The Death of Club Penguin

Bloody hell, remember Club Penguin? I decided to revisit it with a friend just last week after being thoroughly surprised to find it still going. To my surprise, the game was very recognisable and largely unchanged since I’d last logged in sometime around 2008…ish. Well, anyway, apparently the servers are shutting down at the end of March so that Disney can focus on pushing their new mobile version for the iPhone kiddies of today, which is sure to be riddled with more microtransactions than you can shake a flipper at. So I’ve decided to reboot this gaming blog after it’s unplanned month’s hiatus (sorry about that) to take a trip down memory… berg?

Ugh. That was terrible.

My original penguin was called KrazyK3000, and as that name is currently available for registration and I couldn’t log into it, I’m willing to bet it’s been deleted. I’ll never know for sure, seeing as the password recovery email was sent to my Dad’s old AOL email account… god knows that’s lost to the ages. I did, however, use my own email account to write in ideas for the game, and I still have access to that one. Here’s one of the two ideas I sent:

Hi. This isn’t exactly a BIG enquiry – if anything, a suggestion – but there’s no other place to ask.

I was a member for a month, and I can’t be one anymore. It’s really frustrating not being able to uby any clothes so I was wondering – maybe make the clearence sales available to all players? Or make a section for all players?

Think of it this way – the players of club penguin would wear these clothes, and think – hang on, I want the modern clothes/normal clothes. I’m becoming a member!

I’m not going to ask for furniture in igloo’s – that’s too much to ask.

Please take my idea into thought 🙂

Club Penguin had – and as far as I’m aware still has – a membership feature, allowing players to buy clothes and igloo (player owned housing) decorations with in-game coins. Free to play penguins had to suffer a life of nudity and empty igloos no matter how many coins they made, and as such membership was highly coveted by those without it. They sent me back a very polite no:

Hello,

You certainly sent your suggestion to the right place!  We will consider your idea but I cannot promise that free penguins will be able to purchase clearance items.  If you can think of any other ways that we can improve Club Penguin be sure to let us know.

Don\’t forget to collect the pin because the next one will be hidden on January 30th!

Have a great day,

Club Penguin Support

That was fine though, because the real fun to be had in Club Penguin was in the minigames. My favourite memory of the game is playing the Gone Fishing minigame until 1am as my father had fallen asleep on the sofa and failed to order me to bed. I was also a big fan of the pizza making game, and knew a secret that let you change the game so that you made chocolate pizzas instead of normal ones. I also vaguely remember the launch of an in-game dojo, and some sort of card minigame that went with it. You could beat other players and earn different coloured belts to show your prestige.

My favourite place to hang out in-game was the Coffee Shop, despite the fact that there really wasn’t much to do there. I remember particularly enjoying the soundtrack:

It reminds me oddly of Spyro the Dragon, retrospectively. At the time I thought the music was peaceful, though now I’d say it’s oddly funky. And the mere usage of that word makes me sound too old to be reminiscing about Club Penguin.

After what I somehow interpreted as a positive response to my first suggestion, I went on to send a much more enthusiastic email to the Club Penguin Support Team regarding one of my wilder and more original ideas:

Here’s another idea for you =] (Amn’t I great?)

Rockhopper Back – With ORANGE puffles!
“Yeah, yeah, another puffle, so what?”
-Available to all players (even if they already have 2) hwile they’re on sale on the migrator.
-Only available to members in the pet shop afterwards.
-Special trick – Burns an orange doorway in the air, and emerges through another orange doorway on the other side of the igloo.
-Special trick on full stomach – burns an orange doorway in the air just above the ground, and appears out of one higher up, falling repeatidly.
-Eating food: Opens mouth wide open, eats the bowl whole with the food, an orange doorway appears, the bowl slides out.
-Taking a bath: I dunno, sorry.

Or you can think up your own cool tricks, at least go with the orange puffle?

Idea colours for future puffles:

– Light green
– Dark Blue (not purple)
– Rainbow/Colour shifter
– White (Maybe turns invisible?)

