Bryan Mitchell is the the developer of the popular Geared [$2.99 / HD] and Geared 2 [$2.99] games, which have reportedly been played by over 12 million people. He's partnered-up with an old school buddy Joshua Greenspan, who released Puzzling Penguins [Free] in 2009. Together, they've released a sequel, named quite appropriately: Puzzling Penguins 2 [99¢].
If you're familiar with the original game, this latest release features more of the "move-the-penguin-to-the-water" type puzzle-solving, but the graphics and music have improved, with the most obvious changes being a new isometric view of the playing area and the inclusion of snow-coated scenery in the background.
The goal of Puzzling Penguins 2 is to swipe your penguin around a frozen 8x8 pond, collecting three golden stars before reaching a chilly water-hole. The catch is that once you swipe a penguin, it keeps moving in that direction until either hitting an obstacle, or reaching the edge of the frozen pond. The challenge is to work out how to use the various obstacles to reach the water hole. Your overall Game Center score for each level is based on the number of stars collected, time taken and number of moves required to solve the level.
There's currently 3 worlds to play (63 levels in total), which are unlocked by collecting enough stars. The levels in the first world are all pretty obvious, so they're easy to 3-star in your first attempt without requiring much brain activity. But just when you start thinking you're super intelligent, the puzzles in the second world suddenly become more challenging, forcing you to actually stop, think and strategize.
New game elements are introduced regularly like blocks that can be repositioned by swiping, 'bomb stars' which trigger explosions and 'fire stars' for melting the water hole when it freezes over. Most interestingly some levels feature more than one penguin from the colony for you to swipe. This makes things trickier as your penguins must work together, using each other as barriers so they stop moving at the right spots to clear the level.
Puzzling Penguins 2 is a pleasant game to play and a definite improvement on the original, especially in terms of presentation. On the down-side, it's not universal and there's no native iPad version, so it will only run in 2x mode. Also, although the three "worlds" each add new gameplay elements, they all use exactly the same snowy setting and music, so they don't really feel like different "worlds" so much as just more levels. It would also be interesting if they threw a hungry polar bear into the mix.
However, the most important thing in any puzzle game are the puzzles themselves, and in that regard the game is well-designed with difficulty levels which increase as you progress. Of course, if you're not certain about this game, you can grab the original Puzzling Penguins for Free and if you enjoy that, you'll definitely enjoy this updated and prettier sequel as well.
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