gig which happens to look spectacular!
The main flaw with this party was the absence of any new activities. The Merry Walrus Party in 2014 was majorly disliked by many people because it replaced the Holiday Party, but it did add a few festive activities to the party such as: decorate the Christmas tree, deliver the food in crates, and ring the bells. Personally, I found these activities really cool back in 2014, despite the whole party makeover, but when they are all reused for two more years it makes them boring for returning players and that doesn’t help lighten up the holiday spirit. After experiencing the Music Jam, I think it would have been possible for the team to craft new activities for us to complete – as long as it didn’t involve any scavenger hunts! As for the music, it was well-chosen and a strong variety. Some of the holiday tunes reminded me of the old days of Club Penguin and others made me feel relieved that it was the festive season. I appreciate that a range of music was used this year; it emphasises how traditional this party truly is to the game.
Overall, the Holiday Party has been great but not as impressive as the Music Jam. Do you know how relieved I am to say that 2016 is going to end on a high? I’ve been wanting to say this for a couple of years and the time has – finally – arrived.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t just the Holiday Party that helped to make the end of 2016 awesome. It was the release of the Club Penguin Island geo-beta! Even though it wasn’t an open beta release, many penguins (including myself) were able to cheat our way into the game. It may sound unfair but it is only because a lot of us love the new game so much! It’s true! I have been able to test the new game since December 16th and I have truly enjoyed the experience. This new game plays differently than Club Penguin but I can tell that elements of it have been inspired by the virtual world. It continues a lot of features like the mascots, mysteries and the overall geography of the island (though it is significantly more diverse). This new game will release in 2017 but it has got a lot of us excited for it. Stay tuned for my review of this exciting experience soon!
Now we reach the end of my review of 2016. What is the verdict? I think it is pretty evident that a lot of this year has been boring and unsatisfactory for us. The turning point, however, occurred on November 2nd. Ever since this day, the standards of the game have significantly been raised than any other time this year. A lot has happened in the last couple of months and this has hugely redeemed 2016. The best parties of the year have to be the Music Jam, followed by the Holiday Party, and then the Puffle Party. Club Penguin was close to rock bottom during the Summer due to all of the annoying takeovers. The Frozen Fever Party was definitely the worst one! I think that we can look back on this year and say that it hasn’t been easy. There were many times where penguins were losing faith in the team and the game. But now I believe that the future of Club Penguin is going to be a good one. After testing out Club Penguin Island, I believe that the future of the community is going to be brighter but the desktop game may be cancelled next year. Although this is very sad news, I am glad that the team haven’t given up hope. Club Penguin Island will arrive early in 2017 and it will have an extraordinary kickoff! You could say that 2016 was the year that saved the game. Without all of these sacrifices, Club Penguin Island would not be as good as it is right now – and it is only at its beta stage!
2016 hasn’t been the best year for Club Penguin, nor has it been the best year for its fans. But, do you know what? This has been a great year for the community. Together, we have been able to make it through a tough year and we have accomplished so many great things. A game without a community as strong as this one is lost. Overall, I have enjoyed 2016 because of the community. When the game was not at its best, we made it better. The Summer was a frustrating experience, but we all got through it and even made many fun memories! I want to say thank you for contributing to the community and for helping everyone build a supportive community which has made me laugh and smile throughout this year. I want to say thank you to the fantastic team, behind the game screen, for their consistent determination and spirit that went into this game – and the new one. Because of the team, Club Penguin will live a greater future until it is time for it to, peacefully, die.
So, that concludes my review of 2016. It certainly has been an interesting year for us all so I want to hear all of your thoughts. What have you enjoyed or disliked this year? I want to hear your journey of 2016. Thank you very much for reading my review of 2016!
Waddle On and Happy New Year!