Please take my ideas into consideration 😛

If anyone is lost, a “puffle” is a kind of furball which can be bought as a pet in Club Penguin. Free players could buy a red and a blue one, whereas members had a few extra options to choose from. The odd thing is, I was never a huge fan of them, and I’m pretty sure that I submitted this idea more as an attempt to influence the shape of the game than being legitimately excited for them.

Anyway, here’s the pacifying response:

Hi there,

Thank you for your fantastic idea.  It\’s so great to see how creative penguins can be.

It is always so exciting when Captain Rockhopper returns with surprises for all his penguin friends and orange Puffles would be quite a find out at sea! You have clearly put a great deal of thought into what orange Puffles would be like, and I especially like the part where they could burn orange doorways in mid air and then use them to transport around. Your truly an inspiring penguin and although I can not promise we will be able to use your suggestions, I will definitely share them with the rest of the team at our next meeting!

Keep sending in your terrific thoughts and have a great day!

Waddle and imagine on,

Club Penguin Support

Very professional and complimentary, and I can only guess as to whether this was actually brought up in any meeting, but as yellow puffles were introduced a short time later I think it’s only fair to say that I belong in the credits as a Lead Designer with the Most Original Idea Ever in the History of Anything.

All joking aside, it’s a shame to hear that they’re shutting the game down, and I’m sure I’ll log on during the Great Penguin Doomsday soon to come. As childish and memefied as the game is, it provided legitimate hours of fun for young Kristian, and I’ll miss being able to revisit it during bouts of nostalgia.

Sony’s Red Screen of Death

Kids nowadays (insert crotchety old grumbling voice here) don’t know how easy they have it. When they insert their discs into their machines (if they still bother with discs), the worst that can happen to them is a friendly little error message telling them that it’s not compatible or whatever. In fact, I’m not sure what the PS4 does, but I don’t think the PS3 does anything at all, it just doesn’t read the disc and present you with an option.

Kids nowadays (crotchety voice etc etc) don’t have to deal with the horror… of the Red Screen Of Death.

Alright, alright, without context it doesn’t seem so bad. But picture me, seven years old, having never touched PC gaming in my life, sitting in front of my PS2 and ready to be greeted with my little Playstation 2 intro vwomp. Having never touched upon PC gaming, I’m not accustomed to errors and workarounds, I’m just used to shit working. And for Sony to not only throw up an error screen, but to accompany creepy music and a bloody red mist was actually one of the most terrifying experiences of my childhood.

The Playstation 1 had a Red Screen Of Death, too, but I guess I was lucky enough not to encounter it when growing up. I did encounter it a few years ago for the first time when booting it up for nostalgia, and although it did creep me out, the combination of a lack of creepy music and, you know, being an adult is what stopped me from throwing it out the window in a fit of fearful tears exclaiming “you were supposed to be the chosen one”.

Overly played out Star Wars references aside, I actually found out something interesting about the Playstation 2 startup screen today. The blocks shown in the booting up sequences apparently represent the amount of games you’ve played, with their respective heights being indicative of the time spent within these games. It’d explain why, after some years, my Playstation 2 appeared to be more of a crowded cityscape than New York. Its population, however, is somewhat smaller than New York’s, given the abundance of the toxic blue fumes which run through the city streets, absorbing the blood of all who come into contact with it.

Well, where did you think the aforementioned red mist came from?

In all seriousness, though, the abundance of people claiming that the Red Screen Of Death is totally the scariest thing ever should be of some indication that there’s actually psychological reasoning behind it. My guess would be that shaking a child’s certainty of getting past the already abstract bootup screen and into the game is bound to leave some lasting effects, and replacing it with a red mist and an eerily ominous music cue only adds to this effect. Adults watching it for the first time will think “well what’s so scary about some tosser putting his disc in upside down”, but let’s be honest, that error screen was a demon possessed hell pit and we all know it.